To review Midsommar, I am going to need to start at the end.
When I left the cinema, I felt drunk. I was first out of the door when the credits rolled, stumbling and blinking into the light of the corridor as other patrons waiting for the next screening chatted light-heartedly with their friends, munching fistfuls of popcorn.
They don’t know, I thought. They don’t know the things I have seen.
In the toilets, someone slammed on a door suddenly and I jumped off the ground, my hand clutching my chest. I made eye contact with myself in the mirror – I am a different person now. I am changed.
I fell out of the glass doors fronting the cinema, out on to the wild streets of Hackney. My vision is blurred. A passing man shouted at me that he’s going to kill himself soon.
I have enough to worry about, Sir, I thought. I am not strong enough to carry us both in this post-Midsommar world.
At the train station, I saw a pile of rotting fruit on the ground. Flies swarmed around it. It is a sign. Midsommar is everything now. I text my boyfriend and my sister, pleading for reassurance that the world has not changed. They did not reply.
I made it home, jumping at every flash of light and clank of gate. My boyfriend asked how the film was. I can’t reply. He doesn’t understand what is wrong with me.
He will never understand.
Anyway, it’s now a week after the above and I have regained some sort of normality in my life. Here’s a less dramatic (less accurate) review.
After watching Midsommar, I saw a tweet that said something along the lines of ‘Ari Aster gets that horror films aren’t supposed to be scary, they’re supposed to be horrifying‘ – and if you can’t he arsed to read any more of this mad essay, that pretty much sums up everything you need to know.
So. This is a film about Dani, a college student who in the midst of huge family grief tags along with her boyfriend to a ‘Midsommar’ celebration in Sweden.
When I saw the 2.5 hour running time, I rolled my eyes until they popped out of my skull and then immediately bought a few cans of G&T and a bag of Haribo, because I was concerned I would collapse from a sugar low/sobriety in such a bloody long time.
Reader, I did not drink the cans, I did not eat the Tangfastics. Who could eat and drink during this film!!!??? Do not take snacks. Take a bag to throw up in on your way home.
Despite the fact that my life is now forever changed, I actually really enjoyed it. Ari Aster’s direction is so, so beautiful – the use of light in almost every scene is too lovely to not notice. There’s something extra fucked up about a horror film that takes place almost entirely in the day light – and not just that – achingly bright sunshine, with set pieces full of brightness and flowers in every colour you can imagine, all piled on top of each other.
Combine that with ripping someone’s skin off and wearing it as your own, and the whole thing is going to be pretty unsettling…agreed?
The classic horror movie gore and the violence and the jump scares are all in here, but used sparingly for full effect. The things that led me from happy woman eating sweets, to woman crying from fear in the cinema toilets were so much more subtle than that, so much more frightening. I think a huge factor in it was actually the music, which ate into my brain to the point where I felt as mad as all the people in the Midsommar ‘celebrations’.
The way that Aster created the feeling of being fucked up by the drugs and whatever else they were putting in the tea was so brilliantly done, and I found I couldn’t take my eyes off the single pulsing flower in Dani’s flower crown at one point. His cinematography is something to be admired (from a safe distance where he can’t get me), with camera shots which made me feel sick as often as they made me feel well.
Florence Pugh is a more than worthy leading woman, our only glimmer of hope in a cast otherwise filled with irritating men doing irritating things. Her performance is balanced and never over the top – even when the film reaches peak-bonkers. I love her.
I was in a very quiet screening of this (am still yet to see a film at Hackney Picturehouse with more than 15 people present) and the group in front of me laughed throughout the entire film. Near the end, one of them laughed so loudly that he had to accompany this by also clapping very loudly, just to prove how amused he was by the whole thing. You’re in a public space, dickhead.
My point is: if you don’t find the set up scary, the second half of the film is so insane that it is easy to find it comical. I however, was quivering in the corner so did not find the great time he was having helpful or comforting.
It’s ruined my life, but my life wasn’t that great anyway so I’m kind of cool with it.