Up and coming director Ari Aster did a somewhat satisfactory job with his first full-length film, Hereditary, from 2018. So his second film Midsommar had promise to be a more succinct and less jumbled horror film about grief, family skeletons, and desperate measures. But instead of getting a delicious compact slice of cake, Midsommar turned out to be a 3-day-old, half-eaten Twinkie plucked out of the garbage and served on a scrap of cardboard.
An American boyfriend and girlfriend in a strained relationship travel to northern Sweden with some friends to attend a local festival commemorating the summer with dancing, dinners, lighting things on fire, and watching people fall off cliffs. People slowly start disappearing, and the festival transforms (at a glacial pace) into a ritual of death and sacrifice.
A brilliant exposition starts the film off with the leading character (Florence Pugh, Lady Macbeth, 2016) discovering a family tragedy that's filmed very gracefully with a measured dread that often marks a memorable horror film. But Midsommar is so overstuffed with so many ideas, so many subplots, and so many prolonged scenes trying to be intense, that the whole thing is a mess. Too much of a good thing proves to be a terrible esoteric pile of tire symbolism. The film felt like a rip off of the 1973 mystery film, The Wicker Man.
Ari Aster is not a director who needs more executive producers, he needs a professional restrainer.