A slow, diurnal dread is just as unnerving as it is riveting in the new horror feature from Ari Aster who surprised many last year with his jolting, harrowing Hereditary.
His not so narratively marvelous and Midsommar isn’t a sequel or a rejiggering of an earlier success though some iconography from the aforementioned Toni Collette starrer may be familiar. An ambiguity appears to permeate Aster’s plotting which is predicated on the explicit as well as folklore. A certain circle of fear may well have a waking nightmarish effect on those unable to shake off recurring foreboding forecasts.
It would seem that college chums traveling through Sweden to a home commune (community) during a mid-summer festival happening once every ninety years is just another excursion even with a fraught Dani (Florence Pugh of Fighting With My Family, Lady Macbeth) delivering much emotion in the opening reel hesitantly in tow. Her beau Christian (Jack Reynor of Sing Street) really hasn’t been there for her and has been looking to move on from her. More so, his fellow blokes Josh and Mark (William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter) have wanted it to happen for a while.
The tantalizing invitation is at the behest of fellow local bro Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), but once at the secluded colony the visitors are in for what can truly be more than a petrifying experience (as the camera does a flip to what can be at least as weird as ingesting psychedelic mushrooms) in using tragedy to springboard into an occult havoc that bares more than what one might care to witness. A twisting departure could very well be preset in an ambitiously unhurried cinematic swing that may not be as empathetic as interpretative as well as lacking an intriguing burrowing of trenchant suppositions.
Still, the conflict in Midsommar is hardly sabotaged with an able Aster generating an intensity, often of the iniquitous variety that supersedes his ability this time to creatively let his material flow with resonance into inexorable calamity. Even with a radical shift and a late cogent affirmation lurking near the maypole. Those suggesting Pugh may be the next Kate Winslet may not be far off given her processing of Dani through despair and subjugation, truly the compelling emotional fulcrum. And, for the many reactions that may surface from Aster’s sophomore outing you can look to instances of shameless senselessness and a contemptible Christian for more sustained wit than expected. In this uncanny train wreck of trepidation from illumination.