On Sunday, actress Florence Pugh declared the horror film Midsommar — the second movie from Hereditary director Ari Aster in theaters July 3 — to be “one helluva ride.” Following early screenings of the folk-horror tale on Tuesday, critics seem to agree.
“MIDSOMMAR confirms a major talent who isn’t afraid to alienate… most people,” wrote Vanity Fair critic Richard Lawson on Twitter. “A psychotropic plunge into what death might mean, if it means anything. Deeply upsetting and very funny?”
“A wickedly funny romp with Ugly Americans and Freaky Swedes in the woods, a premium cut of one of my favorite subgenres (daytime horror), and just so confidently made,” wrote David Sims of The Atlantic. “Ari Aster takes the very idea of a sophomore slump and sets it ablaze.”
“Going to join the chorus and say I absolutely loved #Midsommar,” wrote Meagan Navarro of the Bloody Disgusting website. “Ari Aster nails guttural, raw emotion. But this time? So much joy and humor with the f—ed up pain. Legit feel good horror for me.”
“MIDSOMMAR will do for Swedish pagan solstice rituals what Psycho did for showers,” wrote Indie Wire film critic David Ehrlich. “In a psychedelic fairy tale about ridding oneself of fear and pain — absolutely delightful from its nightmare of an opening to its floral purge of a finale.”
“I was super nervous going into #MIDSOMMAR because of my deep love for Hereditary, but holy s— you guys, @MidsommarMovie is a masterpiece,” wrote Shannon McGrew of the website, Nightmarish Conjurings.
In the film, Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor play an American couple, Dani and Christian, whose lovers’ bond has seen better days. The pair embark on a trip to Scandinavia with friends Mark (Will Poulter), Josh (William Jackson Harper), and Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), the latter of whom has invited them to visit his remote village in Sweden. “They’re a really weird, culty kind of commune,” Reynor told EW earlier this year. “Everybody’s all dressed in white, they have strange kinds of social cliques.” The town is celebrating Midsummer — “a particularly special iteration of the festival,” said Aster ominously — and invite their guests to take part in a number of ritualistic meals. These include a repast Pugh calls The Last Supper. “They’re in the middle of their holiday, and a few of them are over it, and I’m getting inspired to look around and figure things out,” said Pugh of the travelers’ states of mind.
And then what happens? “They just hang out,” deadpanned Aster. “They take it easy and they make it home safe and sound.” No, but seriously. “It is very safe to say that horrors ensue,” conceded the director. “The film is definitely mining the same vein as Wicker Man was working, but as a piece of folk-horror, it’s pretty irreverent in that it doesn’t really stay comfortably on that route. That’s why I’m making sure to describe it as a fairytale. It’s not a million miles away from something like Alice in Wonderland. It’s a psychedelic film. But there are no solid [comparisons] that I can hand you. I’m hoping that the film feels pretty singular and is a trip.”
Watch the trailer for Midsommar, above.