8/10 Last year I picked “Hereditary” as the Best Film of 2018. The writer/director behind that film followed it up with this film which acts as somewhat of a companion piece to his freshman effort. Although “Midsommar” is not quite as strong as his debut feature, this is still a great film worth seeing (if you have a strong stomach) and so far, easily the best horror film of 2019. This was my 6th Most Anticipated Film of 2019 and cements Ari Aster as one of today’s most exciting film makers to watch out for. The opening is extremely memorable and instantly grabs your attention. There is some brilliant editing and scene transitions throughout the film but especially early on. There is some excellent foreshadowing that is subtle enough that you may not even notice upon your first viewing of this film. Having the vast majority of this film bathed in bright sunlight and beautiful, vibrant colors while horrific and violent events take place is quite awe inspiring and refreshing to see in a horror film. Hallucinations are also an important part of this story and how the hallucinations are shown onscreen are wonderfully rendered and very trippy to watch. The direction here is so controlled and is extremely well done. This might be the best directed film of 2019 so far. Comparing the film to “Hereditary” does provide some interesting insights. “Hereditary” was a family drama in the skin of a horror film, very dark and bleak and has a character making a clicking sound with her mouth that continues after she is gone. “Midsommar” is a breakup drama in the skin of a horror film, very bright and sunny and has characters that make heavy breathing sounds with their mouths that continues throughout the film. There are very memorable moments in this film and the cast is great. The real stand out is Florence Pugh, whom has had a few other roles before but this was the first film I had seen her in and she is a revelation here. It makes me want to check out more of her work. Will Poulter is also really funny and for such a horrific tale, having some comic relief was a very wise decision that paid off. The production and costume design are great and there is some wonderful cinematography at work here. I really cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed watching this film unfold. So why am I giving it an 8/10 and not higher? Well as much as the elements that worked really worked, there were a couple of flaws that makes it fall short of the brilliance of “Hereditary”. The film’s biggest sin is that it is very heavily influenced by “The Wicker Man”. There are a few events that are pretty much straight from the original 1973 movie. Even though I found “Midsommar” to be a much better film than “The Wicker Man”, it still owes quite a bit to it. There were also characters making some really bad decisions and being pretty ignorant as to what was going on, even after many red flags were visible. Finally, a couple of minor things were predictable but overall I wouldn’t say this was a predictable film. Just a few story beats that happen were pretty obviously coming, which was not the case with “Hereditary”. Despite some minor short comings, this is one Hell of an experience that I will not soon forget and look forward to revisiting. If you are into horror films, make this your “sommar” destination.
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