Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
Release Date: October 8, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 8.5/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
After a family tragedy, a young American couple joins some friends at a midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village. What begins as a carefree summer holiday takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that grow increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing. From the visionary mind of Ari Aster (Hereditary), comes this dread-soaked cinematic fairy tale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.
‘Midsommar’ accompanies Dani (Pugh) who after a devastating family tragedy travels with her boyfriend and his closest friends on a cross-country summer trip to Sweden in order to experience what is promised by their friend born in the local village serving as their destination to be a unique and breathtaking set of festivities celebrating their time-honored culture and traditions. But as the curious activities and events of the villagers prove increasingly more questionable and even terrifying, Dani and her friends find themselves unable to escape the bright, sunlit dread and horrendous events around them, while still tempted by curiosity; all the while uncertain of just what precisely they’ve willingly joined into.
Written and directed by Ari Aster (Hereditary) who does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Midsommar’ which marks his second feature length outing, guiding along the tension and beauty with a careful and unnerving style. The film also owes plenty of credit to the talented folks who comprise the cast which includes Florence Pugh (Fighting With My Family), Jack Reynor (On the Basis of Sex), William Jackson Harper (TV’s The Good Place), Vilhelm Blomgren (TV’s Gösta), Will Poulter (We’re The Millers), Ellora Torchia (TV’s The Split), Archie Madekwe (Teen Spirit) and more, with nearly all offering solid and passionate performances in each of their respective roles, particularly Pugh who continues to prove an incredibly talented actress whose career should be well worth keeping an eye on.
‘Midsommar’ is a peculiar, beautiful and often uncomfortable adult fairy tale of sorts, enchanting and curious yet with a terrifying sense of utter horror always looming somewhere under the surface. Utilizing a slow burn pace that’s perfectly arranged to leave things building in a calm and oddly happy manner with a few sudden jolts to keep you off kilter, while an unnerving sense of something horrendous to come lingers, leaving the viewer continually feeling like something is terribly wrong in the worst possible way, even as the onscreen smiles and brightly lit celebration drastically conflict with that sense of apprehension. The film is further complimented by the passionate guidance of writer/director Ari Aster who delivers a rather impressive sophomore film that also benefits a great deal from the highly capable cast led by the talented Florence Pugh who is nothing short of spectacular in the lead. While this one probably won’t be for everyone, I would strongly encourage those who don’t have a weak stomach and appreciate a unique piece of filmmaking loaded with originality to make a point of checking out ‘Midsommar’, and fans of last year’s equally impressive ‘Hereditary’ should be just as blown away by filmmaker Ari Aster’s noteworthy sophomore effort. It’s a clever and incredibly unique piece of brightly lit unease and dread that is well worth giving a shot, and odds are you’ll be thrilled that you did.
Overall, ‘Midsommar’ is a calmly composed and beautifully crafted film that’s at times as unnerving and terrifying as it is stunning and strangely welcoming. It’s certainly a notable sophomore effort from filmmaker Ari Aster that’s drastically unlike your average horror film and likely to get under your skin to some degree. ‘Midsommar’ is highly recommended for fans of Aster’s previous film ‘Hereditary’ and for any genre fans and people who appreciate something unique and fairly abnormal in cinema that are all sure to find a lot about ‘Midsommar’ to appreciate. It’s an original and intricately crafted piece of cinema that may slightly drag on occasion but is certainly something quite special that should be well worth a few hours of your time and the price of a rental at the very least.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Midsommar’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.00:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and provides a sharp, clean and richly detailed presentation throughout that perfectly represents the film’s brightly lit unease and gorgeous surroundings, while suffering no noticeable faults or problems along the way. It holds up smoothly even during the few darkly lit and fast moving sequences, never allowing anything onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation that should more than please fans of the film and first time viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack nicely compliments the onscreen tension and eerie tone, offering a crisp, clean and at times quite aggressive audio presentation throughout. It regularly takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send nature elements, music and bits of dialogue along with more throughout the various speakers whenever appropriate, and never conflicting with any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that sounds great and more than delivers throughout.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Midsommar’ doesn’t feature much in the way of extras, although it does include one Behind the Scenes Featurette, ‘Let The Festivities Begin: Manifesting Midsommar’ (running approximately 25 minutes in length) which includes interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus some behind the scenes footage and more. An amusing ‘Bear in a Cage Promo’ (running approximately 1 minute) is also included.