Our tendency is to think of horror unfolding in the dark, but Midsommar is horror unfolding in a place that never gets dark. I’m leaving by the wayside any attempt at sounding intellectual in this review, because I’m not an expert reviewer, and it’s difficult to characterize how I felt from the time the Americans reached Sweden. Perhaps that is the most horrifying idea of all embedded in "Midsommar" — that there are no positive outcomes, no worthwhile solutions, only more problems and more pain no matter which way you turn. It’s an excellent film. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that got into my head the way this one did…. At the same time, "Midsommar" does not completely dismiss the point of view of Christian and his friends. It challenges the audience and makes you want to discuss it. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Without giving away any spoilers, it’s definitely one of the most twisted break-up films ever made. ), In which we obsess. So of course, I was excited for Midsommar. When the cult manages to successfully seduce Dani, it's because they offer her the ability to feel "held" and "at home" in a way that the rest of the world simply refuses to do. Simple acoustic music played by festival hosts takes the shape of a voice that serves as much as a character as the actors. The festival takes place only once every 90 years! That’s the thing about this film. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. (September Favorites! It’s a fine work of indie art, as we’d expect from A24. These are heady concepts for any film to tackle, but "Midsommar" is a masterpiece because it does so through a brilliantly executed folk horror premise (as Aster said in one interview, "it’s a breakup movie dressed in the clothes of a folk horror film.") Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. ), The hostess with the mostess. Until it fizzled out. This isn't mere subtext; it is front and center throughout the entire plot. ", criticized as ableist and even eugenicist. Desk in distress. Aster also makes liberal use of psychedelic visuals, with mind-altering drugs playing a key role in the plot and trippy imagery accentuating the movie's scariest visual moments. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! By the end of the movie, I felt pinned to my seat beneath the weight of a WTF stone tower, each stone heavier than the last. * An early scene in which the group is driven through the Swedish forest to the festival is presented upside-down. Associated Press articles: Copyright © 2016 The Associated Press. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC. It took me days to recover! My inability to find an item that I needed. The belief system of the happy inhabitants of Hårga seems to be a mix of northern European paganism, occult tradition, arcane numerology and made-up nonsense. The price they pay is that they find themselves surrounded by others who also decide that their lives aren't worth caring about — quite literally. Midsommar is completely immersive, and that is one of its horrifying strengths. The first shot I’m horrified. This is how the audience will look watching this. If you’re up for the challenge and thrill of psychological horror, go see Midsommar in the theater! Nicely done. You think, this could happen. But I’m just not sure I liked what it had to say yet. SALON ® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon.com, LLC. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Perhaps the director’s voice shines through a little too much. Spoilers ahead! It’s definitely a creative idea for a folk horror film, reminiscent of something like The Witch or The Wicker Man, and its use of colour was genius. ). Instead she wails, over and over again, to Christian's exasperated consternation. Look out for our spoiler-filled discussion on this film and Hereditary soon! (Working out: suggestions from a non-professional.). "Midsommar" deserves to be favorably compared to other recent blockbuster movies that have attempted to tackle mental health issues. ** ** ** ** Seriously, if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to know, stop reading now. I’ve spent the past few days recovering from this nightmare film, and yet I’m sitting here recommending it. The big ones all apply: writing, acting, directing, cinematography, musical score, costumes, editing. It isn't unreasonable for someone to think that a romantic relationship isn't working if it demands more energy from them than they have to give, and the point here should not be that people who are trapped in one-sided relationships should stay in them against their will. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. I felt exactly the same way. Midsommar: you don’t go to frolic. Everything freaked me out: interactions with people in the store. On Sunday, we went to the movies anticipating a good scare, because we thought we were about to see a normal horror flick. (I saw HOST on Shudder.). Aster crafted a thoughtful exploration of the strain mental illness can put on individuals and their intimates within the confines of its very specific sub-genre, and because both the genre tropes and the deeper human themes are executed skillfully, the movie comes across as profound when it lesser hands it would have been stupid or tasteless. (A review, of sorts. There is a moment in these early scenes that sets the thematic tone of the movie that follows. Image via A24. As the film gets progressively weirder, it actually becomes quite predictable leaving some very forced exposition towards the end. He clearly does feel sorry for her and has enough guilt over his emotionally distant behavior that he invites her on his trip to Sweden (ill-advisedly, as it later turns out). ( Log Out /  He’s happy to take us on this trip to experience the festival… and a trip, it is. But after a while, it felt like more of a sadistic slasher in which the disturbing gore was only there for shock value rather than necessity to the story. The deeper point that Aster makes, it seems, is that everyone has emotional needs, but people with mental illnesses may have a more difficult time seeing them fulfilled. The themes, metaphors and symbolism in it were really cool and it made me take note of the name Ari Aster. While Dani is blameless for her mental health problems and the trauma she's undergoing, Christian isn't exactly a monster for the way he responds to her. A more appropriate category might have just been a shocker. This bit of symbolism sets the tone for the rest of the movie as standard horror conventions fly out of that upside-down vehicle’s window. Christian, for example, may claim to be a normal, competent guy, but his inability to overcome his insecurities and come up with a suitable topic for his graduate thesis partially animates the plot and eventually causes him to rationalize betraying one of his friends, suggesting that neither his conscience nor his mental health are quite as up to par as he'd like to believe. Dani may have technically survived, but only at a grave cost. Its warning to audiences is a bleak one, but instructive nonetheless: While the rest of the world may be cruelly indifferent to your needs, this doesn't mean that those who claim to offer an easy way out are any better. ), Let the ghoulfest begin! ( Log Out /  Another of Midsommar’s strengths is that it’s horror that could occur in real life. Midsommar is a film that does things to you. Spoilers ahead! *Don’t get me wrong – I do enjoy carefully placed cheap-thrill jump scares! The runes scattered throughout the movie are also genuine (any translators of Elder Futhark out there?). The cult leader needlessly explained everything to the audience even though we had been there for the ride for two hours, and kind of already got the picture. The following year, "The Predator" made the odd choice to include an autistic character whose condition made him a prized commodity among the titular alien species. One needs to be somehow mentally prepared to see it. (Office updates + plant family! It’s an experience. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. It wants me to feel and think something specific and I’m not sure that I do. The first half of the film was near perfect, the slowly built tension and rising metaphor I really appreciated, and reminded me of Hereditary. Copyright © 2020 Kristi Garboushian. Then you dare think, maybe it does. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. An ancient festival in Sweden, now, that would be different. Skillful usage of foreshadowing and symbolism help the film to burrow under the skin. All rights reserved. I am still interested in the films Ari Aster has to make, because they will undoubtedly be beautifully made and controversial. It left me squirming in my seat and agonizing over the ending for days after I saw it. (Short Horror October, day 2 + storytime. ( Log Out /  Midsommar robbed me of some pedantic horror-movie joys: a few things happened that I guessed would happen, but I couldn’t take satisfaction in guessing correctly, because the events played out in ways more twisted than I could have imagined. The fatal sin committed by Christian and his friends isn't that they think this romantic relationship isn't working — they're right about that. On three-day weekends, procrastination, and negatives into positives. Visually the movie harkens back to other folk horror entries, most notably Robin Hardy's 1973 classic "The Wicker Man," with bright colors and a pastoral setting cleverly juxtaposed against the sinister activities. It's that they have a choice to extend empathy to someone who needs it, but decide that because she isn't easy to be with she isn't worth the time. ), Monster Mash. In Midsommar, Ari Aster seeded the horror in the atmosphere of the setting; from there, he grew and cultivated it with methodical precision.

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