Midsommar (2019): Confusing art

Midsommar (2019) takes place in rural Scandinavia during a swedish midsummer festival. A young couple and their friends soon find out that they are amidst the company of a pagan cult. Strange events unfold, along with the deterioration of Dani’s mental health in this “horror” movie directed by Ari Aster. 

It is clear to see that most people either love or hate Midsommar, however I am not on either side and do not know exactly where I sit with it other than I do not love it and I do not hate it. Midsommar tackles and explores the effects of mental trauma on an individual through this slow burning, haunting, and strange story. Within the beginning we become aware that Dani’s sister accidentally killed her own parents whilst killing herself, this is where we see Dani’s insanity seriously begin through her spiral into depression, insomnia, and severe trauma. Not only are we presented with the loss of her family, but she also seems to be in a rather toxic and emotionally abusive relationship where she is essentially unloved and unwanted by her boyfriend. Later Dani, her boyfriend, and his friends all go to this swedish midsummer festival through the recommendation of one of their swedish friends. Once at the festival, their time there becomes filled with drugs, strangeness, and the unknown as peculiar events unfold. 

One of the first things I noticed about Midsommar is the stunning cinematography and the use of beautiful colours which contrast the genre of the film (horror). This worked in the favour of appreciating the masterful directing, however simply worked against making it seem creepy. I’m sure for some it would have made the film seem more scary being confronted with gore whilst surrounded by a group of hippie-pagan cultists, but not for me. The plot seemed weak because at first I thought the movie was essentially a character study of Dani and her trauma and mental health but then it drove away from that and I was confused as to what exactly was going on. The weakness of the plot is ultimately the main downfall of the film. Florence Pugh as Dani was phenomenal. I could really empathise with her pain through the sheer quality of emotions she evoked through her facial expressions. It was very clear she was suffering, and that the festival was making her go insane. That leads me to another praise, Ari Aster did a fantastic job at making everything feel constantly claustrophobic, even though Midsommar is set in a beautiful outdoors area. As such, the ability to evoke a small and claustrophobic feeling in contrast to the actual set demonstrates Ari Asters ability as a director to paint a scene to evoke certain emotions. Not only did it contrast the set, but it paralleled Dani’s mind. Everything felt like it was caving in, which essentially is what is happening to Dani, she is slowly losing her mind. 

Nevertheless, apart from Dani I found it hard to like or enjoy any of the other characters, I also found certain moments to drag and, well, make me bored. It also failed at being a horror movie too, in fact I struggle to pinpoint it to any genre as the themes felt messy and incoherent. Overall, it is not a bad movie, it is clearly an amazing film from a cinematography perspective, and Florence Pugh’s acting was captivating, however the plot was poor and the other characters were completely uninteresting. 

Are you not distrubed by what we just saw? – Dani

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