Many people are scared of the dark, but what they should really fear is what lies in broad daylight.
Ari Aster brought his horror chops back to the big screen with his sophomore film, "Midsommar." Recently, production company A24 brought Aster's 147-minute-long director's cut of the film to theaters.
"Midsommar" follows a group of friends who embark on a vacation to a mysterious Midsummer festival in Sweden. Unbeknownst to them, the lush foliage and smiling villagers are harboring a much darker secret. Aster masterfully directs this rendition of his sun-soaked nightmare with the addition of extra character moments, comedy and unsettling rituals.
Florence Pugh upholds the film as Dani. Pugh injects pure heartbreak and distress into her portrayal and delivers lines with a calming ease and nuance. Her differing facial movements convey her thoughts without the usage of dialogue, making for verypowerful moments.
Jack Reynor amps up the douchiness as Christian, with unenthusiastic gestures and an oblivious attitude throughout the course of the film. Pugh and Reynor have a frustrating chemistry that amplifies the incompatibility of the two lovers. Several additional scenes in this cut help to showcase their rocky relationship, adding more reasons to despise Christian.
William Jackson Harper's Josh constantly butts heads with Christian as they both struggle to complete the same thesis project about the mysterious festival in several dialogue scenes added in this cut.
Will Poulter offers a comedic charm as Mark, someone who is certainly given more time to shine in this cut of the film. His juvenile attitude serves as a vessel for the audience to poke fun at the extremity of the situation.
As the main characters integrate themselves into the way of life of the villagers in Sweden, they, as well as the audience, are constantly being convinced to stay despite the unusual, and sometimes morbid, rituals. The villagers act as if things are running as normal and often show shades of positive morality — including a director's cut scene that features the villagers voicing out against something horrible — thus creating an unsettling contrast with the more extreme events in the film.
The general plot features a dense exploration of grief and toxic relationships, all while being wrapped in a terrifying folk horror package. Pugh's Dani internally deals with the grief of a family tragedy and the lack of faith she has in her relationship with Christian. By attending the strange and unusual Midsummer festival, she encounters an elevated version of family. This is a great parallel to Dani's internal struggle and helps to drive her character arch throughout her integration into the village.
Bobby Krlic's score elevates the beautiful scenery and terrifying events within "Midsommar." Flute based tracks mesh well with the vast grasslands and grand rituals performed by the villagers. The final track pulls out all the stops as a mesmerizing grand symphony of strings morbidly contrasts with the visuals on screen.
The director's cut of "Midsommar" not only solidifies the relationships of its characters to a greater extent, but also establishes more of a twisted morality to the world of "Midsommar." Overall, this cut lets viewers get acquainted with the mysterious events in the film and reside with its characters for a bit longer before the real terror begins.