Midsommar is centered around five 30-something year old's who embark on a trip to a rural destination in Sweden for a festival set in the middle of the summer. Luscious green grass and blue skies aside, things start to go awry for these four travelers and their native friend. Although it has a very generic plot, Midsommar is no "The Wicker Man." It stands its ground and adds new perspective and meaning to an otherwise predictable story-line. Midsommar is one of those movies that has you leaving the movie theater in absolute shock and awe. I was horrified, disturbed, and my stomach was upset. These are all signs of an utterly successful horror movie experience. Like Hereditary, Midsommar introduces a new definition of horror. Instead of using jump scares and cheap plot twists, Midsommar instills a slow-burning sense of dread. The word "unsettling" doesn't even do it justice. The first act of the movie focuses on its primary characters and their unique personality traits. It effectively dissects their dynamics with one another as well as personal justifications ultimately establishing an emotional connection to the audience. The viewer is given the opportunity to experience and feel the emotions of the characters. The actors do an unbelievable job at conveying emotion through facial expressions. The second two parts of the film are what I would describe as organized chaos peaking at the two-hour mark.
Along with strong characterization, this movie breaks new ground with its cinematography. The cinematography is incredibly detailed, unique, and multi-layered. The visually stunning setting in Midsommar is rewarded with equally satisfying camera angles. In multiple scenes, the use of mirrors helps achieve a very unique perspective for the audience. The community's bizarre rituals are met with well-suited cinematography and camera angles. Without revealing anything, there is a very specific visual effect used that allows the audience to visually experience what the characters are. It essentially throws you into the horrific world of Midsommar.
Be forewarned, this movie is grotesque. There are several visuals and situations that left me disturbed to the core. As I write this review, I still have some of the horrific imagery stuck in my head. Some may argue that the shocking imagery was overdone, but I think that it was essential to convey an extreme sensation of doom. Some complain about the length of Midsommar, but this is what allows it to successfully grip the audience and throw them through a whirlwind of emotion. Granted, it probably could have shaved 20 minutes off of its screen time, there wasn't a dull moment throughout Midsommar. The experience of the characters is truly immersive and that is hard to achieve successfully, especially in horror movies.
While Hereditary and Midsommar are two very different movies, Ari Aster does not disappoint in his second film. Aster proves that his unique perception of horror is not wasted on his audience and I'm extremely excited for whatever he decides to do next.