Nerdlocker Movie Review: Midsommar


“Being close but feeling far… talking but not being heard… loving but not being loved… that is the painful reality of a dying relationship.” – Steve Maraboli

Last year writer/director Ari Aster emerged with his debut film, Hereditary, a horror fever dream that flipped the haunted house story completely on its head and shook violently until its neck broke. After my first viewing I was confused, amazed, and quite sure I had just witnessed a horror masterpiece. After a couple more watches I’ve come to the conclusion that Hereditary is my favorite horror film, period. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that Ari Aster’s follow-up wasn’t far behind. Well now I have witnessed his second effort and now I’m writing about it, that’s how this works right? What happens though when a film leaves you at a loss for words? I was left similarly silenced when I saw the Suspiria remake but when that particular nightmare ended I was confused but with much more negative implications, I wasn’t overly thrilled by credit roll. With Midsommar my confusion lies more in the realm of simply needing time to contemplate just what it was I saw, and believe me when I say Midsommar showed me a lot to mull over, possibly too much.

First and foremost I must make this very clear, Midsommar is NOT Hereditary 2. They both very much land in the horror genre but as a whole these films could not be more different from one another. As much as I appreciate the differences, what I enjoyed most is going from Hereditary to Midsommar feeling a lot like the passing of the torch, from one style to the other. I felt this most with the beginning of Midsommar as it sets up how exactly these characters find themselves in rural Sweden. The darker shots of peaceful home life being shattered by the unimaginable is very much what Hereditary entailed whereas Midsommar has the feeling of being shot on the surface of the sun, but no less horrifying or unsettling because of it. The beginning of Midsommar feels like a tip of the hat to Hereditary, a thank you of sorts melding into a confident “I’ve got it from here.” And once the sun rises on this story, the horror, the discomfort, the unease, the confusion, digs in like a tick and embeds itself in the psyche of us, the audience, scrambling our brains for nearly two and a half hours. I left the theater feeling… different.

The confidence in the visual side of the storytelling is still very much there as Aster continues to show the prowess of a seasoned veteran. His wide shots, close-ups, sudden scene cuts and a determination to never turn away, even when it’s too much, he carries on with complete conviction hoping you will simply trust he knows where he’s going with this.

Much like Hereditary utilized the darkness to hide its frightening secrets, Midsommar uses the sun as a tool, a psychological switch that never turns off leaving its characters lost, feeling as if nothing is what it should be even as they’re met with smiling faces and warm embraces. Something is always off, always kinked ever so slightly becoming more and more contorted as the secrets of this commune seep into the light of day. By trip’s end the very nature of these outsiders will be forever altered and mutated in a way no sane person could possibly fathom. Midsommar is about a relationship on the rocks finding itself in a place that does not allow this couple to hide as they normally would, forcing every dirty look and thought out into the open, where the harsh suns shows no mercy.

Hereditary had a psychological aspect to it but was a much more visceral, physical experience of what loss is and does to a person. Midsommar takes the theme of loss and fully delves into the psychological impact it can have on a person who is already in a delicate state of mind to begin with. Add in a large amount of shrooms and other psychotropics and suddenly this already unfamiliar world becomes one of constant unrests ready to capture and never let the new blood go.

A frequent mention you will hear often about Midsommar is its similarities to the original The Wicker Man and rightly so. The Wicker Man explored the outsiders perspective into a cultish society whose practices are questionable at best, detrimental most often. Where Midsommar differs is in the willingness of its character’s presence in such a unique place. Both also dissect heavily the practices of paganism. Midsommar however doesn’t seem to find the line but rather blurs it with absolute mind filth and bloody transgressions.

While there are frequent moments of pure, physical, in your face horror, Midsommar is a more leisurely walk into psychological torment carried by lots of drugs and oddities that only further the idea that we shouldn’t be here, in this rural valley of nightmares. Again, Midsommar is NOT Hereditary, but rather its own fucked up approach to experiencing new cultures. If this is what the Swedes have to offer I’ll pass thank you very much. Midsommar is an absolutely fantastic, slow, merciless journey and further cements Ari Aster’s place in horror. However this will be a far more divisive film than his previous and pushes even harder the questions that Hereditary asked in a less abrasive manner, “How far are you willing to let a story take you? Can you really accept the darkest sides of man’s psyche?” I promise you, Midsommar will test you, your patience, your mind, and the strength of your stomach.

Rated R For: disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language
Runtime: 140 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter
Directed By: Ari Aster

Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls

Buy to Own: Yes

Check out the trailer below:

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard