There is a lot of arguments over whether or not this film constitutes as a horror film. While it may not follow the format of a traditional genre movie, it certainly is unnerving and has nightmare fuel that lasts long after the viewing has concluded. It also has an uncanny ability to transport the viewer and fully engulf them into this world. As I was watching this, I felt myself disassociate from myself. There’s no denying that director Ari Aster has some magic in his hat.
Midsommar at its core is about struggling couple Dani & Christian who are both in denial about how much they no longer like each other. They are both in love with each other, but their relationship is completely co-dependent and it is taking its toll on both of them. Just as Christian is getting the courage to finally break things off, Dani has a family tragedy and it turns out that Christian is literally all she has left. After some time, Christian and his friends are deciding to go on an anthropological trip to Sweden to observe one of their classmates’ hometown’s festival that only occurs once every 90 years. Feeling pity, they invite Dani along as the 5th wheel.
When they arrive at the festival they are greeted with hallucinogens, flowers, banquets, ritualistic clothes and festivities. As the days continue however, the rituals become more bizarre and graphic. All of this leads up to a climax that is cathartic and haunting simultaneously. The characters are humiliated, abused, cherished, and ultimately given what they all deserve. There isn’t a lot of on screen violence, but they made sure that the ones you do witness are traumatic and meaningful.
The film is visually beautiful. The musical score is terrifying - relying mostly on strings, rhythmic bass, and harmonizing vocals. The script is intelligent and thoroughly detailed (although some argue there is too many stories happening at once – but I beg to differ). And the scenery is breathtaking – they had actually assembled a makeshift village in the middle of an open field and it took on so much life. Ari has found a way to open a portal into an alternate world and gladly shows you everything inside with glorious detail. Everything from the patterns of the individual wardrobes to the paintings on the buildings is thought out.
Midsommar is not for everyone, and it has divided audiences for great reason. But I would argue that this is one of my favorite films of 2019. I will gladly dive back in and rejoin the festivities time and time again.
'Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra