Hot off the heels of last year’s Hereditary, Ari Aster has delivered another divisive film to moviegoers across the nation. Aster’s newest entry into the horror genre is Midsommar, a film that fails to live up to the expectations that Hereditary had previously established.
Save Your Summer—Skip Midsommar
With a budget of less than $10 million, Midsommar has at least managed to recoup its budget after opening weekend. The film grossed nearly $11 million over the weekend, about $3 million less than Hereditary opened to last year. Of course, Midsommar was also up against Spider-Man: Far From Home, so these earnings aren’t exactly shocking. But the problem with Midsommar isn’t in its budget or its box office earnings—it’s in the story.
*Spoiler Warning: Herein lie spoilers for Midsommar. You’ve been warned.*
Three Hours of Your Life Gone Forever
Going into Midsommar, I had high expectations. The trailers had hyped me up for this daytime psychological thriller, carefully dropping little tidbits of the plot without overwhelming us with spoilers (unlike Sony’s approach with Spider-Man… but that’s a different article). After Hereditary, I was more than ready to hand my money to Aster. You see, Hereditary scared me to death. It was a deeply disturbing film in the best ways, and led me to believe that Aster would deliver a similar experience this time around.
Unfortunately, Midsommar did just the opposite. While Midsommar is still deeply disturbing, it’s disturbing in the wrong ways. We’ll get to that later after we touch on just how boring this movie is.
And it is just that: Boring. Roughly three hours of screen time for a handful of scenes that feel truly worth the build-up. There are moments that are innately creepy, sure, but these handfuls of scenes don’t balance out the runtime and the vast amounts of emptiness between them. So much of the film, while somewhat visually appealing, just feels empty. While the first two-thirds of the movie are almost void of plot progression, the last third is almost entirely void of speech. An apt analogy would be a long road trip. To fill the time, you talk, you listen to music, you pull over and look at things. If you did none of these things, time stretches out. Five minutes feels like an hour. That’s what Midsommar felt like.
Maybe that was Aster’s point. Maybe he wanted the audience to suffer through a drought of content, anxious for what’s next. The problem is that what came next was just not worth the time we spent waiting.
Ari’s Got a Schtick
One of the most disturbing parts of Hereditary was the cult of naked people wandering around the house at different points of the film. To an extent, I got it, and now naked old people scare me.
Aster repeats this trend in Midsommar. I don’t know what it is, but he’s got a thing for groups of naked people. Unfortunately, this time, it doesn’t come off as disturbing as the nude appearances in Hereditary. It’s just awkward. Between an old naked woman pushing the buttocks of Christian (Jack Reynor) while he’s having sex with one of the cult girls and the half-naked man wearing Mark’s (Will Poulter) skinned face, the nudity just took away from the seriousness of the film.
Another of Aster’s schticks seems to be dollhouse landscapes. Hereditary ended with a slow pan out of the family’s treehouse, which was filled with corpses arranged in beautiful, doll-like fashion. Lo and behold, one of the final scenes in Midsommar is a slow pan out of a shack that is filled with neatly adorned corpses.
While his obsession with symbols isn’t exactly a “schtick”, we see the same trend appear in Midsommar. In Hereditary, the pole that decapitated the young girl had a symbol carved into it. The mother’s necklace was that same symbol. In Midsommar, a similar symbol occurs throughout the film.
For people that have seen Hereditary, Midsommar almost feels like a daytime redux—except with more drugs, less exposition and a much slower pace. Throughout the film, I kept bouncing between two thoughts: First, I’ve seen this before. Second, is this ever going to end?
Midsommar: A Midsummer’s Night Wasted
Take it from me: This film isn’t what you’re expecting. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a visually appealing film—or at least a pretty one if you can get past the seemingly pointless gore for gore’s sake and the awkward, unnecessary nudity. This just isn’t a fulfilling follow-up to Hereditary, which, upon further consideration, may have set the bar too high.
I appreciate mysticism and symbolism as much as anyone, if not more so than the typical moviegoer, but this snoozefest just took the wind out of my sails. Save your money for another weekend, or go see Avengers: Endgame for the umpteenth time.
Trust me, you’re better off.
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