Writer-director Ari Aster’s horror Midsommar tells the story of Dani, a young woman in an unfulfilling relationship who is left reeling after a family bereavement.
She and her boyfriend Christian go on a thoroughly strange holiday with college friends. And things begin to go from bad to worse.
Stuck in a small commune in Sweden, Dani and Christian’s
relationship begins to unravel faster than ever.
As Christian’s friends dismiss her, Dani becomes more and more absorbed by her surroundings.
The one person to reach out to Dani is Pelle, the friend who invited them to his homeland to celebrate solstice.
As they grow closer, his motives become more sinister.
Midsommar makes an important statement about trauma. Dani’s
isolation is a reminder about why support networks are so vital in recovery.
The isolated surroundings and bizarre inhabitants create a building sense of unease.
Visually the film achieves a sense of vertigo. Winding shots add to the overall claustrophobic nature of visiting a secluded community.
The commune isn’t just hidden away. It also gives off the classic folk horror vibe of being frozen in time.
Aster relies mostly on psychology to deliver his scares. But there are some moments of obscenely graphic violence.
Midsommar is certainly not for the faint hearted.
Many comparisons have been made to the classic folk horror The Wicker Man, but some scenes are reminiscent of NBC’s Hannibal and occult horror Suspiria.
While the film is undeniably grotesque in places, nature is interwoven with the violence. This makes a sometimes beautiful, and always startling contrast.
With Midsommar, Aster has created a nostalgic tribute to many horror classics. But his overall aim was to challenge audiences’ ideas about the genre.
Unlike traditional horror, all of the action takes place in perpetual sunlight.
And the beginning of the film is shot in dank lighting.
It creates a disconnect between what is happening on screen and what we would normally associate with horror films. In this way Aster delivers something unusual. Despite all the folk horror tropes, Midsommar has an original touch.
What Ari Aster has created has the potential to set a benchmark for over the top horror. It’s not for everyone, but it won’t go under the radar.