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Died Rock: A Review Of 'Midsommar'

From the director of ‘Hereditary,’ ‘Midsommar’ is the folk horror film of the summer

If The Lion King has its Pride Rock, where the animals flock together to pay homage to their king; Ari Aster’s latest, Midsommar has what I’ve dubbed “Died Rock.” And when it makes its appearance halfway into this film, it provides the first true jump scare, putting any doubt we may have had on how weird and disturbing this new film from the director who gave us Hereditary in 2018, is going to be. Not for the squeamish or of delicate nature, Midsommar is more an exercise on how far we can go, keeping our eyes glued to the screen, as stranger and more visceral going-ons pop up.


For those who loved Hereditary and Toni Colette’s acting, you’ll recall how it was old school horror, dressed up to look fresh and feel new. It was character study and relationships between the protagonists, over and above the jump scares. Midsommar retains that formula for Aster’s filmmaking method …and madness. And Florence Pugh as Dani, the girl with a more than checkered history, is brilliant in giving us a POV that’s flawed normalcy. The first 30 minutes of the film establishes her back story, and it’s one that’s troubling and tragic, and yet stretches our sympathy to breaking point. She is victim, yet overly needy; and you’ll be fascinated by the arc of her character as the film progresses.


At the core of the film is a group of friends who reside in New York heading to Stockholm on the invitation of one in the group who comes from a reclusive community living in rural Sweden that’s about to celebrate their summer solstice. As social anthropologists working on their dissertations, these friends, led by Christian (Jack Reynor), who has Dani as his girlfriend, see the trip as an opportunity to study a cultish community, like the Amish or early-day Mormons.


Held every 90 years, this midsummer folk/pagan ceremony, which lasts for 9 days, soon becomes a bedrock of horrors and outright disturbing behavior. In terms of film history, Midsommar salutes such films as The Wicker Man; but pins the horror on how seemingly ordinary everything is—that the extremes in behavior are all complied to voluntarily, and are part of their socio-cultural heritage. Think of ancient civilizations like the Aztecs or Incas, where stuff like human sacrifice and procreation to perpetuate the community, were accepted rituals, and fertility rites or customs.

An auteur director who wrote the screenplay for this film, there’s a very vicious sense of humor at play throughout the film. You’ll love Aster’s touches; like how he segues entering a bathroom in a Manhattan apartment to a toilet on a Sweden-bound airplane. Or how he’ll break the solemn singing of a hymn-like folk song with the ringing of a mobile phone



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