Review by Mr. Will Wong
Following the critical success of his debut, Writer-Director Ari Aster returns with a polarizing follow-up, Midsommar which takes us on a wild psychadelic ride, although we aren’t sure it lands exactly where it wanted.
The Film follows a young couple, Christian (Jack Reynor) and Dani (Florence Pugh) whom after Dani experiences a traumatic incident, decide the venture to Sweden with Christian‘s friends Josh (William Jackson Harper), Mark (Will Poulter) and Pelle (Vilhelm Longren), the latter who is from the village where a pagan festival occurs once every 90 years. While they are appalled at some of the graphic violence they witness, they find themselves growing invested. Both Josh and Christian want to base their thesis on their experience at the festival, while Mark is an odd fish out looking simply to find female companionship. Dani finds herself coping with her own grief and the fact that she is in a toxic and homeless relationship with Christian. As they find themselves entrenched in mysterious rituals, we question the motives of the village and wonder if they will make it out alive.
Make no mistake, those expecting Hereditary II can leave those expectations at the door. Midsommar is a Psychological Thriller and while Aster subjects us to sprinkles of gore, the Film is much more a meditation on loss, grief and the disolving of a relationship. The Film is seen from Dan’s perspective and is a journey for her to reconciling the pain she repeatedly is subject to.
Florence Pugh engages us right from the start and goes all in and we feel her medicated anxiety, grief and fear. After gives her plenty of room to show her range and we’re left with a performance so shakes us to the core. We won’t be forgetting this performance anytime soon. Talented Reynor plays Christian straddles the line between ignorance and caring that keeps us invested all the way in one of his most daring roles to date yet.
While the at moments humorous, Midsommar lacks the same focus that Hereditary has in its identity as a Horror, the emotions and catharsis are still there. Pawel Pogorzelski’s gorgeous Cinematography successfully navigates the task of keeping us in suspense in broad daylight, juxtaposing violence with beauty and folklore. The Film is crafted to be divisive and contemplative, requiring a repeat viewing, and in that regard it succeeds.
Elevation Pictures release MIDOSMMAR Tuesday, July 3, 2019.