Tony's Take

MIDSOMMAR review

Let the Festivities Begin

Visionary director Ari Aster (“Hereditary”) returns with another harrowing tale in “Midsommar”.  Having just endured a horrific tragedy, Dani (Florence Pugh) is lost.  Her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor), who’s been stringing her along, is set to leave for Sweden with his friends Mark (Will Poulter), Josh (William Harper Jackson), and Swedish student Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren).  With plans of attending the special, once-every-ninety-years Mid-Summer festival of Pelle’s home village, the group arrives and are in awe of what they see.  The townsfolk are dressed all in white, withthe children running around and the adults working.  Everything seems strange, but in a new-culture way.  However, as the festivities begin, things are clearly not as innocent and fun as they appear.  After witnessing a suicidal sacrifice, the outsiders begin to feel weary of their surroundings.  As the mysterious events continue, they begin to question everything they know; their safety and their sanity.

Last year, Ari Aster captivated the horror audience with his incredibly well-received “Hereditary”; proving he was near the top working in the genre and leaving fans in eager anticipation.  Well, have no fear.  “Midsommar” is a beautiful follow-up that is deeply unsettling and haunting.  As the film opens, Aster hits us with a gigantic emotional punch and tells you that the worst is yet to come.  Throughout the film, be sure to pay attention to Aster’s expertly-hidden plot elements and symbolism that are important in the climax.  The cast is well put together, but Pugh is the star and she proves she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in her future.  I must warn you, “Midsommar” is NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART!  There are numerous visuals of disturbing and grotesque images as the story unfolds in-front of our very eyes.  What many filmmakers use for shock value, Aster uses it to serve and propel the narrative.

His gorgeous cinematography is crucial as well, showcasing the beauty of Sweden’s countryside; leaving the audience hanging on every moment and scene transition.  “Midsommar” is very much a slow burn at times, but you audience is left on the edge of their seat.  The 140 minutes feel a little long, but it is hard to find areas to trim.  So many important sequences hinge on the minute details and the masterful suspense.  The film will leave you speechless; fearful of the unknown and probably never planning a vacation to Sweden (especially with any Swedish friends).  It is 2 hours and 20 minutes of uneasy and unsettling haunting that can hardly be described as scary.  Truthfully, you’ll find yourself laughing more than you could have possibly expected.  It is a perfect balance of horror.  “Midsommar” is sure to be divisive, but regardless of your rating you will be impressed with Aster’s sheer audacity and creativity.

“Midsommar” is the latest offering from the visionary Ari Aster that will leave moviegoers on the edge of their seat and feeling very unsettled and deeply disturbed.  It will provoke thought and conversation, but it will undoubtedly leave you entertained and full of questions.  I cannot wait to see it again and I fully expect this film to have a place on my Top 25 list at the end of this year!  In a time where the horror genre is overpopulated, it’s incredibly refreshing that we can enjoy an outing like “Midsommar” that is both original and a stunningly-visceral nightmare!  

 4.5/5

MIDSOMMAR is rated R for disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language, in theaters JULY 3RD!