Midsommar (2019)

Director: Ari Aster

Writer: Ari Aster (Screenplay)

Starring: Florence Pugh, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Liv Mjones, Anna Astrom, Julia Ragnarsson

 

Plot: A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Wicker Man on Acid

 

Story: Midsommar starts when young lady Dani (Pugh) has her family die suddenly, turning to the only person left in her life, her boyfriend Christian (Reynor) who has started to move away from their relationship. Christian and his friends Josh (Harper), Mark (Poulter) and Pelle (Blomgren) are planning a trip to Pelle’s home in Sweden for a special mid-summer festival.

Christian trying to do the right thing for Dani, invites her along, but it isn’t long before the festival turns into a cultural nightmare for the outsiders who have never seen the customs before.

 

Thoughts on Midsommar

 

Characters – Dani is a young lady that has suffered a heart-breaking tragedy in her life, leaving her along in the world, struggle to get over the loss of her family, she is unsure about her relationship with her boyfriend and agrees to go with him on the trip to Sweden. Dani is trying her best to get on with her life, which is seeing her have the good and bad days, while on the commune she starts to relax more in life. Christian is the student boyfriend of Dani, he is starting to question the relationship about to end it before the tragedy strikes, he invites her believing she won’t go, while also hoping to find out whether they should stay together. Josh is a student friend of Christian, who has been working on his paper on different cultures, he sees this event a major part of his studies, only he doesn’t seem to respect enough cultures. Mark is the comic relief, he wants to go to Sweden to meet women, he is quick to turn to drink or drugs, while always putting his foot in it.

PerformancesFlorence Pugh is the star of the show, she does show the grief required in her role, which shows us how hard to is finding life. Jack Reynor has finished turning his career around after Transformers, with one that must make people take him seriously now. Will Poulter will make you laugh with nearly everything he says, while William Jackson Harper will make you dislike his characters arrogance quickly.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman dealing with grief of losing her family, trying to get away from her past by getting away from the world with the festival which soon sees her trapped with her friends with a cult that has strict rules. Much like Hereditary, we are tackling grief on a personal level, unlike Hereditary we find ourselves not seeing a timeline to make us understand the recover process that Dani is trying to go through. The story does have a huge problem for me though, is that this is a story which the people should just walk or run away after seeing the first major incident, not just calmly say ‘sure this is a different culture we should see what happens next’ this is easily one of the biggest let down in any horror. We also do spend way too much time just turning to drugs as an excuse rather than trying to solve the real problems and the students just being arrogant not seemingly wanting to do anything with their lives.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film comes from graphic imaginary that we see from the injuries, we do have tension growing and the make up team should be praised for just how real everything looks. The mystery comes from just what is happening with this cult and what they will do next.

SettingsThe film is set in the Swedish countryside away from the world, the only type of place a cult could operate in around the modern day. The sets are the best thing about this film because they are crafted which such love and you can’t help but think everything you see is a clue to what is happening.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film do bring us the graphic images of the injuries that people are going through. The make up team work wonders on this film.


Scene of the Movie –
Dancing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just using drugs to explain why these people are friends.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that is set and created wonderfully on the outside, only to fall short on the story which only drags along without reaching any levels of scares.

 

Overall: Not reaching the potential.

Rating

 

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Hereditary (2018)

Director: Ari Aster

Writer: Ari Aster (Screenplay)

Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel

 

Plot: When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited as it slowly destroys everything they know.


Tagline – Every family tree hides a secret.

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Take Time to Analysis

 

Story: Hereditary starts as the family Annie (Collette), Steve (Byrne) Peter (Wolff) and Charlie (Shapiro) are dealing with the death of Annie’s mother and the children grandmother, we go through the funeral and life seems to be going on for them. In their remote house Charlie the younger member of the family however still has a connection to her grandmother which sees her acting in strange ways.

After another tragedy in the family, Annie turns to the dark arts to try and communicate only to learn the truth about her family’s ancestry that has put them all in danger.

 

Thoughts on Hereditary

 

Characters – Annie is the mother of the house, she always had a distant relationship with her mother and works on miniature models for gallery showings. She tries to understand hr grief and when the next tragedy happens to wants to communicate which only shows her the truth about hr mother, this character is always on edge and has the most important scenes in the movie, some of which will leave you disturbed for a while. Steve is the father of the house, he tries to keep everything grounded through the grief, he tries to support, but will draw the lines at certain points. Peter is the eldest child, a slacker in school that enjoys drugs, he has also become distant from his mother (we do learn why) and he must suffer the most when it comes to the events of the film. Charlie is the youngest child, she is definitely the strangest member of the family and we see her do some very strange activities. She also have the closest bond with the later grandmother.

PerformancesWe have one of the best performance in horror, no scratch that, any film this year from Toni Collette, her character is on edge throughout the film and the confrontation scene with Peter is easily one of the best performed scenes of the year. Gabriel Byrne is great here, he does take a step back from reacting the way Toni does and that is by design, he needs to play the calmer, serious character and it shows. Alex Wolff who turned into Dwayne Johnson a few months back in Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle, does a very good job here, the only part of his performance I wasn’t convinced by, was his sobbing didn’t feel real. Mill Shapiro is great to and has disturbing scenes to pull off effortlessly too. We have a fantastic family dynamic created by these actors.

StoryThe story here follows a family through the grief process, though it gets a supernatural twist on how they deal with it. While the pacing of the story is slow in the first half of the film, that sudden moment that changes everything ramps up the tension in the story and we don’t go the traditional route to get to the scenes you would expect after the incident. This is a story that is like a giant puzzle, I do feel every single long scene where seemingly nothing does happen, means something and this will be a film that could be analysed for years to come. The final third of the film’s story is where everything picks up and it will leave you shocked and disturbed.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film is built up moments, a mix of nightmares surrounding grief which can be shown in a mix of different ways. The mystery is just what is going on in the second half of the film because things get weird quickly.

SettingsMost of the important family related scenes happen in the house, that is where they are closest and issues come out, when we step away from the house, one character does have events happen to them away from the house, but otherwise the highlights happen at home.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are strong throughout, there was however one scene that stood out badly because it looked like some form of overlay couldn’t quite be put together correctly.


Scene of the Movie –
The final 20 minutes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me There is one scene that I could help but pick up on the CGI being used and it annoyed me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that is getting mixed opinions, I do think it is slow paced, but it is rewarding because of this pacing. This is one that will make you think and will leave you shocked by the credits.

 

Overall: One to think hard about.

Rating