I may as well rename this blog Skincare and Slashers because that’s all I seem to talk about anymore. Or maybe Bloodbaths and Beauty or Murders and Mud Masks. Perhaps Wes Craven’s Winged Eyeliner.
Regardless of the title, I’m going to be talking about some spooky stuff again today. Be warned, light spoilers ahead. This time, it’s Ari Aster’s newest film Midsommar, a movie that doesn’t mess with your head, it smashes it with a ceremonial mallet. This movie left me shellshocked, extremely uncomfortable, and gaping at the credits in horrified silence. Basically, a psychological horror home run.
Continuing Aster’s study and distortion of grief from Hereditary, Midsommer follows the intimate emotional experience of a young woman named Dani who has experienced an unspeakable tragedy. Having just lost her entire family in one fell sweep, she accompanies her long-term boyfriend and his friends on a trip to a remote Swedish village to observe their traditional midsummer festival. What follows amounts to an emotional pressure cooker, as the Americans experience one gruesome and disturbing culture shock after another.
Aesthetically, this film is breathtaking. I deeply regret not seeing this one in theaters, because I can only imagine what the gorgeous landscapes, dreamy use of light and color, and revolting gore would have been like on the big screen. One of the great strengths of this film, for me, was the contrast between those visual elements. Seeing the inside of someone’s skull hits you so much harder when its surrounded by vibrant flowers and frolicking cows.
I will say that this film is not for the faint of heart. Watching it is a grueling experience, and as it finally reached its end (after 2 hours and 18 minutes), I felt completely drained. This is one of the most disturbing films that I’ve ever seen, which I don’t say lightly. It’s not about the blood or the screams, it’s more about the deep sense of wrongness that permeates this movie. You feel like you’re watching something that you shouldn’t–like you are violating the characters’ privacy while they simultaneously offend you in the most personal way. If you’re looking for a light Tuesday night movie with some fun jump scares here and there, look elsewhere. Watching this film is an event, so be ready if you decide to give it a shot.
If you do decide to watch Midsommar, brace yourself, you’re in for an experience. I highly recommend it if you enjoyed Hereditary (well, enjoyed may be the wrong word, maybe “appreciated”) or if you’re into A24’s specific breed of mind-bending horror. And shoot me a message if you do, because I am never going to stop wanting to talk about this one.