Director: Ari Aster
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Ari Aster didn’t invent daylight horror, but with Midsommar he took an already unnerving concept and dressed it up with flowers, smiles, and joyous pagan rituals. It’s a flip of the light switch for this acclaimed director, who broke into the scene last year with his wildly dark and imaginative debut feature film, Hereditary. This time around, he brings similar excruciating trauma and a doomed relationship into the light for a presumably idyllic festival in Sweden.
Midsommar is a deeper dive into Aster’s psyche as he sharply marries personal experience with nightmarish folk-horror. It revels in uneasy moments, expertly balancing taboo humor and unforgettable dread. Here it’s Dani, played by the rising Florence Pugh, who grapples with severe family loss and a crummy boyfriend while contending with an ancestral commune devoted to its uber-rare and fatal midsummer festival. Pugh glows in the absurdity of it all and Aster’s creative affinity for the macabre makes for a beguiling viewing experience. May he terrorize our summers for years to come.