Critics Consensus

Ambitious, impressively crafted, and above all unsettling, Midsommar further proves writer-director Ari Aster is a horror auteur to be reckoned with.



Total Count: 275


Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 3,469
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Movie Info

Dani and Christian are a young American couple with a relationship on the brink of falling apart. But after a family tragedy keeps them together, a grieving Dani invites herself to join Christian and his friends on a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village. What begins as a carefree summer holiday in a land of eternal sunlight takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that render the pastoral paradise increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing. From the visionary mind of Ari Aster comes a dread-soaked cinematic fairytale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.

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Critic Reviews for Midsommar

All Critics (275) | Top Critics (39)

  • Grim, grisly and downright sickening, Midsommar is a feel-bad horror film about suicide, mercy killings, insanity, graphic nudity, religious hysteria, and the kind of grotesque imagery that exists for no other reason than shock value.

    Jul 9, 2019 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

    Rex Reed

    Top Critic
  • Don't let the studio-manufactured hype fool you; this is a midsummer's matinee bore.

    Jul 9, 2019 | Rating: 0/5 | Full Review…
  • Midsommar has that sort of staying power, which makes it a better choice for horror aficionados than the other midsummer garbage currently being dumped into theaters.

    Jul 8, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • "Midsommar" is an upsetting movie, and I mean that word in pretty much every way you can think of... But the truth is that he's just two movies into his career, and it's probably only a matter of time before he figures out how to stick the landing.

    Jul 8, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Ari Aster's folk-horror flick is frightening, beautiful, and just a little unhinged.

    Jul 8, 2019 | Full Review…
  • "Midsommar" is no slouch on chills, but they creep up slowly, like a bad trip from one of the Swedes' festive glasses of hallucinogenic tea, and are leavened with an occasional dash of humor.

