“Midsommar,” released in 2019 by the acclaimed director Ari Aster, is a thriller filled with terror, shock, fear, and most of all, the unexpected, and I’m not the only one with this opinion. Film critic Robert Ebert warned, “Be prepared to feel equally suffocated by a ravenous family. In the midst of wide-open pastoral surroundings, we may be, but Aster still wants us to crave and kick for oxygen, perhaps in a less claustrophobic and more agoraphobic fashion.”
Along with Ari Aster’s other films such as “Hereditary” and the short film “The Strange Thing About the Johnsons”, a common theme is strung throughout Midsommar – family and trauma. In the basic horror movie, a viewer can expect ghosts or monsters. However, in “Midsommar,” the viewer is always engaged and uncertain about what to expect. We’re unsure whether to look away or keep watching as Aster immerses us in the Midsommar festival in Sweden, an eerily cultish tradition to welcome the summer season.
Midsommar is such a beautifully filmed piece, while still maintaining an eerie feeling. Even during terrifying satanic scenes or creepy cult rituals, the filming is consistently beautiful. Midsommar also has an intricate plot that is easy to follow while still being complex.
When the main character, Dani, comes home to find her sister and parents killed, she goes into a state of shock. Wanting to get away from the chaos, she joins her boyfriend and his friends on a trip to Sweden for a Midsommar festival. However, the group soon realizes what they thought was a peaceful celebration is actually a pagan cult filled with extreme rituals and requirements.
The protagonist, Christian, played by Jake Reynor, says, “The nature of that leaves the question hanging over the end of the film, whether she’s actually participated in this or whether she’s a victim,” Mr. Reynor said during an interview with Indiewire. “Tonally, when you’re watching it, it feels like a moment of empowerment for her: the liberation of total insanity.” As Mr. Reynor says, any good film leaves the viewer with a sense of questioning, and “Midsommar” does just that, from the first scene to the last.
This movie truly feels like a fever dream, but in the most psychedelic, wild, unexpected way. Despite being a truly amazing piece of cinema, this movie surely isn’t for all viewers. The gory, drug infested, cult-recruiting film is for sure gruesome to see despite Pawel Pogorzelski’s immaculate cinematography. With aerial shots of bounteous green fields, bright flowers, and white garments, graphic realistic shots of cult rituals, and beautifully filmed Midsommar dinners, this film is nothing short of immaculate. This is absolutely a film for mature horror lovers and those who can take the gore of graphic cult rituals.
The purpose of Midsommar is simply up to interpretation. My interpretation essentially relates back to Ari Aster’s recurring themes of trauma and family. Through director Ari Aster and cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski’s work, it’s a mind-boggling film from beginning to end. I was at a loss for words for a while after viewing the movie. The one thing all can agree on is that plot, characters, and cinematography as astounding as this are surely worthy of praise. With 25 wins in various film contests, both indie and mainstream, and 55 nominations total, it’s clear to see this is a film worthy of watching. With an unexplainable plot, thoroughly haunting theme, and unconventional setting, it’s a must-watch. Available to stream for free on Amazon Prime, or for purchase on Amazon video, what are you waiting for? If you love disconcerting cinema, watch this eerie film.