After “Hereditary” comes MIDSOMMAR, a sun-drenched nightmare with which director Ari Aster underlines his status as one of the most unconventional horror directors of the moment. We reveal in our review what makes his new film so special.
What does this fellow have to do with the events?
The plot summary
Although their relationship is on the rocks, Dani (Florence Pugh) joins her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) on a summer trip to a small town in Sweden. Together with Christian’s clique they are invited to a unique Midsummer festival. But the initially idyllic impression of the remote community is deceptive; the friendly villagers gradually behave more strangely: They are preparing for a special Midsummer ritual that is only celebrated every 90 years. What begins as a Puritan celebration of love and happiness soon takes a sinister turn that shakes the sun-drenched paradise to its very core.
Midsommar Movie Meaning & ending
When the independent horror drama “Hereditary” hit international cinemas last year , critics agreed: This film was one of the best the genre had seen in a long time. Audience reactions, on the other hand, were much more divided, as those who were lured by promises like “The best-directed horror film since ‘The Shining’” or “One of the best horror films of all time” in the hope that they would get an abundance of jump scares and superficial horror scenarios were finds himself in the wrong hands with Ari Aster. The now 33-year-old New Yorker had managed to once again provide a stage for the subtle psychological terror of the late 1960s and early 1970s, instead of satisfying the greed for quick shock, as his colleagues James Wan and Co. regularly did in the Cinemas celebrate. Both forms of horror films have their right to exist, but only one of them usually stays in the minds of the audience for a longer period of time. Just like in the case of “Hereditary”, where after visiting the cinema you didn’t laugh about how effectively the film made you cringe, but rather how Ari Aster managed to show you the darkest depths of human suffering firsthand to let you feel it. After “Hereditary” comes “Midsommar”, which also reaches Germany with some praise. And we can reveal this much: If “Hereditary” wasn’t spectacular enough for you, you don’t even need to buy a ticket for the IKEA-look nightmare. Aster, on the other hand, confirms his status as the most interesting horror filmmaker of his generation to everyone else.
In Sweden: Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) can’t believe their eyes…
Like “Hereditary,” “Midsommar” isn’t actually a pure horror film; at least not if you go by what the genre has recently become increasingly defined by (jumpscares and violence), before directors like Ari Aster, Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) , Jennifer Kent (“The Babadook”) or Luca Guadagnino ( “Suspiria”) launched a counterattack. Her vision of screen horror primarily involves exploring exceptional psychological situations, in the course of which the horror slowly makes its way into the viewer’s consciousness through emotions. In the case of “Hereditary,” it all begins with a terrible loss that causes the family in focus to continually slide into madness and, incidentally, raises the question of whether psychological problems are hereditary. Interestingly, “Midsommar” also begins with the deaths of not unimportant people – and the doll-like, symmetrical set design, along with the very slow, as if in slow motion, camera work (“Hereditary” cameraman Pawel Porgozelski) make the prologue look like a scene from “Hereditary “, before sun-drenched, bright images dominate the screen, without the sun itself ever being shown. Nevertheless, these dark opening scenes set the stage for the uneasiness of the next two and a half hours. They not only reflect the state of mind of the depressed protagonist Dani, while drawings and pictures in her room already foreshadow the impending disaster in Sweden. Furthermore, this contrast seems almost cynical, because the clique, especially the couple Dani and Christian, drags the problems that have been pent up in the dark (not only in a figurative sense) until they go on vacation, where the young woman in particular suddenly realizes more and more clearly that in… There is a lot going on in the relationship between the two.
Where in “Hereditary” all the horror was based on the dysfunctional, dependent family structure, the terror in “Midsommar” develops from the seemingly toxic relationship between the two partners, whose lack of inner affection Aster makes no secret of from the start. Early on we see Christian as an egomaniac who shows no interest (anymore) in his girlfriend, who at the same time doesn’t have the courage to separate from her and ultimately only stays with her because the time for a separation is inconvenient. At the same time, Dani (rightly) feels misunderstood by her partner and is holding back her own needs. A vicious circle begins, which perhaps falls behind in the course of everyday duties, but which becomes more and more emotionally damaging during your vacation in Sweden.
What is actually going on here?
The relationships between the remaining friends are also suddenly put to severe tests in the actually relaxed environment of the Midsommar celebrations; For example, if two of the men suddenly want to write a dissertation on the same topic and are unable to resolve this conflict peacefully. The way the interpersonal conflicts build up in this isolation and develop into sheer hysteria is not without biting humor. The characters in “Midsommar” are the epitome of the ironically above-everything hipsters who – with the exception of Dani – never seemed to have had any real problems in their lives and are now confronted for the first time with what happens when the question of where to go on vacation suddenly no longer exists is the biggest problem they have to deal with. And since the cast around Jack Reynor (“Detroit”) , Will Poulter (“Maze Runner”) and Co. embodies this type of role in a pleasantly caustic but not actively contemptible way, you also quite enjoy watching the characters gradually descend into madness too – simply because they somehow deserve it. And Florence Pugh (“Fighting With My Family”) is beyond reproach as the increasingly desperate Dani.
Dani discovers terrible things behind closed doors…
As already announced, “Midsommar” is also a horror film with subtle tones, although Ari Aster manages to once again – not only because of the 147-minute running time, which requires a lot of attention – to create the already unpleasant atmosphere (and thus the atmosphere). can unfold, the two and a half hours pay off again!) with targeted horror inserts, which ultimately clearly place the film in the genre. Sometimes he has heads smashed in close-up. Then again, the supposedly traditional rites take on such crazy traits that you don’t know what to find more horrifying: what kind of ideas the followers of the Midsommar cult came up with at some point, or that they still exist (at least in this film world). There are always people who continue to adhere to these extremely questionable customs to this day. Especially because the tension screw is only tightened very slowly, “Midsommar” also confronts you with another topic: tradition, or rather the blind trust in it. Because while the Midsommar festivities begin with a large community simply dressing up in the same costume for a few days and dancing exuberantly to music and eating according to very special food rules, Aster allows the tone to subtly tip into madness based on isolated events that he also turns his film into a story about the execution of blind obedience. And this, just as in the case of toxic human relationships, is ultimately where the real horror lies.
With so much content, the unprecedented atmosphere of unease that Ari Aster knows how to stir up in the blazing sunlight as well as in the shadows of darkness is not left behind. But for some viewers, it may be the occasional thrill that the makers only stir up when it is really relevant to the story itself. Classic jump scares – moments in which you jump out of your seat in fright, for example because something suddenly appears in front of the camera lens or the volume is turned up to full volume – are almost non-existent in “Midsommar”. However, that doesn’t mean that the film won’t be remembered for its particularly memorable scenes. Ari Aster and his cameraman once again compose fascinating images of horror, from disturbingly perfectly composed food tables from a bird’s eye view to misappropriated mammals. Aster might announce a lot of this a little too aggressively in advance; For example, because every now and then he places drawings or things like embroidered tablecloths so prominently in the picture that you know exactly that they must be foreshadowing. Ultimately, that’s just a side note, because “Midsommar” is so packed with symbolism and subtext that a single viewing isn’t enough to decipher it all at once.
Conclusion: After “Hereditary,” “Midsommar” is director Ari Aster’s second horror masterpiece, which has its strengths even more in the narrative subtext than in the nevertheless remarkably arranged horror images. The director is not an everyday flyer – and “Midsommar” is not genre fast food, but a film whose unique atmosphere you have to get involved with. However, fans of easily consumable jump scare horror won’t be able to do much with this.
“Midsommar” can be seen in USA cinemas from September 26th.