Humans are terrrrrrrrrrible, and Ari Aster’s Hereditary explored the extents to which family will even wreck your life. Now with the less scary but even more unsettling Midsommar, Aster leaves the lights dialed to 11 for a creepy exploration of abandonment, rebirth, and tradition. From psychedelic hallucinations to unknowably manipulative, terminal and sexual rituals to untrustworthy behavior from the commune and its visitors, Midsommar captivates through a horrific scene of quaint insanity.
The anthropological trip from hell (or whatever Nordic hell is called) is guided by Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) in an emotionally raw, endlessly vulnerable portrayal of giving into the conclusions in one’s life; difficult decisions play across her face with increasing payoff, grief borders the intensity and all encompassing nature of Collette’s in Hereditary. How does a director teach grief with such a wallop? The willful transgressions faced in the unfamiliar, unflinching barbarism of their neverending sojourn into ancient life cycle rituals, twisting with the mutating dinners and ethereal visions that really sink into a relatable fear of death motif.
Each scene transitions from the fascinating to the perverse with sneaking ease. The design of Midsommar is as blistering as the sunlight; the wallpaper would be perfect for scaring off pesky in-laws if you find the need to decorate. If the ill-prepared for trippy horror don’t ruin the audience consensus, this eerie spectacle could land itself as quintessential solstice viewing as we prepare for our orgies and blood sacrifices. The sun is evil, people! Why haven’t you been listening to us?