For patient horror fans, ‘Midsommar’ pays off

After a slow build, the weird new nightmare from the director of ‘Hereditary’ gets wonderfully twisted toward the end.

SHARE For patient horror fans, ‘Midsommar’ pays off

Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren, center right, in traditional attire) invites American friends including Christian (Jack Reynor) to spend a month in his weird Swedish home village in “Midsommar.”


Wait for it.

Wait … for … it.

Sorry — can you wait just a little bit longer? Here comes the madness, it’s just around the corner, I swear!

Clocking in at a bloated 2 hours and 20 minutes and featuring a VERY slow build before we get to the good stuff, the gorgeous and weird and ludicrous horror film “Midsommar” tests our patience more than once before delivering some seriously grisly and wonderfully twisted material in the final act.



A24 presents a film written and directed by Ari Aster. Rated R (for disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language). Running time: 140 minutes. Opens Tuesday at local theaters.

On the heels of last year’s instant horror classic “Hereditary,” the blazingly talented writer-director Ari Aster again delivers some dazzling and arresting and truly disturbing visuals, even though some of the themes he explores and the big set pieces in the last few scenes feel a bit repetitive and derivative this time around.

“Midsommar” is a nightmare taking place mostly in the light of day, i.e., a remote village in the Swedish countryside where the sun rises before 4 a.m. and sets after 10 p.m.

Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), a grad student from Sweden, has invited his American roommates to spend a month with him in his home village — a self-sustaining community where everyone dresses in white and displays cultish loyalty to the rules, and many of the libations seem to contain magical powers, and oh yeah, there’s a bear in a cage nobody talks about.

The roster of American guests includes Christian (Jack Reynor), a self-centered charmer; Josh (William Jackson Harper), an ambitious academic, and Mark (Will Poulter), a leering womanizer who just wants to get high and get lucky.

Also along for the trip: Christian’s girlfriend Dani (Florence Pugh), who accepted Christian’s invitation to join the group — much to Christian’s chagrin, because he didn’t really mean it, even though Dani has recently experienced an unspeakable family trauma and needs Christian now more than ever.

Christian: He’s the WORST. It’s even possible “Midsommar” could become some sort of metaphor about the destruction of a relationship.

Pelle’s extended family greets the American visitors with open arms, welcomes them to the community and sets them up with accommodations in a super-cute bed-and-breakfast type barn, so what’s to worry about?

Well. Judging by all those intricate carvings in the walls and the ceilings, and the wide-eyed weirdness of just about everyone who lives in this isolated community — there’s LOTS to worry about.

The American guests are smart and savvy — and in the case of at least one student, well-versed in the history of the pagan-like rituals taking place in the village.

They’re also idiots, just as dumb and dopey as the typical collection of clueless morons in the woods in a sub-standard slasher movie.

Let’s put it this way: If you don’t pack up your s--- and run for the hills after the first indication the whole “Peace and Love, Peace and Love” façade is utter and complete nonsense, you’re on your own.

Even as writer-director Aster creates an ever-more elaborate, ever-more grotesque puppet show, including one of the most insanely graphic group sex scenes in modern motion picture history, “Midsommar” is at heart the story of relationship gone wrong — and the guy who could have prevented so much collateral damage if only he had the courage to come clean and end things. (Kudos to Jack Reynor, who looks more than a little like a slimmed-down Seth Rogen, for his funny and empathetic work as Christian, aka Bad Boyfriend.)

Florence Pugh, who killed as the WWE wrestler Paige in “Fighting with My Family” earlier this year, is even more impressive in this movie as Dani, who has put up with all kinds of s--- from her boyfriend.

Until now.

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