Midsommar is the festival of the summer - a horrific hit
- Credit: Archant
They say that lightning doesn't strike twice, yet Midsommar is proof that sometimes the improbable does occur. Ari Aster, who helmed last year's horror hit Hereditary, returns a mere 12 months later with another chilling tale that is bound to produce sweaty palms and, thanks to the brutal violence and surreal tone, even a few walkouts.
Aster is on writing and directing duties, as he was for his 2018 directorial debut, and it's a real testament to his abilities that he once again instils an imposing sense of dread throughout, without the reliance on cheap jump scares either.
For all the praise that can, and certainly will, be lavished upon Midsommar, there is one mark against it. The film clocks in at a lengthy 147 minutes, and while it's mostly engaging, there's a spell in the second act where things do get a little plodding.
That relatively minor criticism aside Midsommar is otherwise virtually flawless. It's a haunting journey, that explores some genuinely deep themes, all contained within the classic horror framework of a seemingly idyllic festival that turns out to be slightly more sinister than the pamphlet suggested.
Florence Pugh plays Dani, a girl dealing with an unimaginable loss, who tags along with her uncaring boyfriend and his friends to a traditional Swedish festival. Pugh's performance is note perfect - understated when required but fiercely bold as the horrific proceedings kick off.
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The performance of Jack Reynor - who plays the unsympathetic boyfriend more concerned with a good time than his partner's emotional state - is another highlight, but the whole cast shines across the board.
Much like Hereditary there's much to unpack in Midsommar - a second watch feels almost vital. Though for those with a weaker disposition, once may be enough. While they're never glorified or used for shock value, the moments of gore in Midsommar are intense and disturbing.
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Surprisingly for a horror film, Midsommar takes place almost exclusively in bright sunshine, which only makes the palpable atmosphere of terror in the film's third act all the more eerie.
With some black humour sprinkled into the mix, and plenty of subtext for genre fans to unravel, Midsommar really does offer the complete package. It won't be for everyone - as great art often isn't - but for those who can stomach it, Midsommar stands as one of the year's most carefully-crafted delights.
5/5 - A horrific hit