Reed Alexander's Horror Review of "Midsommar" (2019)
The consequences of gaslighting your girlfriend
Jesus fucking Christ. I haven't seen a movie go for broke on the whole "asshole boyfriend" trope since White Settlers (2014). At least that asshole showed some growth. This prick doubled down at every moment of the movie. He goes from gaslighting his girlfriend Dani (played by Florence Pugh), to stringing along their relationship rather than dumping her, to using Dani's sister's suicide as a weapon, to being completely unsupportive as a boyfriend, to stealing a thesis from someone who is supposed to be a friend, to eye-fucking ever woman in sight. The list goes on and fucking on. GOD! How hard do you have to drive home the guy being an asshole?
I complain about this tons of my reviews. Writing contemptible characters as the protagonists isn't a deal breaker, but it it sort of sets a poor tone for the movie. We can't empathy with the struggles of the protagonist if we're constantly rooting for them to get killed. I'm all for the catharsis of watching some asshole get his comeuppance, but if there was any way to empathize with him at all, the statement would be far more powerful.
That being said, after the first 1o damn minutes of the movie, you're just hoping something bad will happen to this prick and his obnoxious hetero boyfriend. The only one you end up feeling remotely sorry for is Josh (played by William Jackson Harper). He was just trying to write a fucking thesis, and while he can be a bit of an asshole too, it's just because he's driven. That, and the asshole male lead constantly pushes him.
However, this movie has a lot going for it outside of the contemptible characters. That cinematography is just spellbinding and almost contrary to what typically makes great horror cinematography. This movie is bright colorful and has an amazing sense of melancholy. While everything is just slightly off and even a little sinister, it's always just north of creepy, and even inviting.
I don't know who wrote the story for this, but it's almost like an adventure in cult anthropology. The detail and mythos that goes into this cult and their behaviors are so damn developed, it's flat out fascinating. I made a similar comment about this style of writing in my review of Black Mountain Side (2014). This level of plot development might be a bit too smart for most horror fans. It's kinda good that the rest of the plot is dumb simple, or it could make the plot muddy.
I was worried that this movie was going to be just another take on The Wicker Man (1973) and (2006). However, other than the basic premise, this movie is nothing like Wicker Man. Wicker Man just didn't put this level of detail into the setting, and it was more of a faux murder mystery than an anthropological investigation into a cult.
I do recommend Midsommar, even if just for how fascinating the plot is. It's not a 'must watch,' it might not even make it on to my 'All Time Top Horror List,' but its pretty good for Horror Heads and general adult audiences alike.
I'm not even sure if it's a spoiler to say these characters were selected by the cult as a sacrifice. That was pretty much how the whole movie was billed, and most went into it expecting The Wicker Man (1973) at best, and The Wicker Man (2006) at worst #notthebees.
But again, the devil's in the details of this movie and the cult. The cult was just targeting the three men. Dani gets dragged in almost completely by accident, because her boyfriend bluffed and invited her along, expecting her to say no. This just showcases one of many circumstances where the male lead is a contemptible prick. He didn't want her to go, was fully intending on cheating on her while he was away. He only invited her because she recently suffered the loss of her sister, and he didn't want to look like he was abandoning her, when that was fully what he was intending on doing. His lack of emotional support just sucks Dani in because she's in a vulnerable state so she decides to join him.
I mean, can you get any more calloused? The woman's sister just killed herself AND her parents, in part because this guy was constantly driving a wedge between them. And it never occurs to him to maybe stick around or that she'd want to stay with him because she needs the support through this part of her life.
So can anyone guess how the movie ends? If you guessed the asshole boyfriend dies, you have a firm grasp on why the "asshole boyfriend" is even a trope. But they don't just make Dani some final girl, hell no, she gets crowned May Queen and joins the cult as their leader, literally selecting her asshole boyfriend as the final sacrifice. That'll fucking teach the prick.
Anyway, totally worth a watch.