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Monday, August 5, 2019


Midsommar is a fantastically unnerving folk-horror reverie, brilliantly conceived by writer-director Ari Aster who made last year’s horror hit, Hereditary. (Review by Patrick Compton - 9/10)

Whatever you think of this extraordinary movie, you will surely accept that you haven’t seen anything quite like it before.

Set in Sweden in mid-summer, when the sun is ever-present, this is about a bunch of American students – some of them budding anthropologists – who visit an ancient commune where they hope to fill their boots with original material for their research.

The main character is the traumatised Dani (Florence Pugh of Lady Macbeth fame) who is barely hanging on to her passive-aggressive boyfriend Christian (Jack Raynor) who has held back from ditching her because of her recent family tragedy.

The movie is largely concerned with what happens to the young Americans when they get to the commune. Nothing I write will quite explain the sense of alienation and shock that the youngsters feel as they begin to experience what happens to them as the commune’s members celebrate a festival that takes place every 90 years.

Initially, the beatific residents, with their Maypoles, muslin gowns and flower crowns, seem like a copy of a 1960s hippy commune, but this impression is swiftly dispelled as Woodstock flower-power turns to Charles Manson madness.

Or does it? This is not a horror film in the clichéd sense, but rather the almost stately unravelling of a waking nightmare in the harsh glare of the Swedish sun.

One of the movie’s extraordinary gifts is that, amidst the horror, there is also a sardonic humour and a sense that, after all, the commune has a way of living that makes as much or more sense than the industrial West’s way of doing things.

This is a film that refuses to tick boxes or offer itself up for easy analysis; each viewer will come away with his or her own interpretation.

Writer-director Aster is a huge talent, a kind of visionary, and Midsommar has all the characteristics of a great film that makes you question the way you live in a society whose norms are instinctively accepted but not analysed.

Love it or hate it, you will live with Midsommar’s seductive and disturbing images in your skull for a long time to come, not least the final shot, in which a key character’s face changes from that of a rictus of anguish to a beam of pure joy.

Midsommar is showing at Gateway. - Patrick Compton