Okay, just hold on a minute…my brain is still processing this film. Right, I think I can do this…here we go. Summer is now in full swing and we have what is most probably the heavyweight contender for the best film of 2019. American film maker Ari Aster returns after his highly acclaimed (and my favourite film of 2018) horror movie ‘Hereditary’. After impressing in his debut feature film last year, the talented director is back to fuck with your mind but this time, in the daylight. ‘Midsommar’ follows a group of Americans as they get invited by their Swedish friend to attend his rural hometowns’ mid-summer festival. Situated in the middle of nowhere in northern Sweden, the group very quickly realise this isn’t your regular mid-summer celebration.
Starring an all-star cast of Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper and Vilhelm Blomgren, ‘Midsommar’ is blessed straight away. Every single actor in this film is faultless and incredible. The stand out actor is easily the British actress Florence Pugh as the lead role Dani. Pugh continues the trend for director Ari Aster as having powerful women in the leading roles of his movies following Toni Collette’s masterclass performance in ‘Hereditary’. Pugh’s character Dani is a fragile and broken character from the opening moments of the movie as she experiences a death in the family and is inconsolable. Thinking by getting away from home life to take her mind off the loss, the complete opposite happens and Dani is faced dealing with death in an unimaginable way.
I mentioned it a lot to people when I saw ‘Hereditary’ for the first time that I thought director Ari Aster was a visionary film maker and would continue to make more films that would freak us out. My prediction has been proven correct with ‘Midsommar’. Utilising the classic recipe for a possession based movie in ‘Hereditary’ by using a lot of night scenes within a creepy house, ‘Midsommar’ completely veers off from that and instantly makes you scared of the day time. This time, Aster is heavily influenced by Robin Hardy’s ‘The Wicker Man’ from 1973. Using the day time for around 99.9% of the movie is a huge challenge, especially for a horror movie as we are all accustomed to the standard ‘night time’ setting for a horror where it’s effectively instilled in our brains. Whilst using the sun and a blue sky as your primary background, ‘Midsommar’ instantly puts you in a haze as you try to anticipate yourself for the jumpy night scenes which never arrive. This has a huge effect as you are never quite prepared for the scenes that will haunt or scar you for a while.
‘Midsommar’ runs at a hefty runtime of 140 minutes, which for a horror is very long. The standard is around 90 minutes, but then again, this is not your average horror movie. After his successful attempt in his debut film, Aster has been gifted with the opportunity to make a horror film a lot longer than the average which has its pros and cons. Its pros are that you are able to squeeze in more content and elongate the story so it comes to a meaningful and satisfying ending without it feeling rushed, which is how we feel when watching this film. The cons are that for your standard horror movie fan, this may be a bit too long and could easily bore you. In my viewing however, this definitely was not the case. ‘Midsommar’ creeped me out big time but left an odd sensation/aftertaste when walking out of the cinema. I didn’t have the feeling that I had when I watched ‘Hereditary’ last year but that doesn’t necessarily make it an inferior film. They are both completely different in their own rights but what I enjoyed the most about ‘Midsommar’ was Aster’s direction as it’s clear that his ability is growing not only as a Horror film maker, but as a director. His ability to create an aesthetically pleasing shot is second to none and somehow knows how to make a horror film look stunning. I’ll need to think more about it, but ‘Midsommar’ is definitely going to be a strong, strong contender for my favourite film of 2019.