After making one of the most acclaimed horror debuts of the decade with Hereditary, writer-director Ari Aster was under major pressure to craft an equally compelling follow-up. Thankfully, Midsommar proved he was no one-hit wonder.
Is it actually a horror movie, though? Like Hereditary, there are certainly horrific elements, including some fairly intense gore. But the tone feels closer to a blend of drama and very (dark) comedy, and the mood is more unsettling than traditionally scary.
The movie stars Florence Pugh as Dani, a young American woman traumatised by a terrible family tragedy who tags along with her boyfriend to a mysterious Swedish commune in a desperate bid to save what is clearly a crumbling relationship. Once there, the cracks in their romance are intensified by the disorienting surroundings and the increasingly bizarre behaviour of their seemingly friendly Nordic hosts.
Like Toni Collette before her, Pugh was robbed of an Oscar nomination for this movie. Her performance anchors the film, a tremendous portrayal of confusion, self-doubt and raw pain that instantly announced her as an exciting new talent. She was instead nominated for her role in the more traditionally Academy-friendly Little Women, but this is the performance she’s far more likely to be remembered for.
In this week’s podcast, we break down our reactions to the movie and how it felt to revisit it after our first viewing last year. We also come up with some drinking games to help smooth over the near 3-hour runtime, take some thoughts from our listeners and pitch some unlikely sequel concepts. Oh, and John absolutely mangles the Swedish language repeatedly – so apologies in advance for that.
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Next week, we’re launching our highly-anticipated Halloween season for 2020, with a spooky comedy classic. Until then, happy listening and remember – never, ever trust a Swede.