By Catherine Erskine
Midsommer tells the story of Dani and Christian, a young American couple with a relationship on the brink of falling apart. But after a family tragedy keeps them together, a grieving Dani invites herself to join Christian and his friends on a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village. However, their carefree summer holiday takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that are increasingly disturbing.
Directed by Ari Aster (Hereditary), the opening scene will make you feel like you are watching the beginning of a Wes Anderson movie. Beautiful, artistic and clear in it’s intent of the perfect shots and scene set up, I was quickly won over by its use of detailed artwork and scenery. Florance Pugh does great work showing Dani’s journey through her grief and the awkwardness of being the girlfriend that no one wants crashing the “guys trip”. While the other cast members played their parts well, it’s difficult to sympathize or relate to the character of Christian (Jack Reynor). Despite his attempt to be the caring but distant boyfriend, there were few redeeming qualities about him. For that reason, its difficult to care for his situation, or theirs as a couple.
I was very much looking forward to seeing MidSommar as I felt it had a potential to be an amazing and different style of horror film. But I was nervous going into it as, from the preview, it seemed as though it also had the possibility of going off the rails. Which, sadly… I think it did in many ways.
At its core, Midsommer speaks to a horribly awkward relationship situation to which many of us can relate. Throughout the film, Dani’s remains codependant towards Christian who is very much too chicken to end their relationship. Furthermore, he eventually finds himself “trapped” by Dani’s family tragedy and drags their relationship out further, despite the fact that neither of them believes its healthy. (Similarly, Midsommer also follows Dani’s codependent relationship with her parents and sister, into her romantic relationship and finally, into the village.)
Still, I felt that Midsommer falls quickly into every “cult” horror movie cliché, using their imagination through its incredibly graphic–but unnecessary–visuals. As a major horror film fan, I completely understand and can appreciate the gory and bloody when it adds to the tension. However, there are few moments in the movie where graphic content enhanced or added to any sense of fear. Was the excess gore because the artists put a lot of effort into these clearly fake heads being smashed? Or was it more awkwardly the belief that this would somehow be another showcase of art in horror. Either way. It just kind of makes you roll your eyes and check it off your ‘horror film cliché’ bingo card. Even the film’s graphic sexual content simply feels like an excuse to show an extended full frontal–both male and female [points for gender equality I guess]–scene that could have left more to the imagination.
In conclusion, Midsommer allows you to feel every minute of the 147 minute run time… and not in a good way. The film had so many opportunities to be a great film yet I was sorely disappointed. While beautiful to the eyes, the film’s story, characters and “horror” will leave you wanting and bored.