Critiquing Film, Television, and More

Ari Aster’s Midsommar is Going to Tear the World Apart

“Midsommar is Hereditary for hippies.”

This quote rivals the voguish comparisons that will be patently fashioned too Ari Aster’s more than triumph debut. Midsommar: Another horrific dabble into an individual dealing with the reduction of a loved one and another horrific cause for a low audience score on film-data-based websites due to the contemporary public that might become even more upset from Aster’s riskier take on trauma than his previous take. Toffee-nosed, flower-power folk-lore or not, the illusionistic tendencies that Midsommar brings to the table are extreme and like most things extreme, some may worship it, and some may find it to be a critical offense to the normalities and comforts of what we have become submitted to.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more polarized by a movie in quite some time. Midsommar handles grief like a pushover and ices out shrewd dark humor like a walk in the park. It’s brilliant at being disturbing and it’s brilliant whenever it decides to shine at us some unusual, imaginative images. These are the strong aspects that I have pinpointed from this unsolvable handiwork. However, in spite of the praise, I think Midsommar’s biggest weakness comes within its choices of being indecisive, of being cluttered, and of being strictly a wild card of a player.

The set-up for Midsommar is phenomenal! It is borderline familiar to a lot of Hereditary’s junctures but it’s different enough to the point where it seems like it’s fabricating its own, new and tonic pathway. This is the only part of the movie where I actually felt as if the characters on screen were more than just bits of material or items of clothing; they actually felt like bonafide characters. Side-note, but Florence Pugh is additionally one the sturdiest trademarks about Midsommar. I’m sure you’ve already heard, but, she kills it in this movie.

The cinematography and visual effects are pretty much faultless. I savored the bright and vivid usage of colors and fluorescents; it might just be my favorite asset of Midsommar. The drug inciting perspectives are just purely refreshing to witness. Bobby Krlic’s score, furthermore, is one of the best of the year.

Okay, now let me say this quickly, so we can get it out of the way: I idolized the first half of Midsommar and I thought the second act of it was just alright. Don’t get me wrong, the second half has striking moments like the final shot of the movie, but I do have freights of flaws of how it executes its story. The second half is, moreover, around the time when the movie starts introducing more horror-like components and is the moment when this movie starts trying to become “slashy-dashy scary” rather than just being solely unsettling. This is when Midsommar’s second half sort-of flunks for me.

When you get down to the nitty-gritty bones of this flick, past the stronger ingredients of its entirety like its explorations of misery and break-ups, this really does just feel like a cliché evil cult movie. Oops, someone disappears, oh look, another person disappears. Hey look, people are doing weird things that you wouldn’t expect people to do, would you look at that? Hmmm…oh and expected, non-developed or accelerated horror sequence, oh dear, no! 

At times, Midsommar does kind of appear like it’s relying its frights to the tritest of the trite. THERE’S NO GENUINE SUSPENSE WHEN IT COMES TO THE HORROR (NOT THRILLER) ATTEMPTS IN THIS MOVIE. SCARES JUST HAPPEN. Side-note too, but I recently saw the OG The Wicker Man for the first time and hell, this movie might as well be labeled a “soft reboot” of it because my golly are they similar!

My issue with the finale is that it tries to mingle both dramatic and comedic elements into one lodge, and it just withers the effect of Aster’s message. Like I clearly got the memo but there’s a huge difference between communicating your message and letting the audience “experience” your message. The finale starts to hit a point where “weird” has or has not become too weird for its own good and you sort of have to ask yourself, “is flaring off spontaneous oddness clever or is it easy, or do our creators have only the sole aim to get a reaction from the audience rather than utilize its cranks for a primer endeavor or not?” We can’t all achieve somehow balancing tonal inconsistencies perfectly like David Lynch. 

Also, some of the writing is kind of…awful? Like it’s occasional and certainly not consistent, but primarily, a lot of lines that Jack Reynor’s character delivered borderline reminded me of some of Shyamalan’s writing from The Happening. That’s not a good sign.

In defiance of my offload of affairs I had with Midsommar, I want to reassure for those who are reading this that I did “like it” in the end. It’s an adequately eminent thriller/dark comedy that I sort-of fancied. I still lionize the way Aster paces his movies; it’s indeed soothing and patient, but this is a major step down from Hereditary (2018) in my opinion. I like how that movie stuck with a singular, juicy topic and decided to carry it and integrate it through most of its storyline.

Midsommar seems like it has multiple schemes that it wants to place all impulsively into contrasting sections of a jumbled piece. But was it a somewhat admirable jumbled piece? You bet your bottom dollar it was! Notwithstanding the flaws, I can’t deny that there’s something quite “special” about this operation. I don’t know if it deserves the title “masterpiece” though, fellas, but we’ll see. Maybe after I rewatch Midsommar down the road from now, I’ll finally understand what most horror/thriller junkies are savagely devouring within this misfit. Regardless, I can’t wait to see what Ari Aster makes next. He indisputably has ambition, to say the least.

Verdict: C+ 

This Movie is a Part of My List: God’s Studio—I Mean—A24 Ranked

“Midsommar” is now playing in theaters.

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