This review is a little late. Last week, I saw the new Ari Aster movie Midsommar. Please note, if you plan on seeing this movie, this review has one or two spoilers in it. No, I am NOT going to give the ending away, but know that this is probably the most WTF movie I have ever seen. Like, it is so insanely messed up! But I guess that’s to be expected from Ari Aster. Anyone who has seen his first movie, Hereditary, can attest to this. Aster’s sophomore movie, Midsommar, really ups the ante.
At its core, Midsommar is about a couple struggling to keep their relationship going. The main male character, Christian, is kind of wanting to get away from his girlfriend, Dani. He decides to go to Sweden with a few of his college buddies to write a thesis. Well, big surprise, Dani goes with them. This is where the “Holy shit! What the fuck am I watching?!” parts kick in. One of the characters in the movie, Pelle, is from a small village in Sweden. It’s hours away from civilization so everyone knows each other. Pelle is a Swede who is aware of the culture in the village and even warns the others in his group not to pry, ask questions, or try to get involved.
The village elders are very protective of their traditions and culture. So after getting denied permission to write a thesis on the culture of the village, the Christian and the others go snooping and sneaking to get information. Of course, they get caught. I am not going to go into detail about what happens to them. You’ll just have to see the movie for yourself.
One of the most gruesome and graphic scenes in the movie is a village gathering. As explained by Pelle, in his village’s culture, life is seen like seasons. Spring is from ages 0-18, Summer is 18-36, Fall is 36-54, and Winter is 54-72. Dani asks what happens when you turn 72. As it turns out, at age 72, the village gathers to watch the elders jump from a cliff to commit ritualistic suicide. And yes, they show the aftermath of the jump, and yes it is sickenly graphic.
One elder jumps headfirst and dies on impact. The other elder jumps feet-first. His legs shatter and the bone is sticking through the skin. The elder is laying on the ground, with bone sticking out from his leg and then…this is so fucked up…two villagers come over and bash his head in with a mallet.
One of the customs is a May festival, or a “Midsommar” festival, hence the name of the movie. Sweden is known for being light for almost 24 hours, so Ari Aster takes advantage of that. There are very few moments in the movie that are dark. So one of the festival activities is the women dancing around a Maypole. Dani is talked into joining in. The objective is simple. Keep dancing around the pole until all but one have fallen due to exhaustion. It’s actually one of the more innocent parts of the movie and is beautifully shot.
Dani wins and is crowned May queen. It’s from there that the movie takes a REALLY dark turn. Christian is attracted to one of the women in the village, and she has a massive crush on him. So much to the point that she sneaks her pubic hair into his food and drugs his drinks to seduce him. Yeah, like I said…this movie is all sorts of weird and messed up. So it culminates in Christian actually having sex with the girl. So you can probably figure that one out. Dani finds out by seeing this happening through a keyhole.
The last 20 minutes of the movie are ultra intense. It’s so intense that literally nobody could say or do anything watching it. All the other people in the theater—all 6 of them, myself included—could do was watch in horror. As I said, I am not going to give away the end of the movie, but it is so shocking that I was stunned into silence. It takes a lot for me to not be able to say anything at the end of a movie, but this was the case with Midsommar.
I read an interview with the cast of the movie. ALL of them said “None of us said anything after the end of the movie. For the last 20 minutes, we were in complete shock!” If a movie can do that to the people who were in it and the people who made it…that should be a warning as to how ridiculously insane this movie is. Every single review I have read for this movie all say the same thing. That this is a drug-induced, hallucinogenic horror film.
Why drug-induced and hallucinogenic? Well the movie involves the characters doing drugs. Dani is so impacted by the mushrooms and pot, she sees grass growing through her skin at multiple points in the movie. It’s twisted, believe me.
So would I recommend this movie? I mean, my answer will vary. If you like shocking movies and that kind of thing, I recommend seeing it at least once to say you’ve seen it. But if you are easily grossed out, then HELL NO! DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE! So for its final score, I am giving Midsommar a 8.5/10. Why is it not getting higher? It’s just that “What the Hell am I watching?!” factor that brings its score down. But I did like the movie. So that’s my review of Ari Aster’s Midsommar. Let me know what you think of this review and if you intend on seeing this movie. Thanks for reading!