Midsommar (2019) – Dir Ari Aster

Special Guest review from the Cult Corner:

I initially thought that Midsommer would be a millennial remake of the Wicker Man. Whilst it shares some common DNA with the 1973 classic, the overall theme is one of relationships, family and trust rather than the Pagan v Christianity core of the Wicker Man.

Visually it looks fantastic, with a dreamlike quality to the cinematography coming to the fore as soon as we land in Sweden. There is a nice sense of growing foreboding as our protagonists slowly come to realise that the idealistic (and worryingly isolated) village is not all it seems. Some scenes are truly brutal and shocking as they come out of nowhere, but there are no jump scares that usually litter horror films. The film takes its time before the final dénouement, and is all the better for it, allowing character shifts in motive to feel more organic and natural.

The acting is strong throughout with Florence Pugh excelling as the traumatised young woman whose foundering long-term relationship is put under further strain as the village rituals and a feeling of belonging increase the distance between her and her rather dim boyfriend (Jack Reynor). Will Poulter also deserves a mention, bringing welcome humour to the increasingly claustrophobic atmosphere.

That’s not to say that the film isn’t without its faults. The reaction of most people upon the sight of a giant maypole, forbidden barn and a caged bear would be to run for the hills, and some scenes stray beyond disquieting into unintentional humour (I’m looking at you sex-scene, though I’d rather not). The issue of mobile phones is addressed by the usual ‘no signal’ solution; one day I hope to see something more imaginative.

However, none of this should detract from the fact that Midsommer is an excellent addition to the folk-horror genre, and stays in the mind long after viewing. I’d advise listening to ‘The Scarecrow’ by Mike and Lal Waterson straight after (probably the most disturbing folk song ever) as the perfect companion piece.

And My Ratings:

Rating: 8/10 – visually stunning, great growing dread offset by tension releasing humour. A future classic.

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