It’s taken me a long time to write this review because, basically, I have been trying to make sense of the movie in my head. I haven’t succeeded!
I went to see it with a friend of mine and at the end, I turned to her and said “well, that was a pile of crap, just like Hereditary”, but she said she’d really enjoyed it. Maybe I’ve judged it too harshly, I thought, hence my weeks of pondering. My conclusion is that I hadn’t judged it too harshly – the film was full of holes… in my opinion.
The premise of the story is great. A group of guys have planned to go out to Sweden and participate in the mid summer festival held in the home village of one of the group, Pelle. Another member of the group – Christian – is going through a bad time with his long-term girlfriend, Dani, and his friends are encouraging him to dump her before they go off on their trip. Christian is on the brink of doing so, when Dani’s mentally ill sister murders their parents and herself, leaving Dani all alone. Christian doesn’t have the heart to break up with her and, instead, invites her to Sweden with them. The only one happy with this is Pelle who comments that he understands what it is like to lose a parent, as he had lost both his when he was a child.
The movie jumps to Sweden and their arrival in Pelle’s home village, where it seems there is a mass migration of inhabitants back for the festival, each one seeming to have brought some outsiders with them. The first ‘unexplained’ strangeness happens here, when they are all required to take magic mushrooms (or something similar), and enjoy a trip which increases Dani’s paranoia, before they can enter the village.
The village itself is quite primitive, reminding me of a cult commune more than a village, with everyone dressing the same and sleeping in the same huge room.
Aster does succeed in setting you on edge here as it is obvious something is not quite right with the commune, but the cast are oblivious due to the magic mushrooms.
The second ‘unexplained’ strangeness occurs on the first full day of their visit when there is a ceremonial breakfast for a middle-aged couple, who are then led off up to a clifftop where they proceed to jump to their deaths. The reason given is that when villagers reach a certain age (I can’t remember what it was) they kill themselves to relieve the other villagers of the burden of their demise… not a full explanation in my book.
Again, Aster does the goriness of bodies that have hit solid rock from a considerable height very well, and the reaction of our small group is palpable.
The third ‘unexplained’ strangeness is the fact that every 90 years the village performs ‘this’ ritual. The ritual itself is never explained, but it soon becomes evident that it involves sacrifice, hence the locals dragging in outsiders to take part. Aster forgets to explain why this ritual has to be performed and why it is outsiders, with the odd local offering themselves willingly, that have to be the offering. This is where the movie fell down for me. Had the whole Midsommar ritual been explained properly, whether it be told by Pelle, or the gang had found it in one of the village’s ‘oracles’, then it would have made all the difference to my view of the film.
For me the movie just became a farce. From Christian having to have public sex with a local virgin (and impregnate her) to the excruciating singing and waling of the villagers.
The only redeeming features for me were that Dani got her own back on Christian for the way he treated her, and also the impressive special effects. The suspension of disbelief just wasn’t there for me.
This was not a film about how different tribes live. This was definitely a cult, and had things been explained properly, this could have been a fantastic movie.
I have a feeling you need to consume magic mushrooms to make sense of it!