"Thank Goodness This Place Was Not in My Sweden Tourist Guide"
MIDSOMMAR is a disturbing horror movie about a group of college age millennials traveling to Sweden to spend 10 days at an isolated backwoods commune. In the group, there is a young lady who just lost her family to a horrible triple suicide. Along with her are her reluctant boyfriend, a couple of college buddies, and their Swedish exchange student classmate who has relatives in the commune and will serve as the chaperone. He’s invited them all to come out and have a unique experience that will expand their knowledge of anthropology and prepare them for their upcoming thesis. Unknown to them, however, and just underneath the alluring hippie-like atmosphere flow some very sinister undercurrents, and before it is all said and done, the plot takes some very bizarre turns filled with deception, perversion and gore. Also peppered with numerous obscenities, profanities and a gratuitous over the top sex scene, MIDSOMMAR is the type of movie that media-wise readers will choose to skip.
Dani (Florence Pugh) is a fragile young lady who for some time has been concerned about her sister’s erratic behavior. Now, her sister and both their parents are found dead by carbon monoxide poisoning in an apparent mass suicide. Meanwhile, Dani’s longtime, but reluctant boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), has been offered to join his buddies on this trip to Sweden. The group had not intended to invite Dani to come with them. Yet, in the face of everything that happened to Dani, Christian asks Dani to come along, not really expecting that she will accept. However, Dani surprisingly decides the change of venue may be good for her, even though she’s still having a hard time managing her personal life.
Upon their arrival at the commune, they encounter a very pleasant, seemingly loose community that welcomes them with open arms and vows to provide anything they need. Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), the Swedish exchange student, who has relatives in the community and who set up the visit in the first place, introduces them to other community members who offer everyone some psychedelic mushrooms. At first Dani and Christian hesitate, but eventually cave under the peer pressure, and they all partake in the group high, ushering perhaps a harbinger of things to come. Pelle is also romantically interested in Dani, and at one point tells her that he sympathizes with her because his parents were killed in a fire. However, Dani is still in love with Christian and wishes they would just leave and go home. The group is shown their sleeping quarters and told that the commune’s festival will be getting under way the next day.
Later in the day, they have dinner in communal long dinner tables, and young maidens dance all around them. At one point, Maja (Isabelle Grill), one of the young dancers, taps Christian with her foot as she goes by him. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Dani, but she doesn’t make much of it and lets it pass.
The next day the festivities begin, and a solemn ceremony gets under way where an older couple comes to sit at the head of the communal table. After they make a speech, engage in some bizarre rituals, and the community joins them in a toast, they leave the table and climb to a tall rocky structure towering over everyone’s head. What happens next is the beginning of one bizarre event after another as the circumstances change from their pleasant stay to increasingly strange and precarious situations.
Later, and to make sure Christian gets the message somehow, one of Maja’s pubic hairs appears in Christian’s pastry. Then, Maja makes her move, and signals Christian to follow her. Dani, however, is invited to participate in an elaborate dance ritual to elect the queen of the festival, and, at that point, it becomes apparent that the other members of the group are suspiciously missing. From this point, many of the scenes that follow may shock a lot of viewers into wondering how they could ever have chosen to see this movie in the first place.
Ari Aster is MIDSOMMAR’s writer/director. His first movie was HEREDITARY, a horror movie about a grieving family haunted by tragic, disturbing occurrences. The horror genre in fiction is not necessarily anathema to Christian values. Regrettably, though, MIDSOMMAR is highly derivative Neil LaBute’s 2006 Nicolas Cage vehicle THE WICKER MAN, which resorted to less blood, sex, foul language, and gore, and had a more mysterious labyrinthine plot.
That said, MIDSOMMAR does have some very good performances and strong editing. Florence Pugh, as the heroine, and perhaps the only person in the whole movie with a noble spirit, is excellent. Jack Reynor, as the reluctant Christian with many flaws, but who keeps trying to do the right thing, is also strong because he holds back to satisfy the requirements of his character, and it works. William Jackson Parker as Josh, the only African American, and Vilhelm Blomgren as Pelle, the sensitive exchange student fulfilling his duty to bring these visitors to the commune, do a good job. Will Poulter as Mark, the less intellectual character in the group, and also the couple from England Louise Peterhoff and Archie Madekwe, are thoroughly credible in their respective roles. Gunnel Fred as the commune’s matriarch Siv is also as gentle as she is commanding and menacing in her role.
On one level, MIDSOMMAR had great potential for an intense horror plot wrapped around a difficult love story with ultimate redemption for the two lovers, which would make the horror plot easier to watch. Although none of the characters in the group visiting the commune are without sin and totally innocent victims, and justice must be meted out to them, neither are the cult members who abuse and attack them.
Sadly, though, rather than explore some alternative options, the director chooses an abhorrent course of profanities, obscenities, bloody scenes, gratuitous sex, perversion, and gore. In the movie’s one sex scene, a group of completely naked women standing in semicircle behind the nude Maja, who is stretched out on the floor waiting for Christian to impregnate her. Meanwhile, saturated with hallucinogens, Christian is goaded into engaging in intercourse with Maja as everyone watches. He also participates in a bizarre, rather repulsive, ritual, which drew loud laughs from the audience. To make matters worse, a tall standing cross is prominently depicted at the center of the commune. The end result is that not only does MIDSOMMAR hardly have any identifiable redemptive qualities, but it also would be very hard for any media-wise reader to sit through it without immediately regretting being exposed to such an obscene spectacle; if, of course, they don’t walk out of the theater in disgust during the middle of the movie.
Ultimately, MIDSOMMAR is uninspiring and loathsome. MIDSOMMAR certainly isn’t a movie for family audiences, but MOVIEGUIDE® advises all moviegoers that it’s one horror movie they can easily skip.
MIDSOMMAR is a disturbing horror movie about some college age millennials who travel to Sweden to spend 10 days at an isolated backwoods commune in Sweden. The visitors include a young lady, who just lost three family members to a horrible murder-suicide. Also along for the trip are the woman’s reluctant boyfriend, some college buddies, their classmate, and a Swedish exchange student. The exchange student has relatives in the commune. He invited them to visit the commune and promised to give them a unique experience that will expand their knowledge of anthropology. The commune turns out to be a pagan cult. Eventually, the cult members take the visitors on a bizarre, unexpected, increasingly deadly ride.
MIDSOMMAR ultimately succumbs to excessive, gratuitous, uninspiring perversion, graphic violence, gore, explicit nudity, foul language, and murder, despite some convincing performances and excellent editing. There are no characters representing a Christian perspective or morally redemptive values. In fact, the story contains some desecration of Christian symbols. MIDSOMMAR certainly isn’t a movie for media-wise audiences, but MOVIEGUIDE® advises all moviegoers that it’s one horror movie they sould skip.