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Film review: Midsommar

PUBLISHED: 18:59 12 July 2019

Jack Reynor as Chrstian Hughes and Florence Pugh as Dani Ardor in Midsommar

Jack Reynor as Chrstian Hughes and Florence Pugh as Dani Ardor in Midsommar

Archant

Mark Goodin reviews one of the summer's most spine-tingling tales, Midsommar.

For audiences concerned that following the success of his relentlessly bleak, shocking Hereditary Ari Aster's sophomore feature might be a more mainstream, Hollywood affair, worry not; for he has delivered an equally chilling experience with Midsommar.

Following a familial tragedy, Dani (Florence Pugh) joins her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his graduate school friends on a trip to Sweden, hoping it will bring them closer.

Once there, they soon find themselves entangled in a cult, the Harga, who have sinister designs on the group.

While the sweeping, idyllic, perpetually sunlit landscapes are a far cry form the dark, claustrophobic interior spaces in Hereditary, Aster retains the oppressive atmosphere, slowly ramping up the tension as the group participate in and witness the Harga's increasingly outlandish and horrific rituals - a wince-inducing cliff top ceremony is particularly well-staged.

Although, for some, these sequences are not quite as bone-chilling as those in Hereditary, Aster interweaves the horror and character drama with such finesse that it is difficult to shake off the impact of the visceral atmosphere long after the Wicker Manesque final frames.

As with his previous film, the director draws extraordinary turns from his leads. Pugh and Reynor are both on fine form, particularly in the film's final act, in which their characters are pushed into truly extreme and distressing situations.

A film that demands to be seen on the cinema screen, Midsommar is a unique and disturbing film which is, along with Us, one of the year's best horrors.

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