By Mark Saldana
Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)
After writer/director Ari Aster made a huge breakthrough last year with his near-perfect feature film debut, Hereditary, the talented horror auteur is back. Though strikingly different from his previous movie, Midsommar shows the filmmaker’s talents beautifully and is arguably one of the best horror films in years. There really is only so much I can say about this outstanding movie, but to say any more would give too much away. Let me just say that Midsommar is a movie I could watch multiple times to bask in its aesthetic beauty, and marvel at its unflinching audacity and its layers of artistry.
Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) are a couple of college students struggling to keep their relationship afloat. Though they care about each other, Christian has grown frustrated with Dani’s needy tendencies, while Dani feels that Christian simply does care enough about her to deal with her personal problems. After a huge tragedy profoundly affects Dani, the two decide to follow their friends on a trip to Sweden. Invited by their Swedish friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), the group plans to attend a traditional and rituals folk festival in Pelle’s home village.
While at the festival, things seem harmless enough, until the group witnesses a shocking and frightening ritual. Afterward, the group is somewhat divided and torn about remaining. Things begin to bizarrely escalate further and Dani and Christian’s relationship is tested to the brink.
Written and directed by Aster, Midsommar is a horror masterpiece that is visually stunning and is appalling and nightmarish in its delivery of shock and awe. Aster shows masterful writing, character development, and direction here. It truly is a tremendous wortk of art that probably only horror buffs and art film fanatics can appreciate. It’s as if Aster made love to the work of Kubrick and Von Trier and this is their love child.
Aster and his casting director have also assembled an incredible cast to make this movie come to life. Florence Pugh gives a tremendous and emotionally charged performance as Dani. Her character is put through the wringer, goes on an emotional rollercoaster ride in this movie, and the actress never misses a beat. The charming Jack Reynor goes on a slightly different journey, but certainly shows some amazing range. On the lighter side, Will Poulter is absolutely hilarious as the group’s likable douchebag friend Mark. The film also features great work by Vilhelm Blomgren, Archie Madekwe, Ellora Torchia, and countless others.
I wish I could elaborate further on this movie, but in doing so, it would rob my readers of the complete Midsommar experience. This movie is certainly not for everyone. However, those who can appreciate a horror film that is artistically shocking will be singing the praises of Ari Aster, as I have been since I experienced this phenomenonal movie.