"Oh my – is that how much money Avengers: Endgame has made so far this year?!" Christian (Jack Reynor) and Dani (Florence Pugh) look on in horror in a scene from writer/director Ari Aster's MIDSOMMAR. Credit: Merie Weismiller Wallace, courtesy of A24. © 2019 A24. All rights reserved.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Archie Madekwe, Ellora Torchia, and Will Poulter

DIRECTOR(S): Ari Aster

THE BACK STORY: Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) are in a relationship. A bad relationship. And they need to break up. But just as Christian's friend Mark (Will Poulter) – along with Josh (William Jackson Harper), who is getting ready to complete his Ph.D research – convinces him that he should break up with Dani, tragedy strikes. So, not only does Christian NOT break up with Dani, he decides to invite her along on the trip that he, Mark and Josh are to take to Sweden. They are headed to Sweden courtesy of an invite from Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), a foreign exchange student who has invited them to come just in time for Midsommar, the biggest festival in his village of the year.

But with almost perpetual daylight permeating the village, Dani, Christian and company are about to learn that some nightmares can happen right out in the open.

THE REVIEW: "Maybe it's just me."

The scariest thing about Midsommar is that it not only got made and some people will enjoy it, but that you can expect yet another piece of schlock to come from writer/director Ari Aster as a result.

You know the expression "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me"? Well, it's a pretty safe bet I won't be going to see one of Aster's works for a third time as Midsommar is two hours and 20 minutes of a SLOW, you can see all of this coming gory and freaky "film" that uses his visuals to cover up for a lack of something, you know, good.

As someone who was not a fan of Aster's previous work, 2018's Toni Collette-led vehicle Hereditary, I was prepared for what I thought I would be getting with Midsommar. And boy, was I not wrong as the film (1) has a deliberately slow pace intended to build drama that feels like a certain well-known torture technique as scenes play  out drag out needlessly in (2) fake art house cinematic fashion. Throw in (3) Aster's signature gory, unflinching visuals which are more gross than great art even by many horror movie standards and (4) a story that doesn't inherently possess any more intrigue than "this is happening to these characters" versus why it's happening to them. Seriously, outside of Pugh, everyone else is essentially fodder for a body count. The film will likely feel as long for the audience as it does for its characters, which is a shame because it didn't have to be as devoid of intrigue other than "does this end the way I think it will (it does)" if you've been paying attention. At best, Midsommar is the type of film that will make most rational people go "Well ... That was ... different" when what they really mean is "That was atrocious! At no point was I truly scared, the characters are so one dimensional that you only really care about the one and the story is so morose I guess  I paid money to feel bad because I wanted to and didn't know it."

Now, perhaps you are among those that still enjoy watching movies where you are smarter than the characters – who are clearly too stupid to see something is amiss – and movies where weird for the sake of weird is the norm. Maybe you just can't wait to see the year's craziest sex scene outside of a Game of Thrones re-run complete with full frontal nudity from both genders. Or perhaps you want to go to a movie just to watch something where you and your hipster friends can revel in the lush landscape shown onscreen while the story, no matter how stunted or familiar – it might FINALLY be time to let Nicolas Cage off the hook for most of those Wicker Man (which this movie borrows from HEAVILY) jokes now – Midsommar is.

The one nice thing I can and will say is that Pugh turns in a very dedicated performance as Dani, making you feel all her anguish, pain and depression at every turn. That in turn does help add to the movie's overall feel-bad vibe, but save for the big reveal – I'm not going to spoil it for those of you determined to see in spite of this review – but Pugh shows her mettle with a great performance in an otherwise not-so-great movie.

Believe me when I tell you – I hate writing in first person, but with a movie like this, it's hard not to – that unless you are (1) a fan of those slower, 60s and 70s style horror movies that wanted to be Alfred Hitchcock films but lacked the originality and flair; (2) are the type of person that watches a movie and often finds yourself saying things like "ahh, the subtext" or "oh – a wry homage to ..." or (3) just are the type that turns off your brain and completely buys in to the events in a movie, you should probably just stay home. And to all those who would say, "Well, you just didn't get it," I would counter with "No, I got it. I just hated it to the point I can't even look at an IKEA sign and not remember how much I did."

In other words, unless you really have 140 minutes to dedicate to what equates to a bad trip (metaphorically and literally) and watch a group of people you mostly won't care about have an experience that isn't that entertaining as much as it is abnormal, astoundingly aberrant and at times downright asinine, avoid Midsommar for all seasons to come.



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