Dani (Florence Pugh) is a young lady who’s in mourning from the loss of her entire immediate family: her sister, while committing suicide by car exhaust, killed their parents as well. Meanwhile, her less-than-committed boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) has been planning a trip to Sweden with his buddies Josh (William Jackson Harper), Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), and Mark (Will Poulter) to study their mid-summer festival. Dani decides it’s just the thing she needs and comes along, not knowing she’s in a horror movie. The rituals, it turns out, are definitely not for outsiders to enjoy.
It’s written and directed by Ari Aster, who did Hereditary. That film left a lot of people angry and confused. I remember loving it, but I needed an explanation of it on YouTube to fully grasp the intricacies of the storyline. Similarly, Midsommar is not for everybody. For me the scene that crosses the line to unnecessarily bizarre is when Dani is wailing in emotional agony, and her May Queen attendants join her, so they’re all screaming and crying. Aster is big on depicting grief, like destroyed by loss, on all fours and howling like a banshee kinda stuff.
There’s plenty to like, though. The cinematography is stunning (though the movie was mostly filmed in Hungary and not Sweden).
There are some truly eerie moments, like this one, when you can see the face of Dani’s sister in the trees:
It’s pretty gory, if you’re into that. It is about two and a half hours long, but I didn’t feel a lag or that there was anything irrelevant to the plot. Tension is built up right from the start, and sustained admirably throughout.
One of my biggest gripes–and an admittedly shallow one–is Dani’s hair. Maybe her obvious dark roots are meant to further convey grief, but seriously, that’s exactly what films have stylists for.
Naturally I’m going to complain that there’s soooooo much white. Just a sea of white folks in the white-hot sun. Wearing white. Which is to be expected for a Scandinavian country, but if you think that critically acclaimed directors don’t follow that tired tradition of People of Color Die First, in this case you’d be wrong.
But overall I enjoyed it, as did my sister and brother-in-law, though none of my friends did. I feel bad especially for Hope, who turned it off after an hour but finished the last hour and a half after I encouraged her. She hated it. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for something artsy and gore-geous.
If you’re curious, here is the trailer with Aster’s commentary: