Look, this movie is not for everyone. But welcome to the new sub-genre of horror, the Ari Aster film.
Writer/Director Ari Aster made a name for himself as a "talent-to-watch" with last year's critically-acclaimed thriller and box office success, "Hereditary." If you thought that movie was strange and disturbing, you have absolutely no idea what you're in for with Aster's follow-up film, "Midsommar."
RELATED: Read Tom's review of "Hereditary
Aster goes full-tilt, bat-shit crazy in his newest film, a mesmerizing, uncomfortable and dare I say "brilliant" story about a group of friends that attend a mid-summer festival in Sweden. To say things don't go in the directions you think they might is the under-statement of the century.
We know things are "off" from the very beginning. Dani (an absolutely stunning performance by rising star Florence Pugh) is an impressionable young woman who suffers a horrific family tragedy in the opening scenes of the film. Her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor) was on the verge of breaking up with her, but feels a sense of pity and can't bring himself to dump her while she's already at a low-point. A group of his college buddies (William Jackson Harper and Will Poulter) plan a trip to attend a festival in Sweden, since it is one of the friend's, Pelle's (Vilhelm Blomgren), hometown. Dani ends up crashing the guy's trip and comes along at the behest of Christian.
Seems innocent enough, but what follows is a thing of nightmares.
Things devolve quickly, and to spoil the sequence of events that unfold once the group arrives in Sweden would be to ruin the - fun? - of the movie. Let's just say that this rural commune of tree-huggin' Swedes is not at all what they appear to be.
With "Hereditary," Ari Aster dabbled in the occult, but here he encounters it head-on. In that film, Aster showed an uncanny ability to wrench tension out of every frame, with some unexpected camera angles, pushes and musical cues that never allowed the viewer a moment's rest. If you think about it, the plot of "Hereditary" wasn't all that new, it just felt like it was being attacked from fresh angles.
At two-hours-and-twenty-minutes, he takes his time with "Midsommar" to develop each unique character, building that same sense of dread. There are a few missteps (the friendship with Pelle needed to be a lot stronger for the film to be a bit more believable), but hold on to your seat for this one. It goes from creepy to scary to insane to disturbing to nearly unbearable in its final 30 minutes. "Midsommar" is not the sort of film that ever leaves you.
I'd be shocked if "Midsommar" received positive responses from "normal" movie-goers. This is one for the hardcore fan.
But with this effort, Ari Aster has cemented his legacy as a master of horror...this variety being the kind that occurs in broad daylight, making the scares carry even more of a chill with them. Two films into his career, and his work is already like nothing that's come before. As disturbing as it is, it's impossible not to watch "Midsommar" and revel in its madness.
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery.
Run Time: 2 hours 20 minutes.
Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Vilhelm Blomgren, Anna Astrom.
Written and Directed by Ari Aster ("Hereditary").
"Midsommar" is in theaters on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019.
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