Review: Midsommar (2019)

Director/Screenwriter: Ari Aster
Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, Liv Mjones, William Jackson Harper
Genres: Horror, Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use, and language
Release Dates: 7/3/19 (Wide Theatrical); 9/24/19 (Disc/Streaming–Amazon Prime, Kanopy)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

The main reason I wanted to watch this film, which hadn’t piqued my interest upon its theatrical release, is because I loved Florence Pugh’s work in Little Women, and wanted to see another of her 2019 performances that critics had been praising. Pugh certainly did not disappoint in director Ari Aster’s follow-up to 2018’s excellent supernatural flick, Hereditary.

Pugh is the best thing about this movie, which is difficult to review, because — unlike Hereditary — it is not a typical horror film but it is one that is extremely well-made. I can see why and how it has been so divisive. And, honestly, after watching it, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. It is certainly more of a slow burn horror/thriller, gorgeously filmed and scored, yet it does not became nearly as terrifying or creepy or even gruesome as one might expect (with a few notable exceptions).

Midsommar has only a couple of jump scare-type horrors, and those looking for something more similar to Hereditary may be disappointed. Aside from Pugh’s character’s hallucinations, the plot is grounded in reality, wacky as it gets at times. There are definitely some [in my opinion] boring and lifeless moments, yet there is some silence that is even creepier than the noise surrounding it.

The best parts of the movie are the most poignant and they mirror each other: the first and last 15-ish minutes. The beginning sets up the tragedy that precedes the trip to Sweden, as well as the relationship between the primary couple (who, interestingly enough, are never seen kissing or holding hands). The ending is a bit heavy-handed with the metaphors, but it doesn’t make it any less impactful.

Anyone who has a sensitive stomach should not watch this film, although, as someone who can handle Game of Thrones-level violence and such, I was actually hoping for more. Also, there is much that is confusing to the viewer (I assume I’m not the only one), things that I didn’t understand until Googling or checking the Trivia section of IMDB.