Sunday, October 20, 2019

Movie Review of Midsommar

Midsommar Swedish Pagan Cult Ritual
    Csaba Aknay / A24

Midsommar Is An Original Daytime Horror   

There is nothing like a good horror movie to spice up the Halloween season. Here I will review the eyes wide open, because most of it happens in continuous daylight, horror film Midsommar. The director Ari Aster takes the audience on a drug-induced dangerous trip to a far away Pagan cult. If there is a moral message within this movie that the viewers can take away it is to is stay away from toxic relationships and carefully screen your perceived friends.

The movie centers on a fragile relationship between its two leading characters, Dani who is played by Florence Pugh and Christian who is played by Jack Reynor. Christian personifies the self-absorbed boyfriend who wanted to break-up with Dani, but for some reason has not. Dani is a mentally unstable individual who takes copious amounts of medication and regularly sees a psychiatrist. The situation is further exacerbated by Dani suffering a terrible family tragedy. At this point, we see where the movie Midsommar takes its name from.

Unbeknownst to Dani, Christian and his friends have planned a getaway to participate in one of his friends' "commune" festival in Sweden. At the last minute, she decides to join the group in this adventure. The holiday itself appears to be a midsummer solstice festival of Pagan origin. While the pageantry, rituals, and feasts are inviting, they're also very odd and begin to wear and shock the outsiders who endure them. The symbolism with all the etched figurines and cloth paintings are striking and foreshadow the path the group embarks upon.

Horror Runs Through Females in Midsommar

Despite Christian being the foremost egotistic character in this movie, it is Dani, Maja, and a slew of other female characters in the story that are portrayed in the most awful way. It is most anti-feminine, bordering on misogynistic, right from the onset as we see how Dani wears Christian down from the very opening scenes. Her pills symbolize mental instability, her tragedy adds self-harm to family history, and the consistent nagging with which she wears Christian down truly does make it seem that she is what's wrong with the relationship.

When the audience find themselves in the commune during Midsommar, the role of the female is even more pronounced. Constantly scheming and attempting to sway the men into the role of the servant, be it to the commune's somewhat bizarre traditions, or for the purposes of ritual target. Regardless of the scenario shown in this movie, the women always tend to run the show attracting and discarding men as they see fit. Even the focal point of this commune/cult at the height of the festival, the enlightened one, cannot be replaced without the explicit instructions of the elder woman.

Take Flight Only With Trusted Friends 

If someone ever invites you to a festival in an isolated commune in the middle of nowhere in a foreign land, make sure you know that someone very well. Also, trust but verify by research all details of the said isolated commune. The Midsommar invitation to the commune comes casually as a great summer escape from Christian's Swedish acquaintance Pelle, played by Vilhelm Blomgren. Each of the friends are so fixated on their own selfish goals, that they never bother to suspect anything sinister. As the group lands and begins to acclimate to the people around them, they soon begin to realize that this is more of a cult than a harmless commune.

The true measures of a great horror movie are the quality of the story line, whether or not it has enough terror for the audience, and how well disguised is that terror. The story line here, is above average with most of the points earned for originality. Ari Aster is able to seamlessly transition his camerawork from a harmless exchange between friends to a shocking and bizarre ritual that the Pagan cult performs. It is a very contrasting set of emotions that the audience are taken through in this movie, and as far as traditional horror it doesn't disappoint. However the signs, or in the case of Midsommar the symbols, are rather easy to read. And if you are a veteran of horror movie genre, the suspense and disguise of what will happen next is just not there.

Midsommar Unveils Cathartic Conclusion

The journey of our group of travelers gradually comes to an abrupt end for each, as they realize all too late that their intended fates have been written the moment they boarded the plane. Everyone that is, except for Dani. Here we will remind the audience that she was not originally intended to take the trip for Midsommar, and was a last minute addition to this adventure gone wrong. The final casserole of horror involves mind control, betrayal, vengeance, and catharsis. The relationship between Dani and Christian was never meant to last, but the severity with which it is finally exorcised will leave the audience in shock.

