04th Jul2019

‘Midsommar’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Dag Andersson, Björn Andrésen, Anders Back | Written and Directed by Ari Aster

midsommar-poster

Midsommar is the sophomore effort and highly anticipated follow up in director Ari Aster’s filmography, after his critically acclaimed directorial feature debut Hereditary, released in 2018. Midsommar follows Dani (Florence Pugh) along with her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and two of his classmates Mark and Josh (Will Poulter and William Jackson Harper) who are invited to a rural mid-summer festival that takes place every ninety years in Sweden. Much like Aster’s predecessor, it is best to head into Midsommar with as little knowledge as possible regarding the events within the film. Avoid all trailers and promotional material and what you’ll experience is a spellbinding majestic provocative horror at its most dire and gleeful best.

The greatest strength of Aster’s film is that it thankfully isn’t Hereditary 2.0. It is an evolution of a craft. Incorporating all the elements that flourished in his predecessor in regard to tone and human emotion. Growing said elements artistically as well as grooming a level of contextual existential crisis that arises with daunting tension as the film builds. Aster is no doubt evolving horror as a genre in a way that will have repercussions for decades to come. The intention of crafting a slow burn with bubbling tone and atmosphere. Rather than overly chaotic gore that horror tends to do so results in an invigorating and formidable feature that has a multitude of faces and personalities. With such a manic personality Midsommar unravels into a gloriously unpredictable firestorm of narrative and Aster makes his audience wait for every single second of trauma in the most harrowing and visceral manner.

Florence Pugh as Dani puts forward a performance nothing short of stunning. Evoking what is potentially the most provoking and authentic display of grief witnessed on a cinema screen. The levels and weight of Dani’s emotional plight are orchestrated and conveyed in the most visceral and authentic embodiment of anxiety and depression. It at times hits incredibly close to home and the organic nature of each fragile state is harrowing to see manifest and take shape. Combined with the jagged relationship with her boyfriend Christian and the circumstance that brought Dani to where she is in her life at Midsommar, writer and director Aster creates a boiling pot of fragility and genuine sensibility.

The tension and pressure between the group grows in a slow progressive darkly atmospheric edge. Held with astonishing weight and atmospheric tautness with the intensity of Pawel Pogorzelski’s cinematography. The images on the screen are spellbinding from Pogorzelski who exercises the camera in such a high level of pressure with tight close-ups, with the addition of long takes from editor Lucian Johnston who doesn’t let the audience for a second escape the awkward and eerie circumstance that surrounds these characters. Capped off with an outrageously effective score by Bobby Krlic of which is electrifying and magnificent with colossal fervour and energy.

Aster’s Midsommar evokes a truly audacious level of authenticism and naturality, rather than forced manipulative aggression for the sake of dramatic purpose, and with that, the film doesn’t particularly suffer from genre convention and predictability. You’re engulfed from the get-go and aside from two or three threads that don’t lead to satisfying ends, all in all, Aster provides a chilling discussion of human insecurity with gleefully horrifying results. The running time of one hundred and forty-seven minutes is a push for anyone and considering this a tactile slow burn it’ll be a slight slog for some, however, all will be overwhelmed and immersed by the final result in a level of truly satisfying and disturbing horror.

Midsommar is in cinemas now.

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