(US/Sweden - 2019)
Written and directed by Ari Aster. Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Isabelle Grill, Hampus Hallberg, Gunnel Fred, Liv Mjones, Lennart R. Svensson, Anders Beckman, Anders Back, Levente Puczko-Smith. (R, 147 mins)
With last year's shattering HEREDITARY, writer/director Ari Aster immediately established himself as one of the top figures in so-called "elevated horror," a term given to the thinking person's horror films that earn significant mainstream praise, much to the consternation of the genre's fanboys, gatekeepers, and assorted too-cool-for-school edgelords who usually wait 8-12 months to watch said films so they can flippantly dismiss them long after the hype has died down. Aside from Toni Collette turning in one of the best performances in any movie in recent memory, HEREDITARY has quite a bit going on and is the kind of film where each subsequent rewatch has you noticing things you didn't catch before. It was a film about the supernatural, family, dysfunction, legacies passed down, and unimaginable grief. MIDSOMMAR, Aster's follow-up effort, is a different beast than HEREDITARY in many ways, but it's cut from the same cloth and in it, you see patterns and obsessions beginning to develop. Again, we have the element of the supernatural. Again, the main character struggles to cope with an indescribable family tragedy. And again, there's a mysterious group of people who have plans for that character and those around her, but this time, it's even more strangely sinister in the way it's used almost as running interference in service of a much grander design. After a genuinely shocking 12-minute pre-credits sequence, MIDSOMMAR is strangely lacking in overt scares, instead opting for a very methodical slow burn that's relentlessly unsettling, with a suffocating sense of dread, tension, and doom that finally explodes into all-out madness in the last half hour.
DETROIT), Josh (William Jackson Harper), and Swedish Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren)--have been looking forward to a long-planned summer trip to Sweden organized by Pelle, but as it draws closer after Dani's grieving and depressed state goes through winter and spring, Christian has yet to mention the trip to her until she hears the guys talking about it being two weeks away. Ignoring their advice to dump Dani, who they found clingy and needy even before the tragedy that sent her off the deep end ("Get rid of her and find someone who actually likes sex," Mark crassly advises), Christian instead invites her along on the trip, where they'll be heading to a remote, rural area of northern Sweden to visit "Harga," the commune where orphaned Pelle grew up after losing his parents in a fire, to observe their unique solstice celebration that occurs once every 90 years.