*This review is for the Director’s Cut of the film which I saw at a local theater. Spoilers ahead*
It would be an understatement to describe watching this movie as a journey. Nearing 3-hours, ‘Midsommar’ takes the audience on a massive roller-coaster ride that never seems to end. From the terrifying opening scenes to the intense cult rituals to the gruesome murders to the bizarre sex scenes, ‘Midsommar’ takes hold of you and never lets go.
For the first little while, it felt like a Swedish version of ‘Get Out’ in the way the cult seemed to be manipulating people for “other” purposes but as the film progressed I felt a heavy influence from Bergman’s ‘Cries and Whispers’ (which is not a horror film but it is easily the most unsettling film I have ever seen). The suffering that Dani goes through echoes much of the grief and suffering depicted in ‘Cries and Whispers’. The similarities are especially noticeable when Dani starts screaming and moaning in agony which makes me think of Agnes in ‘Cries and Whispers’. It’s loud, it’s terrifying and it’s absolutely gut-wrenching (thankfully, ‘Midsommar’ isn’t even close to being as terrifying as ‘Cries and Whispers’).
It’s also easy to see some of Bergman’s extended influences. The film is set in Sweden, there is a character named Ingemar (close enough), the whole film plays out like a fever dream (like many of Bergman’s works), Aster has an obsession with filming faces much like Bergman/Nykvist, there is a strongly developed female lead. I would be surprised if Aster wasn’t heavily influenced by Bergman because all of the signs seem to point to it.
Anyways, setting aside Bergman, ‘Midsommar’ must be commended for the way it pays attention to detail. There is constant foreshadowing and subtle story-telling happening for those willing to look for the deeper meanings that the film has to offer. After all, ‘Midsommar’ isn’t a horror movie. It is a break-up story that uses folk horror as its basis and it is a character study that uses Dani to examine grief, suffering and what it means to be human. A beautifully shot film with a ton of great moments.
Just a few last thoughts: 1) Will Poulter as Mark was fantastic comedic relief; 2) not only did I get some serious Bergman vibes but I also got reminded slightly of Tarkovsky (although waaay less than I did with Bergman) which was most obvious with the ritualistic sex scene which somewhat reminded me of ‘Offret’ by Tarkovsky ; 3) Florence Pugh’s performance as Dani is one of the best performances of the year, if not the best.
8/10 – Great