    Jul 5, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Midsommar

  • Jul 08, 2019
    I was not a fan of Hereditary. It had some admirable craft and a potent sense of dread, but it felt like it was being made up as it went and little came to much without exposition that was literally highlighted. I worried the same was about to transpire with writer/director Ari Aster's newest indie horror darling with the critics, Midsommar. It has many of the same faults I found with the earlier Hereditary yet I walked away mostly pleased from his campy, weird, and disturbing follow-up. I'm still processing why I hold one over the other, so come along with me, dear reader, as I work through this conundrum. Dani (Florence Pugh) and her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) are hanging on in a relationship past its prime. Each is wondering whether to end it, and then tragedy strikes and Dani's family is killed in one large suicide. She's lost to her grief and Christian feels compelled to comfort her and guilty to leave. He invites her to a retreat he had been intending with his friends (Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper) to the idyllic home of a Swedish-born pal, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren). The group travels to the northern reaches of Sweden to attend the pagan mid-summer festival, an event that happens once every ninety years, but things are not what they appear and soon it may be too late to leave. From a technical perspective, Aster has some serious skills even if they don't fully amount to much. His decision to film the majority of the film in bright sunlight provides a disarming contrast to most horror films that use darkness and our primal fear of it as the backdrop for their scary shenanigans. It produces a different landscape for the movie and the illusion of tranquility that will be shaken. The photography by Pawel Pogorzelski is often gorgeous in its framing and deliberate shot compositions. Aster's command of technical craft and his ability with actors gives him such a great starting point with his projects. I just wish they amounted to more than the sum of their parts, and I'm not sure Midsommar is different. It's hard not to notice that Midsommar is decidedly less ambitious and more streamlined than Hereditary, and I think this has positives and negatives. First, it makes the film more condensed and accessible. It's also a smart move to personalize the story through the experiences of Dani and her recovery from trauma. The plot presented is pretty predictable; you've seen enough other cult movies to know what should be ominous and what decisions will be regretted. I strongly suspect that Aster recognizes that his audience knows these things and that's why the narrative isn't built around what will happen next but more so how will Dani respond to what will happen next. There's a deadly ritual at about the hour mark that just about everyone and their invalid grandmother will be able to see coming, though that doesn't take away from the sick brutality of the moment and some stomach-churning prosthetics. However, even though I knew it was coming, the dread was more palpable for me because I knew it would trigger Dani, so I was lying in wait to observe her response and how it reopened her fresh emotional trauma. Midsommar is filled with these moments, where the audience may know what's coming but not exactly how Dani will respond, and that personalization and emphasis on her perspective made the simplification work. On the other end, Midsommar is very obvious with its very obvious influences. I'm hesitant to cite by name these influences because it gives away the game as far as where the plot is headed, but if you've seen the trailer then you likely already have a healthy guess. Again, it feels like Aster knows what his audience is anticipating because the homages are apparent. There's literally a bear suit at one point and a homemade lottery system to determine participation. It's all right there, in your face, and yet the movie doesn't move beyond these unsubtle reference points. Midsommar ends exactly where you would expect it to end and without a more satisfying sense of resolution to tie things up. While it hinges on the choices made by Dani and her response to them, it doesn't go into the consequences or implications of those choices, and leaves the audience hanging for more meaning never to materialize. Lord knows they could have carved some of that needed resolution from the overindulgent 140-minute running time. Much of Midsommar is methodically paced to build its unnerving and inquisitive atmosphere, to better immerse the audience in the peculiar rites and customs of this secluded cult. But a little goes a long way and after so many rituals it can become repetitious. There's at least twenty minutes that could have been trimmed to makes this movie less meandering. The woman sitting behind me at my screening openly complained, during yet another ritual, "When is this going to be over?" I was genuinely surprised to be laughing as often as I did, and that's because Midsommar has a very intentional camp element at its disposal. The cult rituals and behaviors are meant to be creepy but also goofy as we view them from the perspective of the outsider. It's the same perspective that informs the whole movie. We're learning alongside the characters about what this hidden world is like, layer by layer, and there's a sense of discovery that helps drive the film and kept my interest attained. These are pretty stupid characters because they should be turning around and running for home time and time again, and yet they stay behind. It becomes an unexpected dark comedy watching them ignore the many warning signs that are obvious to the audience. It's dumbfounding that after everything these characters would still drink what they are served. Horror is rife with stupid characters being ignorant to obvious dangers, but this movie turns it into consistent humor. There are moments of pure weirdness that just forced me to laugh heartily, and it definitely feels like that is the intended response. How else should one respond when a nude woman interrupts sexual coitus to start singing in your face? The characters aren't exactly the Ugly American depictions we've come to expect in movies where we root for their demise in a foreign setting. Nobody matters except for Dani and Christian, and even he is more a foil for her. He's not a bad person but he's also not helping her. The movie is dominated by Dani and her emotional journey. There are many scenes of her breaking down and Pugh (the breakout from the underseen Lady Macbeth) is our emotional anchor. Her performance is more grounded than Toni Colette's in Hereditary and a respite for the audience to come back