I hope everyone is prepared for a good old-fashioned rant because the juices are flowing and we are rolling downhill. I just got out of the theater where I viewed “Midsommar”, a film that was marketed beautifully. I was convinced that this would be some mind-melting, artistic, philosophical horror spectacular. Even the great Jordan Peele, director and writer of modern horror classics “Get Out” and “Us”, hailed it as one of the best horror films he has ever seen. Needless to say, I was situated comfortably aboard this film’s hype train. Yet, here I am, violently thrashing against my keyboard, spewing the excrement that seeps from my brain into your eyeholes. There is a fire burning within me so strong that it could only be forged in the nuclear furnaces of betrayal. Why has it come to this? What could possibly compel me to feel things? Why?
This film is BORING! There, I said it. No amount of “well it got good reviews” tomfoolery will ever convince me otherwise. The runtime of this film is 2 hours and 21 minutes but I swear I entered the theater 3 weeks ago. In all my years of watching films, I doubt I have ever encountered a film that consistently stays at a pace this slow and still has the testicular fortitude to market itself as a suspenseful horror film. Sometimes a film will be so ambitious that it throws everything at you at once, and you could easily be overwhelmed. This is the polar opposite of that experience. This film is so ambitious that it doesn’t do anything ever and the horror and suspense elements that they advertise are derived solely from audiences’ expectations that something will happen eventually.
Do you want to know what the film is about? Of course, you do, you sheep. The film is about drugs, sustained awkward silences, and brightly lit, perfectly symmetrical landscape shots. It looks really good, and if there is any positive to be drawn here is that its cinematography is top-notch. But other than how it looks, they really only talk about the most loveless relationship ever portrayed in film, the occasional drug use, and just how odd Sweden is. I was expecting a deeper concept to be explored or even touched on in some capacity, but alas, it seems I asked for too much.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying the Swedish cult isn’t weird, unsettling, or even sinister, because that would be a lie. Aesthetically, they check off every single box. But aside from maybe 2-3 instances, most of their horror is present only because we are given zero exposition of the rituals we are witnessing, and an outlandish culture is just alien to us. They do cross a line, which is promised in the trailers, so don’t think I am saying they are all smoke and mirrors, but the threatening aspect of their festivals is really only explored at the very end, despite the ominous tone trying to convince you that it is happening throughout the film. Even the “Cliff scene”, which is the first act of horror in the film and takes place a cool hour or so into the runtime, is still explained as a willing cultural tradition and viewed as just a barbaric way of celebrating life. Even most of the main characters seem to shake it off as just a weird way of doing things, sickening though it may be.
That brings me to my next point: all the characters suck. Christian (Jack Reynor) is the epitome of unlikable. He steals his friend’s thesis and tries to blame the theft of a cultural artifact on him. He also seemingly hates Dani (Florence Pugh), his girlfriend of 4 years, but keeps stringing her along. He even forgets her birthday. Dani’s lone trait is that she is sad a lot and knows that everybody else knows she is sad. Her family dies in the first few minutes in possibly the single most inconsequential deaths in cinema history. The purpose of that moment is just to send her to Sweden with the group of guys that seemingly hate her. Yeah, she is still sad throughout because of it, but it never contributes to any action she undertakes and is treated as more of a fun-fact about her life. The only character I found remotely entertaining was the eyebrows kid from “We are the Millers” (Will Poulter). He has one descriptive feature and that is he has a penis and will use it. That is right! He is horny and pees on a tree. Utterly brilliant.
“Midsommar” just feels pretentious. It masquerades about as this deeply intelligent thriller, relying on its bombastic visuals to create a compelling narrative with stakes, and in doing so, totally forgets to tell a worthy story. With a total lack of compelling characters or exposition, everything is dependent on just how creeped out we feel by observing a foreign culture, which would work so much better if (A) they did threatening acts more frequently, (B) the boring relationship dynamics are totally ignored, and (C) the victims are even remotely sympathetic or relatable.
I am truly baffled by the positive response to the film at this point, but I hope that some of you actually end up liking it and can share with me why you feel that way. I will warn any casual viewer of movies that you will absolutely be bored watching this movie. Some of you may appreciate the technical achievements that are certainly noteworthy, but I highly doubt people will actually be entertained throughout the film.
I give “Midsommar” a disappointing 4.5 out of 10
Directed by: Ari Aster
Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomberg, Will Poulter, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe
Runtime: 2 Hours and 27 Minutes