“It’s sort of a crazy festival…” (Midsommar review)

From director Ari Aster (‘Hereditary’) comes a modern folk horror to topple ‘The Wicker Man’. With terrifying scenes and gripping character conflicts, it’s a gory and tense experience sure to satisfy any movie lover.

After experiencing a dark tragedy, Dani decides to join her boyfriend and his mates as they travel to Sweden to attend a festival that happens once every 90 years. The idyllic commune they’re living with (called the ‘Hårga’) seem to have odd traditions, almost all of it fuelled by psychedelic mushrooms. In classic folk horror style, these ‘traditions’ will start to tear the group apart, metaphorically and literally.

Florence Pugh anchors the film as Dani, and the majority of the film is seen from her point of view. As a small group of outsiders in this commune, Pugh provides the audiences window into the world of the Hårga, and her stunningly brave and emotional performance is perfect for that. Dani’s inner turmoil is a tread carried throughout the film, and Pugh is breathtakingly visceral in her performance. The rest of the cast includes Jack Reynor as Dani’s boyfriend, and William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren and Will Poulter as his three friends.

What makes the film so fascinating is that, similar to ‘The Fly’ being a love story as well as a horror film, this is a break up drama as well as a horror. This added emotional depth makes the attachment to the characters far more tangible, and the circumstances more believable. Ultimately, this also adds far more tension to the narrative, and darkness to the ultimate consequences of the film’s story.

The film is so tightly constructed by Aster that it’s almost impossible to truly break it down. Striking imagery and shocking twists are used to disorient the audience, and the effect is an experience that could only be likened to the psychedelic trips the protagonists themselves are taken on. Additionally, the camera work from Pawel Pogorzelski favours symmetry and perfection. This further adds to the idyllic atmosphere, which in turn heightens the horrors that occur.

Overall, Midsommar is a breathtaking experience into the world of ritualistic terror. Sporting shocking imagery, visceral performances and a tense score from Bobby Krlic, it cements Ari Aster as a horror master to be reckoned with.

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