The Following Midsommar movie review was written by dark fiction author, A.R. Braun, to be released on the Ritual Blog for Mind on Fire Books.
I put off watching this film because it seemed artsy-fartsy. Don’t make that mistake. Ari Aster’s second horror movie after Hereditary WILL freak you out. If you’ve seen Hereditary, then you know the kind of scares to expect.
Dani (Florence Pugh), a psychiatry major, mourns—traumatized—after her mentally ill sister kills herself AND her parents with carbon monoxide.
Her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor)—a cultural anthropology student—holds her tight and helps her grieve, but also wants to dump her because she’s never in the mood. This is an attitude that’s written in stone by his buddies, Mark (Will Poulter) and Josh (William Jackson Harper), who simply don’t like her, except for . . .
. . . Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), their Swedish friend, who, it turns out, has invited the boys to Midsommar, a celebration at Pelle’s ancestral commune, the Hårga, in Sweden. The celebration occurs only once every 90 years, and anthropology student Josh desires to write this thesis on it. Dani inadvertently invites herself to Midsommar, then is more than touched when Pelle expresses his sincere condolences about what happened to her family, making her run to the bathroom to weep. In fact, Pelle wins her over, telling her, if it wasn’t for his non-biological new family in Sweden, he wouldn’t know what he’d do (not verbatim).
But the foursome couldn’t fathom what they’re in for.
The group takes a plane to Sweden and drives, then walks to the commune, where they meet Simon and Connie (Archie Madekwe and Ellora Torchia), a British couple from London who were invited by Pelle’s communal brother, Ingemar. Simon offers the group ‘shrooms, and Dani has hallucinations of Terri, her sister, while under the drug’s influence. Mark, however, freaks out, unable to take the trip, telling the others to lay down like him.
Enter what Algernon Blackwood would’ve called a “series of shocks,” or “grotesqueries.”
At the twisted tradition of ättestupa the group learns that the cult kills themselves at seventy-two years of age. This scene is brutality realized.
Things amp-up from there, where a redhead sets her sights on Dani’s boyfriend, and puts—gulp—her pubes in his meal. If you like the band, HammerFall, you’ll love what happens to Josh when he sneaks into the holiest of holies to snap a picture of their sacred book, after being forbidden to do so.
The human sacrifices have begun . . . of the Americans . . . and Pelle tells Dani his family is her family (not verbatim). When Dani catches her boyfriend screwing the redhead, she falls apart . . . but the Swedish females fall apart WITH her. (See, her new fam-il-y.)
By the end, she’ll warm-up to it, in a hideous way.
This film and Hereditary are at the top of my Blu-ray rack, and with good reason. Ari Aster is one of the few American writer/directors making genuinely shocking horror movies right now. Don’t miss either of them! And if you do, it’s your own fault.