A couple of days ago, I sat down with my dad to watch this well-acclaimed horror upon the recommendation of many people. The film follows a couple, Dani & Christian, as their retreat to sunny Scandinavia leads to a series of horrific rituals from a Pagan cult.
The film follows a simple linear narrative structure which greatly works to align the spectators with the characters and events throughout the film’s runtime.
One of the elements most noteworthy about Midsommar is its use of sound. The presence and absence of the score in scenes is incredibly impactful and often creates a sense of discomfort through the contrapuntal use of a fairly upbeat score throughout some of the most disturbing scenes. This discomfort is further expressed through the fact that a lot the score seems to have a diegetic source but it is not always made entirely clear – as a spectator, we aren’t certain where everything we hear is coming from and thus are led to feel rather uneasy.
Whilst some of the camerawork is overtly attempting to disorientate the audience, the film, for the most part, succeeds in both creating such a reaction but also in making the film continuously visually interesting. When accompanied with some beautifully jarring cuts through the brilliant editing work of Lucian Johnston.
All of these elements, however, would be pointless unless the mise-en-scene held up too! The overall colour scheme gives the film a dreamlike aesthetic – which wonderfully parallels the drug-induced state that the characters are in for the majority of the film’s runtime. The costume design beautifully segregates the cult from Dani, Christian and their friends and shows their downward spiral into following the rituals of the cult. There is a clear directorial and aesthetic vision for the film and all of the filmmaking elements greatly support and accompany each other in order to create the overall product.
Midsommar is clearly aimed towards a niche audience of film fans. It is distributed by A24 – a company known for releasing niche and unconventional cinema to cinephiles. This film saw a great success from its release but is still very dissimilar from conventional cinema through its artistic shots and very clear auteurship from director Ari Aster that leads me to want to see more from his work.
I wouldn’t recommend this to the majority of people but I did find it to be a very well-made film. At several points, it can be extremely creepy and disturbing but any film that can produce a genuine visceral reaction has a lot of respect from me.