Midsommar bummer


So I somehow talked myself into watching Midsommar, the aesthetic horror film everyone was going on about awhile ago. I think the combination of darling Florence Pugh and the beautiful floral production art convinced me that maybe, just maybe, I would like this movie. And I still can't figure out if I did or not. 

(spoilers follow)

The plot of Midsommar is a slightly twisted version of The Wicker Man. I actually just recently saw the 1976 version of the film (I passed on the Nicolas Cage version) and so it was very fresh in my mind when viewing this film. It has the same sort of "stranger happens into a charming but sinister-seeming cult" storyline, though how they set up Midsommar is different.

Dani (Florence Pugh) starts the film in a crappy long term relationship with Christian, an emotionally distant guy who is on the verge of breaking things off. Then Dani's sister kills herself and their parents and he figures that he can't break up with her now so instead reluctantly invites her along on his guys trip to Sweden to attend a Midsommar festival for their anthropology thesis projects (???). 

Things at the festival are strange from the start and creepy events start unfolding including a cliff dive double suicide so brutal that I felt physically sick for the rest of the movie. The friend group gets picked off one by one as the cult members drag each of them off in different directions. Dani's boyfriend gets selected to have sex with one of the members and then is bludgeoned immediately afterward leaving him paralyzed, and Dani wins a dance competition and becomes the May Queen, leaving it in her hands to decide who the final sacrifices will be. Having witnessed his cheating, she ultimately chooses to sacrifice Christian in a final act of revenge and smiles as he and all the other victims burn to death. 

What I liked

The aesthetics of this film were on point. The bright, sun-drenched atmosphere makes the horrible acts being committed that much more unsettling. It drags on in a way that feels akin to what the group is experiencing as they live through the "longest day" with the most sunlight. Florence Pugh was very convincing in her role and I think as a horror, it worked. It gave me the creeps and left enough disturbing imagery in my head to fuel dozens of nightmares. While the horror for some people might have been the relationship plotline, the grisly deaths turned my stomach upside down.

What I didn't like

Honestly, and this is just my personal thing, it was too grossly gruesome for me. I just can't handle that. Apart from my own hangups there, I couldn't really understand the protagonist's motivations. She just suffered a highly traumatic life event and goes to Sweden on this trip to try to escape her feelings (got it) and then somehow is convinced by the cult members that she "finally has a family and isn't alone anymore" (what about her friends back home? Other relatives? They make it seem like she is now totally alone in the world) and ultimately becomes so hateful of her boyfriend, (who definitely sucks but they should have just broken up) that she watches him be murdered with glee. I just don't really follow - it goes from like 0 - 60 with her in the course of like a week. And the whole movie is just a weird allegory for how much relationships can suck and how you want to kill your ex or something, which is kind of shallow in my opinion. 

Okay anyway, I'm going to go throw up now thinking about all those death scenes again...

My Overall Score: B-

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