I have said it before… I went to see the remake of “The Wickerman” just to see Nicholas Cage burn at the end. I appreciate it is a brash statement, and actually, I don’t wish the guy any harm (just in case he stumbles across this one day and thinks I am the one that has been sending hate mail to him…I am not), but the original and the remake made no real sense. Ok, it was based on a village who followed some form of bastardised pagan rituals, and they lure men in, to impregnate the women and then ceremonially kill them to make sure the crops continue grow. “Midsommer” on the other hand, is everything that “The Wickerman” wanted to be.
I am also going to give a passing tip of the hat to “The Handmaids Tale” as there is a definite feel of underlying female power despite the male lead presence.
This film is the latest offering from Ari Aster, and I have to admit, with his entrance of “Hereditary” I did wonder if he would be able to keep up the momentum of his shock tactic starter. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
This film is super new out, and actually I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there is lots in here to look out for, so I am simply going to talk about the look and film and give people some pointers if you haven’t seen it, or have seen it and missed things.
The story is based between America and Sweden. There is a stark contrast against the locations, really pay attention to the weather and lighting in both locations. I would also recommend paying careful attention to items in Dani’s apartment (Florence Pugh), as in true Aster style it is seeped in symbolism which will lead you to conclusions about her ultimate fate.
Once arriving in Sweden, the visuals and mood changes. They are in the land of the midnight sun, so the scenes are bathed in bright sunshine and even the night scenes are set in a form of twighlight, presenting some fairly confusing emotions as you watch the characters try and sleep in some commune style abode and no true darkness… it is a pretty bold move for a horror film to include no darkness what so ever.
In Sweden it becomes fairly obvious that the pictures around the community and on the clothing lnk heavily to the fates of all the characters, so I don’t think it is much of a spoiler to disclose that, but really pay attention as you will catch glimpses and later wonder why you didn’t pay more attention. The style of the artwork is remincent of 17th century tapestries, giving the illusion that this community is not just a pop up religion, but a long invested belief system.
There are elements of realness within this film, the use of runes within the pictures and clothing worn (you can see the runes on the tunics in the above picture) bring an element of authenticity, which can leave audiences feeling that the norse paganism may be at play within this film.
I have to mention the music and sounds used in this film. There is a heavy focus on a female vocalist singing in Swedish which is fairly eerie in itself, but there is also a heavy concentration on breathing. Throughout the film you will notice that breathing patterns are picked out starting with certain characters, but later becomes a group activity, which acentuates the feelings of unity. This feeling is also presented through the copious drug use within the film (mushrooms and other such “herbal stimulant”) which gives a movement to the background, its a very odd sensation for the audience which will leave you feeling like you have been sucked into the proceedings.
There are some graphically horrific moments in this film, as usual I had read nothing about this film, except for seeing the trailer. These moments are few and far between, but when they happen they pack a punch. I mention this as if you aren’t prepared for the gore, this can be even more shocking. I will give the commendation that this isn’t gore for the sake of it, the moments absolutely fit in with the films feel and ethos.
There is one last piece that I am going to criptically talk about, which is around whether this film is a horror filled nightmare or a fairy story. You will notice that I have selected a picture from within the film as the feature image, rather than the film poster, simply because I feel that this picture encapsulates the film in its entirity. Depending on what characters you concentrate on will determine if you see this film as a journey through fear or a journey to a happy ending. This has confused many viewer in reviews I have read since as they aren’t sure why Dani ends up smiling, but for this to make sense, you need to look at each characters individual journey and what, if anything their future holds.
I have been truly astounded by this film, as Aster really is a master of visuals, with a really keen eye and feel for detail, making his films a true piece of art which unfolds infront of his audeinces. I personally wish that more films would go into so much detail and hidden context, there is only one part I can moan about which is the character of Mark (Will Poulter). There is an arguement that says that he is the embodiement of the ignorant, but his pitfalls are too obvious and too basic to feel that he fits happily within this film.
There is a lot more that I could talk about with this film around how very clever parts are, but this would ruin it for anyone who hasn’t yet watched it, so I would recommend that you go and see this, then pop back and let me know what you thought in the comments.
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