“Midsommar” leaves viewers bewildered

Devon Greene, editor-in-chief

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As summer comes, so does the summer blockbuster. After Jaws’ massive success in 1975, studios have clamored to produce big, expensive movies that draw in massive crowds during the summer. Yet, smaller studios are nothing to be slept on during the wave of Marvel superhero movies hitting the theatres. Independent entertainment company, A24, released my favorite film of the summer, Midsommar, in June with a semi-limited release to leave their mark on the summer.

Directed by Ari Aster in his second feature film, Midsommar has not left my mind since watching it. Aster’s trip to the big screen came in the form of Hereditary, which left viewers disturbed for days upon viewing the gut-wrenching masterpiece. Midsommar is no different.

Aster has a knack for getting under the audience’s skin and putting the viewer in uncomfortable and grief-ridden scenarios. Hereditary followed a mother and her family who lost a mother and daughter and Midsommar follows a college student who lost her sister and both parents. That’s about where the similarities end with Aster’s first two feature films.

Midsommar follows the main character, Dani, a college student through her emotional journey over the summer. From the very beginning of the movie, we see that Dani and her boyfriend, Christian, have been having relationship problems. Christian and his friends Josh, Mark, Simon and Pelle are sitting in a bar where we find out that Christian had been considering breaking up with Dani. The same night, Dani gets the call everyone dreads when she learns that her sister murdered her parents and committed suicide.

A year later, Christian and Dani are still together and Dani finds out that Christian and his friends have been invited by Pelle to Sweden to visit his commune and attend a midsummer celebration. An upset Dani confronted Christian before the trip and ends up attending the trip with the guys.

At the commune, the group gets picked off one by one as the midsummer celebration goes on. That description may sound like this movie ends up becoming a slasher movie, but it is anything but. Midsommar is one of the most unsettling and strange movies I’ve seen in a decade. Every second I spent watching left me feeling off balance and uncomfortable. The last film that made me feel that way was either Stanley Kubrick’s, A Clockwork Orange or the 2018 remake of Suspira that was directed by Luca Guadagnino.

Acting is probably the strongest facet of Midsommar. Florence Pugh, who portrays Dani, is an absolute powerhouse and almost blows any other actor who is in a scene with her off the screen. Pugh has had a nice coming out party over the last few months with Midsommar and Fighting With my Family and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

I think one of the things that kept me so off balance was Aster’s decision to have this film take place almost entirely during the daytime. Aster harkens back to the Wicker Man when talking about his inspiration for the decision. As an avid horror fan, one thing that has started to bug me with the genre is its reliance on the dark in order to add an extra layer of fear for the viewer. Midsommar is a breath of fresh air with its use of vivid color and light while still being extremely disturbing and unsettling.

The colors in this movie are one of the things that keep me thinking about it. From the green of the grass to the pinks and blues of the flowers that are plastered around every inch of the commune in Sweden, every shot is comprised of colors that keep the viewer enthralled with the composition of the scene.

In an interview with Editor-in-Chief of The Ringer, Sean Fennessy, Aster said that he describes this movie as a break up movie. I guess he’s technically correct, but Midsommar is as much of a breakup movie as Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

Midsommar has received generally positive reviews from critics but has been much more divided among fans. This comes as no surprise since it tackles such hard-hitting subjects and is a slow burn horror that many fans aren’t accustomed to in this era of horror films. Personally, slow burn horror films are either a hit or miss. For example, I loved Hereditary and Midsommar but hated the 2015 hit, The Witch.

Midsommar is out of theatres right now, so all I can do is impatiently wait for it to come out digitally or on DVD, but I highly recommend watching the movie if you can stomach it.

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