Ari Aster returns to the screen, since his breakthrough horror film “Hereditary” in 2018.
From the trailers you may be certain you know the plot of Midsommar already from countless horror films – pretty young Americans go on an exciting yet remote holiday overseas only to find the locals are into some weird shit, then running, screaming, some shock-horror gore and either one person survives or everyone gets killed (and we pretend this is really subversive and creative).
But Midsommar is not that film. In fact it would be unfair to even call it a horror film – despite the fact the gore in it is easily the most realistic you will see since the internet satisfied our curiosity about the aftermath of car crashes, beheadings and so on.
No, Midsommar is a beautiful and accomplished drama, an enchanting work of art that is both deeply upsetting and darkly satisfying. Upsetting because it confronts us with relationship traumas, the spectre of the death of our parents, care for the mentally ill, competition amongst friends – and satisfying in its suggestion that somewhere in Sweden a pagan cult of indeterminate age has solved all these anxieties and more.
England’s own Florence Pugh absolutely shines as the lead role in a work which surely passes The Bechdel Test with flying colours – you will pity her, you will side with her, she will capture your whole attention. It’s hard to believe she is the same actor that starred in the utterly anaemic WWE puff piece Fighting With My Family (it really is her! Wtf? No more shit films after this please Florence).
Other than a strong feminist star, politically there are no overt themes. It is very funny to see the bloodthirsty cult using the ‘jazz hands’ version of clapping though sadly that is not a reference to the radical swamp… or is it?
There is a send-up of the postmodern tendency to ‘accept other people’s culture’ which sees the American post-grads stupidly failing to turn and run at the earliest evidence that their hosts are utterly occult and clearly dangerous. Instead they linger to do research for their anthropology PHD’s!
Yep they deserve what is coming for them.
Verdict: Unmissable. Go and catch it in the cinema now, feel free to indulge in hallucinogens first if you like that sort of thing – if not, you’re still in for quite a trip.