So this will be a analysis/review for Midsommar, which I saw a week ago. I LOVED it. It's definitely one of my top horror films because it didn't feel like an actual horror film, although the genre itself seems to be shifting to something better and more psychological than we've been used to for the past 30 years and I love it for that. In the first half hour or so, I almost forgot I was watching a horror film because it didn't feel like one, there are moments that I thought were going to be really unsettling, but then they really weren't. Regardless, there was still this general sense of uneasiness throughout the first part of the film before Dani and Co. go to Sweden for the festival.
For the story, it involves Dani, the main character, who goes through a traumatic event where her family dies within the first 10 minutes of the film where Dani's sister kills both herself and her parents. Obviously she's devastated because of this, so much so that she has panic attacks because of this. While I was watching the film, the first 10 minutes with the set-up of Dani’s character arc to the rest of the film felt disconnected for the most part. I never got why that setup was there, even though I knew it had to be there for a reason. I thought it was just for us to emotionally care about the character enough to see how she is affected on this journey to this 9 day festival in Sweden. However, after seeing the film, I was going through YouTube at 2 a.m. listening to a review of the movie and I go down to the comments and one comment says "The death of her parents is needed for her to accept the cult as her family." After reading that, it CLICKED because not only did it connect the entire film for me, it made me connect Dani have an actual, good character arc. Dani's arc in this film goes from having no family since they died and struggling with the seemingly surrogate family she might have in her friends, but since they’re very distant with her, they don’t feel like family to her. Even her relationship with her boyfriend, Christian, is pretty tense throughout the film, to involving herself in the Hârga’s cultish activities and discovering her familial belonging through them.
Once they get to Sweden for the midsummer festival, Dani starts to slowly get involved with the Hârga cult and its practices all the while her friends are getting killed off. There are some brutal kills in this film that scared me. But through this journey Dani slowly gets involved with the Hârga cult practices and rituals, with the beginning of the end of her arc starting when she competes in a Maypole dance with other Hârga girls. The objective of this is to be the last one standing in terms of not running out of stamina from all the dancing and the last one standing becomes the May Queen. Unsurprisingly, Dani wins this competition and becomes the May Queen of the Hârga Cult. She goes through this whole ritual of being crowned. Meanwhile, through a incestual ritual of sorts, Christian has sex and impregnates this one girl. Dani, after becoming the May Queen, hears the sounds of that sexual ritual being performed in the barn near her. She looks through a little crack in the door and sees this ritual, has a panic attack, and is joined by her compatriots in screaming and wailing, most likely as a sign of community since she's now the May Queen. After that, there's one last ritual to end out the 9 day festival where nine people have to be sacrificed for outsiders, four of them being the kids that killed throughout the film, two members of the community, and three living people chosen randomly. Dani has to pick the 9th and final person and she picks Christian, her boyfriend. Christian is stuffed into a disemboweled bear and is transported to this sacred Temple, which is shaped like a yellow triangle, and is burned alive along with the two other people. As Dani watches this, she is horrified, but as it goes on she starts to smile very creepily, which was a bit unsettling to watch. I knew she accepted something from her smile, but I didn’t know what at first. Now I know it's symbolized for her acceptance of the Hârga cult as her family because she had no family before that since her actual family died and her friends never really gave her the option of being a surrogate family because they were all distant to her. So Dani's character arc was probably one of my favorite things about the film, if not my favorite thing about it.
A few other strong points of this film was the cinematography was freaking beautiful, there were many gorgeous shots in the film, with this one interesting shot involving a car going down the road. Another strong point of the film was the acting, which was great and something you don't see in many horror films because acting in other horror films is very campy and terrible, which can bring the film down. This was the exact opposite: The actors embodied the characters well. Overall, a very unconventional, slow, psychological horror film that is absolutely fantastic. If you haven't seen it yet. I implore you to go see it. Ari Aster is definitely a master at his craft.