Horror Club: Midsommar
Every once in a while, a movie comes out that is so bizarre, so deeply disturbing but so brilliantly haunting that it leaves its viewers sitting in their seats, physically blown away by what they just watched. Writer and director Ari Aster did it to us last year with Hereditary (which made #1 for our top horror of 2018 list) and he's done it yet again with the new, instant cult-classic MIDSOMMAR that was just released in theaters this past weekend. It's a folk horror along the likes of The VVitch and Hagazussa, but with a darker twist and not so subtle disturbances. It's a massive film - clocking in at just under two and a half hours - but without hesitation, I write this now saying that it will be some of the best spent two hours you can put into this genre of cinema. While Midsommar doesn't crawl at the pace of The VVitch or other slow-burners like it, it definitely runs at its own pace, but at the completion of the film, you'll be glad it takes the time to play out the way that it does. Midsommar is a fucking brilliant masterpiece that truly shocks you down to your core, and it does so without demons, ghosts, jumpscares or evil toys; it shows us horror in the ugliest way possible: through humanity. Commit to watching this film before it leaves theaters - the dread you'll feel from the get-go of the film will haunt you long after credits roll. Midsommar is the must-see movie of 2019 so far.
After experiencing the unimaginable, American girl next door Dani is reluctantly invited to Sweden on a trip that was put together by her boyfriend Christian and his friends, who are going there along with Sweden native Pelle, who is taking them there to celebrate the mid-summer festival with his commune. It is a festival that only comes around every ninety years, so the group are beyond ecstatic to venture to the countryside to experience the festival. That is, until they get there and they realize the commune is more of a cult and that their customs would haunt anyone from the outside world. Far from the rest of humanity, Dani and her boyfriend continue to partake in their bizarre rituals of the Hårga as the drugs, sex, and overwhelming practices of the commune break apart their relationship... or does it?
Everything about this movie comes together perfectly to bring you a subtle yet shocking horror that is unlike anything we've seen before. From the location (which is actually Budapest, Hungary, not Sweden) to the cast to the music to the horrors contained within, Midsommar combines all of these elements to ensure that when the film is over, you're left shocked, disgusted, horrified and satisfied all at the same time. The isolated location of Midsommar is essential to the film, because both the antics and the customs of the Hårga people cannot be possible without this isolation. Like I mentioned earlier, Dani (played by Florence Pugh) experiences some awful, awful shit right out the gate, and it instantly sets this dreadful overtone over the entire movie as things just get weirder and weirder for her and her friends. And while Pugh's performance as Dani is absolutely stellar, it is the shocking drug-fueled role of Christian by Jack Reynor that kinda stole the show for me. Pugh does an outstanding job at telling her thoughts and emotion through her facial expressions in a way that I fear she won't get the recognition for; all throughout the movie, it's not so much what she says but the look on her face as she's saying it that truly speaks the horrors that's unfolding in her head. But I'm not sure what it is about Reynor's portrayal of Christian that just blew me away; there's something about his performance in the final hour or so that just envelops you and leaves such uneasiness running down your spine. It's horror in its finest display.
Admittedly, the story to Midsommar doesn't sound anything too unique or something we haven't seen before, right? Friends go to an isolated location where a group of people do some crazy ass shit and our main characters are left to fend for themselves. What Midsommar does (and does excellently) is push the boundaries for the norm - and for our own morality. The American group of friends who go to Sweden to visit aren't used to the bizarre practices and customs of the Hårga: they're almost appalled at the majority of the stuff they see at the commune. But just because it is outlandish to them doesn't make it outlandish to the Hårga people; this is the way they've lived their lives since the beginning, so all of the craziness and horrors you're seeing are all these people know. It's this morality battle that will continue to shock you and beat you down as Midsommar progresses, and leaves you almost mindfucked the whole ride down. This movie is not going to be for everyone, that's for sure - it's slower pace, lack of unseen evil forces and gore will turn some viewers off and probably offend others for being called a horror. You're either going to love it to death, or absolutely despise it - I don't think there is going to be a happy medium between viewers. But I cannot stress enough how important it is to at least give this movie a chance to fuck your day up, and I mean that in the best way possible. It may not be a in-your-face horror fest, but the level of dread, despair, brokenness, and insanity in Midsommar - I'm convinced - will leave you with the same cheeky smile it left me. I cannot recommend this movie enough - in fact, I'd love to go see it again before it leaves theaters. Yeah - it's that goddamn good.