Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter
Directed by Ari Aster
One of my favourite moments in Ari Aster’s wickedly stunning debut Hereditary involves Toni Collette’s character suffering a meltdown as demonic forces turn her world upside down. It’s a sight to behold.
Now, it’s Florence Pugh’s turn to lose her s*** in Aster’s highly-anticipated follow-up. Like in Hereditary, Midsommar focuses on yet another cult, this time a pagan sect in a remote part of northern Sweden (doubled by Budapest).
Pugh plays Dani, a slightly unhinged young woman who alongside her emotionally unavailable boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his pals (Will Poulter and The Good Place’s William Jackson Harper) are lured to this hermetic community where they’re embroiled in its bizarre revelry and rituals.
The moment Dani & Co. step into the seemingly quaint village of Hårga, they seal their fates, becoming pallbearers at their own funeral. Well, some of them anyway.
Is Midsommar scary? Not really, at least not in the traditional sense. But it has this mesmerising weirdness that’s off the charts. Hey, what’s a cult movie without a human sacrifice or two, talk of ancient prophecies, and some drug-induced fornication? Welcome to Sweden!
Aster and his collaborators have deftly conjured an unsettling atmosphere, a sense of dread and awe that takes its sweet time — a butt-numbing 140 minutes! — to get under the viewer’s skin. (Good news if your tush is made of steel: Aster is releasing the director's cut, said to be half-an-hour longer.)
The movie becomes so increasingly surreal that it feels like you’re trapped in a lucid fever dream. Even after the macabre final reel — where the s*** hits the fan and pretty much everywhere else — when the end credits roll and the houselights are on, I'm not sure what to make of it.
In fact, I find it hard to describe my reaction. Maybe these GIFs will do the job.
In other words: Whether you like the movie or not, be prepared for one helluva experience. (****)