Ari Aster made a name for himself with the spectacularly twisted Hereditary last year. It was the first film in years to get right under my skin and as he returns with Midsommar, I'm not sure I was fully prepared for whatever he had in store.

After a tragic turn of events, Dani (Florence Pugh) joins her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), and his friends on a trip to Sweden to visit a rural hometown's fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic haven slowly turns into a living hell of ultra violence and absurdity at the hands of a pagan cult.
There's an impending sense of doom that hangs over Midsommar right from its opening frame to its very last, Ari Aster weaving a quite a fucked up fairytale of fear right in front of our very eyes. It's a slow burner for sure but it does manage to hold the attention of the audience thanks to some rather gorgeous cinematography and production design, some of the shots in this reminding me of Hereditary every now and then.

Rather disappointingly, I don't think the film totally works as a horror, and for that reason I can't say I love the film. I fully appreciate the craft that has gone into it all but I felt nothing much towards the horror elements throughout. It was supposed to be unsettling yet none of the absurdity of the pagan rituals or the imagery throughout got under my skin. Aster managed it with Hereditary but not this time around, though he has tried to make a very different film so I respect that.

This is a much funnier film than his previous effort, plenty of comedic moments littered amongst the pagan brutality. It could have been quite jarring but really you have to welcome it with the long runtime Midsommar possesses, otherwise it could have ended up a bit of a drag.

At the forefront of Midsommar is an intensely powerful performance from Florence Pugh, who has gone on to become one of the names to look out for in Hollywood. Right from the very off she draws you in and it's near impossible to take your eyes away from her when she's on screen, even when she wasn't I couldn't wait for her next scene. There's support from Jack Reynor, who does a great confused Chris Pratt impression, and Will Poulter, who I felt was a little wasted after a promising start to his douchebag best friend routine.

Speaking of promising starts, Ari Aster had me in the palm of his hands for the first act of Midsommar but then lost me a little when they get to their destination. Shame really because I thought I'd be walking out scared of daylight but it just wasn't to be in the end. 

Verdict: ★★★½


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