Monday, July 1, 2019

Midsommar - Review

It’s official: Ari Aster would be the world’s worst grief counselor. The director once again takes the inherent melodrama of a human event and mixes it into his own brand of horror: an exquisitely crafted and atmospheric affair unlike anything else in 2019. It may not be as nightmarish of an endeavor as Hereditary was, but Midsommar is an experience that’s sure to leave most people at an absolute loss for words.

With their relationship in trouble, a young American couple (Florence Pugh & Jack Reynor) travel to a fabled Swedish midsummer festival where a seemingly pastoral paradise transforms into a sinister, dread-soaked nightmare as the locals reveal their terrifying agenda.

No film in 2019 has been completely baffling and enthralling all at the same time like Midsommar was from start to finish. It is absolutely the definition of a slow burn and unsettling watch, a film that permeates and filters into every facet of your mind long after the credits have rolled. Short of the film’s runtime weighing it down towards the third act, Ari Aster has again constructed something truly magnificent and deranged for the second year in a row.

Most of the film’s successes do rely on the talent of Ari Aster, serving as both writer and director, and the way he is able to assemble some visually stunning horror on top of the bizarre premises he starts with. Of course, that’s aided by some gorgeous cinematography from Pawel Pogorzelski, who captures the pastorals and brightness of a Swedish countryside that contrasts so well with the harsh reality of the horror playing out.

And again, at the center of all this dread, is yet another brilliant lead performance in Florence Pugh. The actress has been on the rise for a few years now, but Midsommar provides her with an opportunity to really flex her muscles. From the start, her neurotic behavior over her familial problems mark her as an individual destined to be horrified when the eerie happenings hit later. When her blood curdling wails on the other end of the phone are enough to build up a scene before it has even begun, it is clear that audiences are in for a special performance.

Midsommar is a film that only reaffirms Ari Aster’s place on the list of exciting new filmmakers. His sophomore effort may not pack the same level of horror that his debut did, but it's replaced by overwhelming sense of dread that grabs a hold of you and never lets you up for breath. Florence Pugh is magnificent, delivering a performance that will likely earn her a spot in some awards conversations when the time comes. It must be said that Midsommar will not be for everyone, that much can be stated with zero doubt, but those willing to go on this ambitious, savage, and darkly comedic ride will not be disappointed.

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