Midsommar Will be the Best Film This Year
Written by Caelan Doyle
Let me start this review of Midsommar, the second full-length film by the massively talented director Ari Aster, but by explaining the story and the details, because just a review will not do the film justice. Midsommar is a thriller like no other, except maybe Aster’s first release, Hereditary, which showed us what thrillers could be: art. Aster hit his stride in Midsommar, making me feel many unknown feelings and sticking with me for weeks, just waiting to see it again. Ok, let's get into the movie.
The beginning of this movie is dark and bleak. We start with two people who appear to be sleeping, then a view of a snowy landscape as the title credits start to roll over the falling snow. Now we meet our first character, Dani (played by Florence Pugh), who is talking to her sister over email. Her sister is being ominous, which worries Dani, so she calls her boyfriend Christian. He tells her it's going to be ok, and reminds her of her sister’s struggle with mental illness. After he hangs up, he sits with his friends at a pizza joint, discussing the fact that Christian has been thinking of breaking up with Dani, as his friends air their dislike of her. Christian and his friends (Josh, Pelle, and Mark) are talking about their upcoming trip to Sweden to see the Midsommar festival, which Pelle’s family participates in.
Now here's everything gets real.
Christian receives another call from Dani. This time, we only hear sobbing coming from the other end, as we find out that Dani’s sister has killed herself along with Dani’s parents. We get a beautiful (but depressing) shot of hoses connected to running cars, as the camera slowly follows the hoses to first Dani’s parents room. They are dead. The camera continues following the hoses to her sister, who is laying against her desk with the hose duct taped to her mouth with her computer on with Dani and her messages open. She is also dead.
Christian feels bad, so Dani, to the lads dismay, is now coming along. Once in Sweden, Pelle meets some friends who are also there to attend the festival.
After all, it only happens once every 90 years.
They all meet in a picturesque field and take shrooms which leads to Dani freaking out and going into the bathroom. It is dimly lit and she sees a glimpse of her dead sister in the mirror. After coming down, they arrive to the festival. They see a beautiful archway leading into a small village with a few old wood buildings with one yellow pyramid in the center. Everything is normal for a couple days, as they meet fellow foreigners Connie and Simon, a couple from the UK. They only have a few hours of darkness a night, which is common in this part of Sweden. There appears to be normal traditions of eating and taking drugs in a ritualistic way but nothing too out of the ordinary. That is until we get to a tradition that sets things off the rails. That is, what happens when the locals turn 72.
A man and a woman, clearly at least 72, stand up on a cliff while everyone else stares up at them. The two cut their hands and rub them down on a rock with Norwegin runes carved into it. The woman slowly walks to the end and falls off, smashing her face onto the rock, dying instantly. For the man, he's not as lucky as he walks off, obliterating his legs but is somehow still survives. They smash his head with a hammer to finish the job. We see Connie and Simon freaking out and wanting to leave while Christian throws up.
Eventually, Christian and the lads shrug it off, as they try to respect the traditions of the locals.
One by one, members of the group start to disappear, though no one, especially the locals, seem to be too concerned about it. Mark, the comic relief, disappears after peeing on what turns out to be a sacred tree. Next is Josh, who is missing from his bed when Dani and Christian wake up one morning.
Dani and Christian get separated. Dani goes to compete in a dance competition and whoever is the last standing is crowned May Queen. She wins.
On Christian’s end, he finds out that Pelle’s sister, Maja, likes him and throughout the festival has been trying to get him to fall for her by using traditional love runes, such as feeding him her pubic hair and period blood. They then drug Christian, leading him to a occult sex orgy, the object of which is to impregnant Maja, which he succeeds. Dani finds out and breaks down, creating one of the most beautiful and haunting shots in the film.
After the orgy, Christian runs away naked in an attempt to find somewhere to hide. He instead finds Simon dead with his lungs hanging out of his back and flowers in his eyes. The locals find Christian in no time they blow a powder in is face, paralyzing him.
The next morning, Christian is sitting in front of a stage paralyzed in a wheelchair and Dani is on stage covered head to toe in flowers. She, as the May Queen, gets to choose out of Christian and a random guy to be the last out of nine to be sacrificed.
Inside the yellow pyramid, there lays horrible scarecrow versions of Josh and Mark along with two other volunteers set to be sacrificed. Dani finally chooses Christian to be sacrificed, and he, still paralyzed, is wheeled into the pyramid, wearing the skin of a bear. The pyramid is set ablaze, and Dani watches them perish, smiling softly. The movie ends.
In my eyes, this movie is absolutely perfect. There's breathtaking cinematography and a plot that never lets up on the suspense. Ari Aster masterfully brings gore in a realistic yet subtle way, . Ari Aster is at the top of his game, so I can't wait for his next release, whenever that may be. I guarantee it will be art.