Family Tragedy, Cults, and Violence Against Human Heads, in Midsommar

Eat the cap, take the trip, in Ari Aster's folk-horror follow-up to 2018's Hereditary.

Ari Aster’s delirious folk-horror movie Midsommar is bound to be as divisive as his 2018 debut Hereditary was grudgingly respected — and Midsommar revisits many of Hereditary’s themes, including family tragedy, cults, iconography, the power of the unblinking gaze, and extreme violence against human heads. After the murder-suicide of her family, the understandably distraught Dani (Florence Pugh) accompanies her reluctant boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his bros Josh (The Good Place’s William Jackson Harper), Mark (Will Poulter), and Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) to Sweden, where Pelle’s family is holding a midsummer festival under the midnight sun. Also, there’s thesis drama! Midsommar demands surrendering your ego to its dream logic: How does Josh recharge his laptop? Why does nobody wear sunscreen?

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that since 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas it’s been clear the best use of CGI is to properly convey the visual distortions caused by hallucinogens, and a psilocybin trip in Midsommar’s first act would be one of the greatest ever committed to film even if it didn’t prove to be Chekhov’s Fungi, which goes off in a big way in Act III. Immersive, psychedelic menace is not the only reason Midsommar is one of the best films of 2019, but it’s up there like a sun that never sets.

Rated R. Opens Friday at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission and the AMC Dine-In Kabuki.

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