BY BOOMER SABATA
Director Ari Aster’s sophomore film, Midsommar, was more than a horrible dream. It was the type of fever-pitched nightmare a person suffers once in a lifetime, and never wants to experience it again. Yet, I want to see this film again, and again, and again.
Midsommar needles around the point of complete cerebral degradation but does it in a manner that film has never seen before. It is one of the most ambitiously brutal horror films since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and is wrapped in a burlap shroud of thematic ambiguity like Aster’s debut gamechanger Hereditary.
Praises aside, the film is a doozy to digest and may not be suited for a fair-weather horror fan. This film is sadistic, miserable, wrong, beautiful, uplifting, and right.
Aster himself has gone on record hoping the film will be the viewer’s “favorite breakup movie.” While a “breakup” technically occurs, Aster’s film also focuses on modern society’s often fickle psychological exchanges.
Dani and Christian, the main couple of the film, are visibly on the verge of splitting. However, most of the couple’s disagreements are not expressed with shouted, venom-filled dialogue, but rather passive-aggressive stares and bouts of tense, awkward silence. The modern world is filled with denial and avoidance and grows worse with our inability to communicate.
Harga, the midsummer festival in Sweden and the subject of the film, is almost a social utopia; every relationship is rooted in care for one another and honesty is significant. At the same time, the villagers in remote Halsingland have harmoniously lived in the wonders of nature for centuries. It is a place of intense tradition to an older world and yet functions more efficiently than our world. The closer we live to the rhythm of nature, the less separated we become as human beings.
Still, this village was messed up.
The images in this film are almost at Cannibal Holocaust levels of controversy. The drawn-out shots of disturbing violence are both riveting and sickening, and to say this film is very “sex-positive” is an understatement.
Still, the thought of looking away from the screen during these sequences is almost blasphemous, given the beauty and technical wizardry of the shots throughout. This is parallel to the major theme of nature. The processes of life (love, birth, death) are at times gross proceedings. Yet, it is these miracles of life that are considered the most beautiful. Midsommar perfectly presented the horrid and stunning dualities of life and how it can compare to a damaged human mind.
There are many other ideas present in Ari Aster’s Midsommar. The film subtly nods to the discussions of mental health treatment, assisted suicide, psychedelic drugs, and ritualistic religions. All of which are cloaked in a stunningly vibrant garb of blood and flowers. This film is one of the most horrifically demented in history, and you will find it difficult to even blink away from it.
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