to. The empathetic community of the pagan cult provides a comfort she is searching for. Pugh feels like a normal person struggling under trauma and relatable relationship woes. With two horror movies under his belt, Aster's style and signatures as a filmmaker are coming more into focus. He emphasizes atmosphere and mystery at the expense of plot. His movies have creepy images and moments, and Midsommar definitely has its spooky share, but these moments can also feel rather arbitrary. Why does someone wear a bear suit and not a moose suit? It doesn't matter because it's just atmospheric ephemera that doesn't tie into the plot. Why is there a "seer" with elephantitus who happens to be the byproduct of inbreeding? Because it looks weird, and never mind that that much inbreeding would take generations. The world building feels at the behest of the imagery and not the other way around. Also, you'll know you're watching an Ari Aster film if there's older full-frontal nudity, an emphasis on mental illness, suicide, religious cults, and wailing women. I mean like loud, painfully prolonged caterwauling. There are even moments where the cult acts like a chorus to the cries, climaxes, and wailing of others, and it goes from being weird to being obnoxious rather quickly. I predict Midsommar is going to be another hit with critics and self-styled horror elites and leave most general audiences bewildered and frustrated (Hereditary received a D+ rating from opening day audiences via CinemaScore). It's hard for me to see a broad audience willingly hopping aboard Ari Aster's wavelength, which seems engineered to be insular. It prizes creepy atmosphere at the behest of plot and structure, the pacing can be stubbornly slow and repetitious, and you're left wondering if anything amounted to anything. At least with Midsommar I feel like stripping down the narrative and streamlining made me more empathetic with the main heroine and her reactions, but it does make for a less ambitious and more predictable film that, despite being in bright sunlight, is content to stay hidden in the shadows of its influences. Nate's Grade: B-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Jul 05, 2019
    This was a film experience like no other. I need to take a minute and think before I write this full review.
    Bradley J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 05, 2019
    HOW SWEDE IT IS - My Review of MIDSOMMAR (4 Stars) Getting dumped sucks. Sometimes you feel it coming on like a slow moving train, unable to stop it, and when it hits you, you experience a long, drawn out kick to the gut. The world feels incomprehensible, nothing makes sense, and you feel like it never will again. You can't avoid the pain, and you may not even want to anyhow. It's like watching a horror movie where you don't want the protagonist to go in that basement, but you have a stronger urge to see what's down there. Ari Aster, who made his startling debut last year with Hereditary, understands that the best horror plays with real human fears, be it disease, abandonment, or loss of control. Reportedly based on a painful breakup of his own, his MIDSOMMAR uses folk horror as the spine on which to lay down his thoughts on a dying relationship, and it's a delicious, morbidly funny, gore-filled, visually stunning, gorgeously designed, perfectly indulgent 2 hours and 20 minutes of sun-dappled, rainbow colored dread. Dani (the captivating Florence Pugh) experiences a tragic loss at the outset of the film, and her paralyzing grief wears down her emotionally incapable boyfriend Christian (Jack Raynor, whose schlubby stoner look from Sing Street has morphed into an almost Chris Pratt level of matinee idol looks). Encouraged to cut ties with his needy girlfriend by his fellow grad students, Christian and his friends plan a summer getaway to Sweden to attend a once in a lifetime cultural festival. His friends include Mark, a quip machine played to deadpan perfection by Will Poulter (Detroit), Josh (William Jackson Harper of The Good Place), an anthropological scholar intent on writing his thesis about European folk culture, and the gentle, soft spoken Pele (Vilhelm Blomgren), who invites everyone to his village commune for their once-every-ninety-years activities. Unable to cut ties with Dani because of her trauma, he half-heartedly invites her along, and to his surprise, she says yes. This first act perfectly captures a pair in their death throes, where questions seem like accusations, and pauses reveal underlying truths. Aster borrows heavily from Roman Polanski, as he did with his debut film, by allowing negative and offscreen space and holding onto shots longer than normal, to create elastic tensions. It's so refreshing to watch a filmmaker, who creates strong, classic frames with his cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski, take his time, avoiding the rushed cutting style of his contemporaries. He also really thinks through his transitions, creating an unforgettable one where Dani, in an overhead shot, rushes into an apartment bathroom, only to reveal that she's now on an airplane headed for Scandinavia. I also savored the delightfully disorienting upside-down shots of the road as the group drives toward their destiny. Now most filmmakers, at this point would want to get to the gore and bloodletting, but Aster wants us to live with that sinking feeling for as along as possible. So before our doomed Americans arrive at the proper camp, they stop just outside of it for an extended interlude where they imbibe hallucinogenic mushrooms. This allows Dani, a bundle of uptight, frayed nerves to perhaps chill out, but it has the opposite effect. She has scars, and Pugh takes us on a master class of expressions. Is she crazy or is she simply with a guy incapable of giving her what she needs? Ahh, relationships can suck, even in a seemingly perfect environment where the sun barely sets and the villagers offer up the perfect embodiment of an ABBA tune. Most horror films take place in the dark and freak us out with their jump scares. This film operates in bright sunlight and terrifies with very few shock tactics. Sometimes a misunderstanding can haunt your dreams more than someone shouting, "Boo!" Here we get a Swedish death cult that looks like a lot of ridiculous fun. Obviously this experience has far more to offer than maypole dances and giant feasts. Henrik Svensson, making his feature debut as a Production Designer, has created the weirdest, most ominous storybook environment with an endless array of folk paintings lining the walls of his interiors. They look cute until you take a harder look at the terrifying and carnal tales they depict. Same goes for everything going on in the background of most shots. The pleasant folk dress in white, classically Swedish