Metacritic score: 74
Ari Aster’s Midsommar, a confidently directed and operatic follow-up to 2018’s Hereditary, situates its tale of grief, breakups, and rites in northern Sweden, at the height of its endless sun season. It’s a smart choice for the story Aster wants to tell, in which four American graduate students accompany their Swedish friend home for midsummer celebrations, then find themselves entangled in pagan rituals that rock them to their core.
Midsommar is obsessed with the passage of time and the cycle of seasons, and the ways humans scramble to make sense of life’s big changes (like death, aging, and breakups). As it turns out, neither the modern approach of treating changes like tragedies to be mourned nor the more ancient, even pagan instinct to memorialize them with rituals and acceptance is more “civilized.” Human life is violent, nasty, and explosive. This is, after all, a horror film. It’s meant to horrify us. And there’s nothing on earth more horrifying than existence itself.