Movie Review - Midsommar
This film is also being distributed by A24, a movie company that has built a reputation recently with elevated or prestige, horror films. If one is aware and akin to those A24 horror films, then most likely one will probably be hip to this movie's overall impression. Yet, judging by the reactions of people in my audience, the tone becomes more a comedic tone. Of course, Aster probably intended humor, particularly in certain moments, but unlike Hereditary, there's nothing scary or much of anything to unnerve the audience on a fundamentally dramatic or emotional level.
Florence Pugh (Fighting with My Family and Lady Macbeth) stars as Dani Ardor, a young girl in college who experiences a huge loss in her family. She eventually goes along with her boyfriend to Sweden because his friends are going. She senses that things aren't well in her relationship and that maybe she's too needy. She senses she might be on the verge of breaking up, but she decides to tag along any way.
Pugh gives a good performance of a young woman dealing with grief. She's also good in her portrayal of Dani's neediness as well as her anxiety and trauma. Yet, it's nowhere near as powerful or as much of a knockout as Collette's performance. This has nothing to do with Pugh as an actress. It has to do with Aster's direction and specifically his tone.
William Jackson Harper (The Good Place and Paterson) also co-stars as Josh, one of Christian's friends and fellow college students. Josh is working on his thesis, so he's probably a grad student going for his Master's degree. The reason he's going to Sweden is because he wants to write about the week-long festival. None of this matters though because like most African-American characters in horror, Josh is there merely to add to the body count.
Will Poulter (The Revenant and The Maze Runner) plays Mark, another of Christian's friends. He's the comic relief, as well as another to add to the body count. He's ultimately unnecessary. His presence along with some of the others is meant to underscore something about American culture, but it seemingly doesn't matter. Mark is just fodder for which the film doesn't care.
It's a bit of a letdown because the deaths in Hereditary weren't as shrugged off as they are here. Every death in Hereditary hit me like a ton of bricks, not simply in an easy, superficial or shocking way but in a deeply felt emotional way. Each death in Hereditary was either a gut punch or heartbreaking. The deaths here didn't hit me at all, not in any significant way. Again, each death here felt like it was shrugged off. Often times the deaths occurred off screen, which added to the feeling of shrugged off.
Rated R for grisly images, graphic nudity, strong sexual content, drug use and language.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 27 mins.