Midsommar is Ari Aster‘s deeply disturbing follow up to the 2018 surprise horror hit, Hereditary. The film while bright and colorful, is a dark story that pays homage to the cult horror classic, The Wicker Man. Dealing with similar pagan themes, and the idea that you surrender yourself to your fate rather than being taken by force is common in both movies. I couldn’t make it through this film in one sitting, not because it was bad, but because it was so unsettling.
Florence Pugh’s (Black Widow, The Falling, The Commuter) absolutely convincing performance as Dani was central to making this movie work. The story opens with a tragic event that topples Dani’s already unstable life. Struggling with the repercussions over a year later she decides to take a trip with her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor of Transformers: Age of Extinction) and his college pals to Sweden. Specifically, they travel to
Hårga, the commune that his friend Pelle grew up in. There is a celebration that the group is invited to actively participate in. While the environment is warm and natural, there is an ominous undercurrent present that Dani cannot shake. Slowly one by one, the group comes to realize while the festival celebrates life and prosperity, it is at the expense of those living that come from outside the community. They become mired in the sickly sweet ways of the cult members, the outsiders are at first unwilling to leave, then unable to.
This story would not be so disturbing if not for the completely unnerving soundtrack by The Haxan Cloak (Shooter, Stranger Things). The production design, art department, and film crew all deserve huge marks for executing a truly terrifying film in bright sunlight. There are no atmospheric clichés that they could lean on when the scenery and color palette were completely at odds with your typical horror movie fare. For me it made certain scenes all the more shocking because there was no change in the film’s imagery to indicate something horrible was about to happen.
I’m not sure if this was on purpose or if bears hold some deep seated place in pagan cults, but there was a scene in there that reminded me of Nicholas Cage in the remake of The Wicker Man. This film was unexpected and left me completely unbalanced after watching it. I highly recommend watching it if you are a fan of something a little different for your Halloween movie marathon.