Talk about a boyfriend being on the hot seat…
Every once in a while, you will see something that is creepy and maybe even demented, yet beautiful at the same time. The thought of a slimy caterpillar turning into a thriving butterfly could be an example of this to some people. Ironically enough, that same example can also speak as a metaphor for writer/director Ari Aster, who may be blossoming into Hollywood’s next great horror mind. His latest project, MidSommar, perfectly sums up the idea of watching a film so dark evolve into a bright masterpiece.
MidSommar is about a girl named Dani (Florence Pugh) going through an awkward time in her relationship with her long-time boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor). In the midst of a family tragedy, Christian recognizes that Dani could use a change of scenery and invites her to come on his “bro-trip” to Sweden with his friends Josh (William Jackson Harper), Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) and Mark (Will Poulter).
When in Sweden, the group is going to visit Pelle’s hometown and attend their annual mid-summer festival. However, as gorgeous as the backdrop of the endless green hills and bright blue skies are, there’s something sinister hiding in plain sight.
This is where Aster gets crazy.
Aster, whose previous major work was last year’s Hereditary, is quickly becoming an elite writer/director in the horror genre of filmmaking. I thought Hereditary was one of the weirdest, most disturbing movies I had ever seen (I would rank it somewhere amongst A Clockwork Orange, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Requiem for a Dream and Mother!). That was, of course, until today.
MidSommar by far is the one of the biggest paradoxes I’ve seen on the big screen. It is absolutely the creepiest, darkest, strangest movie I have ever seen. More importantly, coming from a guy who doesn’t get frightened easily, it also is one of the scariest. Yet somehow at the same time, it’s one of the most beautiful, articulate films you’ll ever see.
I read that when the cast of MidSommar got their first view of the completed product, they were all speechless and freaked out – join the club. Aster brilliantly wrote a film that grosses you out, but makes you want more with every jaw-dropping moment, like a drunken college co-ed at a frat party getting drunk to the point of throwing up, yet continues to go back to the keg.
The awe that comes with Aster’s brilliance is the fact that he made a horrific film draped in a potential real-life situation. There are no ghosts in this movie pulling comforters off of someone while they sleep. There are no undead slasher villains waiting patiently for their next kill behind a closet door. Cults are real. They are no joke, and Pelle’s irrational community makes scientology look like a fun summer camp. While both movies are intended to speak metaphorically, the actual premise and execution (pardon the pun) of MidSommar makes Get Out look like a harmless weekend getaway. After watching Hereditary and now MidSommar, I don’t know if I want to commend Asher for his creativity, or recommend him for a mental evaluation. I appreciate outside-the-box creativity, so I’ll go with the former – well done, sir.
Regarding the metaphor here, I ingested MidSommar as being a symbol to show the depths of damage that remaining in an inevitably dying relationship can cause to those directly involved. Aster’s script is exceptional, blending in horrific events with random comedy, mainly from Will Poulter’s portrayal of Mark. It also allows for a debate regarding if the movie is about a sick and twisted cult, or more a tragic love story.
Regardless of where your opinion falls in that debate, I think it is safe to say both sides can agree that MidSommar is abstract art with a cinematic big-screen as its canvas. I don’t know how the awards circuit will view it when the awards season comes around, but even though it’s still early in the movie year, MidSommar might just be the best film I’ve seen this year so far (along with Us, yet another horror film). It’s time to allow the horror genre a seat at the awards tables!
MidSommar is a movie that is beautifully haunting, if there ever was something of the sort. It’s a silent thriller with exceptional acting and an ending that will leave you breathless. If you appreciate “weird,” and you love art and creativity, then you should definitely check this movie out. But because of all those things, it also is not for everyone, and I understand that. Like Aster’s Hereditary, or even Aronofsky’s Mother! before it, MidSommar is a film that whether you love it or you hate it, you absolutely will never forget it – nor should you.
MATTER RATING: 9/10
OSCAR SCALE: 5/10 (Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography)
BY: CHRIS GUEST