Rotten Tomatoes' critics have given this movie a certified fresh grade of 83% approval, while Metacritic has given it a good score of 72 so far. I will have to agree on this one. As far as horror movies go, Midsommar contains a good story, is able to keep the audience terrified with its change of pace and gore, and provides plenty of original imagery. While it comes up short in the suspense, or in the case of horror movies fails to completely disguise what is to come, I still cannot give it a bad score. I give it 4.0 out of 5 stars.

Until next time, grab your popcorn, milk duds, turn off the phone, and enjoy the movie.

30 comments:

  1. Ari Aster did it again. Midsommar is a symmetric representation of fears around individualism and community life. A truly visionary and creative take on contemporary social horror.

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    1. Beti, I'm glad that you enjoyed it. Outside of the heavy-handed symbolic foreshadowing, Midsommar was a thoroughly enjoyable original horror movie.

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  2. This sounds like a fantastic movie, so different than the usual horrors. I am familiar with the Midsommar festivities, I have taken part in them in Sweden so I'd love to watch this film.

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    1. Hi Joanna, from what my Swedish friends tell me, Midsommar veers towards the ancient Pagan rituals that are more extreme but still has some of the elements of the modern summer solstice festival. It is a good horror movie.

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  3. I don't trust Rotten Tomatoes critics any more due to their score manipulation track record, but I like your review and I've added this to my list. I love a good horror flick and that genre has been lacking lately!

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    1. Oscar, you are correct. There are reviewers and newspapers that tend to get preferential treatment from certain studios in exchange for favorable reviews. But Midsommar is a movie is worthy of a watch, despite the heavy-handed foreshadowing.

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  4. havent seen it but sounds interesting. thank you for sharing!

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    1. If you like cult-based horror movies with a dose of relationship strain, then Midsommar is the right film for you.

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  5. Will add to my Halloween countdown list :$ great review without spoilers

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    1. Kenya, definitely worth a view. Midsommar is the type of horror movie that every person with affinity for the season should watch at least once.

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  6. I have heard so much about this movie, but have yet to sit down and watch it. Thank you for the review. I'm really going to have to add it to my watch list.

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    1. Enjoy the movie. This horror has quite the original story line, and despite the heavy-handed symbolism and foreshadowing, it is entertaining.

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  7. I enjoyed this movie although was a bit crazy!

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    1. Bryony, it is quite crazy when you think about it. Midsommar is a horror movie that you only realize what you're watching half-way through.

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  8. I’ve been interested in watching this but horror isn’t usually my go-to. I may have to give it a try, but I’ll probably chicken out.

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    1. Searcy, grab a good friend to pair up with on Halloween to watch this horror movie. Midsommar really tugs at the edge of suspense. But with all the foreshadowing, I doubt that you will be surprised often.

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  9. My girls enjoy horror movies unlike me. They love to torture me with their crazy stories. I will share this post with them, I am sure they will love Midsommar.

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    1. Marjie, definitely do. This is an original concept horror movie. Midsommar takes place mainly in daylight, which is unusual for this genre.

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  10. I've never heard of this movie but will surely love to see it. Thanks for sharing this this will definitely be in my next watch list

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    1. Shadrack, this horror movie is quite enjoyable. Midsommar comes with an original story line and plenty of gore. It is perfect for the Halloween season.

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  11. This seems like an interesting movie with a lot of perpetual symbols and meanings. I have to check it out.

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    1. aisasame, it is pretty original as far as this genre goes. Midsommar has all the makings of a great horror movie, with the symbolism actually taking a little bit away from the suspense factor.

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  12. I've never heard of this movie but I would love to check on this and I like horror movies! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Maysz, if you are a fan of the genre you will enjoy Midsommar. It has everything except maybe the good disguise of upcoming plot wrinkles.

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  13. OoohhI love a good horror! I haven't seen this one. I'll look out for it. Thanks for this!

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    1. Yeah, it's a pretty good horror movie, and a must watch for fans of the genre. The story is fairly original too.

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  14. Seems very interesting movie to watch. Will watch it soon.

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    1. Amelia, enjoy it is very much worth your time. As a horror movie fan, I mostly liked it.

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  15. I love that the premise sounds very different than the usual scary movie. Definitely putting on my list

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    1. Jenn, it is an original horror movie. Midsommar delivers a drug fueled cult ride full of horror and gore.

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