Midsommar is the kind of movie you have to physically shake off of yourself. It’s a horror movie, but not the kind of nightmare that wakes you up; rather, this is the nightmare you sleep all the way through and wake the next morning believing was real. The ending here gradually descends onto us and at the same time arrives so suddenly, despite the film’s 147-minute runtime that’d suggest we’d already be actively searching for it by then. After it, I left the room to pace in another, shaking my head and hands until I felt like I’d gotten it off of me. As a whole, the film is a kind of slow boil, infiltrating your psyche without your permission — kind of like what’s happening on screen.
Dani, played by Florence Pugh, has recently suffered an unspeakable tragedy and decides to accompany her boyfriend on a trip with friends to a rare summer festival in a small commune in Sweden, her relationship obviously teetering. The weather is always perfect and the people in the commune are so welcoming, but what seems so perfect becomes indescribably bizarre and surprisingly violent at every turn. It’s just unlike much else I’ve seen and, therefore, I don’t quite have the words to eloquently describe it. The strange horror of it is what I’ll remember. It’s like Get Out in that way, but a key difference between Jordan Peele’s statement-making story and Ari Aster’s is that Chris, in Get Out, knows he’s trapped; Dani, and the people she came with, don’t. That level of awareness changes the direction each movie goes in during their second halves.
Pugh is quite effective, often without having to speak. Those who follow her know she’s a skilled facial expressionist (if that’s a thing), and she shows it here. She can say a lot with a look, which, of course, is how Aster decides to end the movie. With everything that’s happened, everything she’s seen, what she’s been through, how heavily sedated Dani is in that moment, there’s so much going on in her head and nothing getting out of it. It’s, frankly, fucked. She doesn’t have to tell us. We see it.
Midsommar: ★★ 1/2