Ari Aster's latest film Midsommar grabs you early in broad daylight and holds you while terror unfolds and much like the cast there is nothing you can do but ride it out...
A young couple travels to Sweden to visit their friend’s rural hometown and attend its mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly descends into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
Midsommar is one of the smartest and most engaging films of 2019. Coming off Hereditary which was hit or miss and left audiences wondering whether it was a comedy, cult, shock or all three combined Aster nails it here leaving no doubt that we are going on a journey that will cause you to confront some things.
Grief is explored here with the lead character, Dani (Florence Pugh) having to come to terms with loss early in the film. Dani is also in a relationship with Christian (Jack Reynor) that has grown co-dependent and even toxic at times that under normal circumstances would have come to an end. However, with Dani's loss she and her boyfriend are thrown back together more for survival than comfort.
Hoping a change of scenery will make things better Dani and Christian travel with friends to Sweden to attend a friends "mid-summer" festival family tradition.
There are many things that catch your attention in this film. First is the use of bright daylight scenes. Aster does a masterful job of creating tension in broad daylight which shows his control of craft. Also there are several paintings, pictures, and drawings on the buildings that with a closer look depicts the story that is unfolding before us. There is a fertility ceremony involving one of the male characters that normally would have been played with the man enthusiastically wanting to have sex and then terror setting in as things go wrong but Aster show us an unwilling participant that is dragged into this situation that at times makes you laugh and at times makes you grimace.
The ending of the film may leave fans split between loving and hating it because of the juxtaposition between the absurd and the horrific, but that almost seems to be Aster's calling card.
It is this attention to detail and story that sets Midsommar apart as the breakout horror film of 2019.