Why You Should Still See ‘Midsommar’ Despite Being Divisive

Midsommar is the sophomore effort by Hereditary director Ari Aster. It stars Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, and William Jackson Harper as a group of Americans who get invited to partake in a friend’s own family tradition of midsummer in Hälsingland, Sweden.

Although Aster has been endlessly praised by critics for putting together an ambitious and dread-filled piece of work, many audience members have also come out of their way to disagree with the critics; some calling it “pretentious, boring, and uninspired”. This is, unarguably, apparent by looking at the critic vs. audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Midsommar‘s Rotten Tomatoes Score from both critics and general audience members as of July 22, 2019.

This isn’t the first time Aster has dealt with harsh criticism about his films. Last year’s Hereditary was, arguably, more hated by audiences than Midsommar.

Ari Aster’s debut, Hereditary, gets a D+ by CinemaScore. (CinemaScore)

Despite the overwhelming amount of people who didn’t like Midsommar, I am here to tell you why you should still see this impressive work of art, either way.

Where The Real Horror Comes From

Although the director’s debut Hereditary was considered a horror movie, it also works as a family drama. This kind of genre blending is more present in Midsommar. In the words of Ari Aster himself, he considers his film as an “adult contemporary fairy tale” with “dark comedy” (which, in my opinion, blended it better and a less awkwardly than Jordan Peele’s Us). Midsommar has so much more to offer than just horror; it is filled with psychedelia and drama, too.

Ari Aster understands that fear is subjective and that everyone has their own fears. His films rely on this and audiences start to realize that the horror doesn’t come from the scares, but rather the human condition. In this film, Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) are on the verge of breaking up when something awful happens to Dani and Christian feels obligated to continue the relationship. The slow crumbling of this relationship is really the core of this film and it’s just awful to watch. The way characters interact with each other and react to certain things is what the audience will relate to and many will be left unnerved by all of this since it will likely hit close to home.

Florence Pugh (left) as Dani and Jack Reynor (right) as Christian in Midsommar. (Gabor Kotschy/ A24)
Pawel Pogorzelski’s Beautiful Camera Work

Pogorzelski has established himself as a master cinematographer with Hereditary, so I guessed that it wouldn’t be any different this time around.

I was wrong.

He somehow managed to further perfect his craft with each shot and precision in symmetry. The overexposure throughout the majority of the film is overwhelming, yet compliments the uncomfortable tone Aster wants to achieve. Pogorzelski also manages to create a new character with the camera and forces the audience to further be sucked into this beautifully disturbing world.

Beautifully shot rituals. (A24)
Bobby Krlic’s Haunting Score

Also known as The Haxan Cloak, Krlic creates tension, uneasiness and euphoria with a gorgeous score. It really helps the film establish the tone that makes us squeamish and ready to leave the theater. Yet, the sounds he produces are not conventionally scary.

Many of the tracks are composed of sweet strings, carefully thought out drum patterns, and quiet synths that almost sound dream-like or “fairy tale-ish”. These decisions further help execute Aster’s idea of Midsommar being an adult fairy tale.

Apart from the sweet, dreamy sounds are also the more common horror film sounds. Loud beats and messy string patterns are also included in this soundtrack, but Krlic makes it his own and it truly stands out from other horror soundtracks.

The standout track from this score would be “Fire Temple” which is a nearly-10 minute track full of orchestral and dramatic beauty that ends the film. Hearing it alone is majestic, but hearing it while watching the last moments of Midsommar is a pure cinematic wonder that can only be seen to be believed.

Bobby Krlic, or The Haxan Cloak, composer of the Midsommar Original Score.

I believe Midsommar offers, at least, something for everyone. I am confident that people who hate this will find one aspect that they like.

As for Aster, I predict he will continue to make more divisive films that have something to say and his infamous Hereditary Cinemascore will continue to be an atrocity for film lovers around the world.