garb, almost sprinkling fairy dust wherever they go, but look off in the distance and you'll spy couples doing inexplicable things. The genius of these scenes is that these people, called the Hårga, always appear to be kind and caring. From their point of view, they never do anything wrong. Bobby Krlic, who goes by the name The Haxan Clock, adds immeasurably to the tone of this film with his rich, evocative score. Aster mines most of this folk horror from the fact that we have a clash of cultures who don't understand each other and often nod their heads to pretend that they do. When something unexpected, something insanely disturbing and gory, happens, it had me questioning our American norms versus those in other parts of the world. At this point, many may feel the film stretches credibility, that our protagonists would get the hell out of this place right away. But due to Pele's sweet persuasiveness and maybe in small part to those drugs they keep imbibing in every cup of that mysterious tea, they stay. Besides, we get an audience surrogate of sorts with an English couple who go crazy when the pagan rituals start to have a body count. While many characters meet their doom, we're on Dani's journey, who travels from grief towards her own method of coping. Aster may have a great time staging the bizarre rites of this cult, but he's more interested in finding a catharsis for his heroine. Where he ends up, in that perfect final second, proved thrilling and strangely real. The violence, the crazy shots of throbbing, undulating meats, the Hannibal level of murder dioramas, however, will also stick in your head. While this film pings on the may themes found in Rosemary's Baby, such as not really knowing your partner, suspecting an evil undercurrent lies beneath the people around you, and, yes, even drinking strange liquids, Aster reverses the roles at times and has a more avenging spirit. This film would make a great triple bill with that film along with the recent remake of Suspiria. The latter really felt similar when things go absolutely bonkers in the third act. With copious amounts of nudity, sex, and bloodshed, both films use giggle-inducing absurdity to create its own form of horror. You won't soon forget what one character does to another's butt, and I'll just leave it at that. Many will lose their patience with this film, or find it more silly than scary. I, however, loved every drawn-out minute of it It challenges how we view death. It allows for the possibility that it's sometimes ok to be alone. It makes you wonder if our own customs make any sense, and it may make you think twice about judging the basket case who seems to suck all the energy out of a relationship. In the end, that person may be the only sane person in the room. And isn't that terrifying?
    Glenn G Super Reviewer
  • Jul 04, 2019
    I feel like it is only right to provide an appropriate buffer warning before seeing this movie. It is not for the feint of heart. If you have a weak relationship, have recently lost a family member, suffer from bipolar disorder, chronic depression, or are traveling to rural Scandinavia you might want to hold off on viewing this until it is released digitally. Midsommar is about tragedy, dishonesty, and catharsis. They try to advertise this as a horror movie, and while there are some creepy moments, It really isn't horror. This movie is going to turn off a lot of viewers. Not a lot of violence, but has very disturbing imagery, lots of implied off screen terror, up-close male and female nudity, and sexuality. It is a very slow burn movie, and spends a lot of time character building, before driving the plot. Its a very small story with not a lot there, but the artistry pushes it making it fill out the movie as much as possible, even when there is seemingly nothing going on. The cinematography though saves a lot of the slowness. The scenery is nothing short of epic. There is a lot of silence where you just take in each shot by shot. There are some amazing camera shots in this movie. The use of Double framing 2 shots in 1 with the use of mirrors is perfect from a technical standpoint is stands out as a high fidelity low tech visual achievement in this film. They use these mirror shots several times throughout the movie and it is always impressive. Also, the use of lighting, dimming, and exposing is masterful. Speaking of Lighting this is probably the brightest A24 film ever, and they "mirror" that with lighthearted character banter. Not so much that it outshines the darkness of the tone, but just enough comedic flare to show the contrast between the two cultures, and the foreboding awkwardness that is looming on the cusp of discomfort. Its as if someone has told an inappropriate joke at the wrong time, and you release a pity chuckle to break the tension. it blends in well. Florence Pugh's performance is top notch. Its very convincing and is extremely powerful. Her Character Dani, goes through a traumatic loss and is seen grieving throughout in multiple panic attacks. When she cries you feel the emptiness and the pain in each of her shrieks. It is uncomfortable, it is raw, and they capture what it feels like to lose someone, and is honestly probably the most tense sequences the movie has to offer. If you've ever gotten one of those calls, its like swallowing a rock, while watching everyone else eat banana creme pudding. The other characters outside of Dani are also given a lot of time to develop and have their intentions clear. All of them are very unlikable, selfish, and dishonest with one another for their own selfish goals. The boyfriend of Dani in particular is extremely unlikable and makes you question why she is so low power with him and in need of his affection. Some of the scenes feel slightly forced, as if someone was in the directors ear reminding him that they have to pitch this as a horror movie to get butts in the seat. And other sequences seem to have absolutely nothing to do with anything and seemed to just be approved writing drudgery. The sound design in this is also on point. The drowned out sounds of feeling numb, or the tens lingering strings of tension, the breeze of the wind against long grass and flowers. There are also some very interesting visual effects to portray the feeling of what it is to be under the influence of psychedelics. Its more of a dark thriller, with horror elements and even some black comedy. Midsommar is more of an experience than it is a movie, and because of the lack of story It is a hard pass for the average movie goer. I simply cannot recommend it. But if you like art house films, pour yourself a glass a wine, burn some incense and give this one a go. This is something very different.
    Vincent T Super Reviewer

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