Many movies have cemented their place in history because of their profound themes or unique visual storytelling. Many people claimed that Midsommar was one of these movies, so I decided that I had to watch it. Upon viewing the movie, I realized that it was very much not worth its popularity or status as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Midsommar showed some promise; the first half of the film was thrilling, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat, excited for the next twist or shocker. The movie was perfect until its halfway point, and things turned for one specific reason: unresolved build up.
So far, the movie relied on underlying conflict that builds and bursts out in small amounts, leaving the viewer relieved but not quite satisfied (satisfaction in this movie’s sense is being left disturbed or horrified). Midsommar follows Dani, her boyfriend, Christian, and his two friends, Mark and Josh. They are all invited to go to Sweden by their other friend, Pelle. The first act of the movie consists of giving the audience the background to Dani’s personal struggles, and establishes her relationship with Christian. The rest of the act consists of them travelling to Pelle’s village. This act plants the seeds of doubt, pain, and confusion that the second act explores quite well.
In the second act, the rift between Dani’s and Christain’s relationship is revealed by the way they perceive the events around them. Dani finally notices Christian’s boring personality, his lack of a moral compass, and his absence of emotions. She realizes he is disloyal to her and everyone else. Dani confronts him at mealtime in a scene where she speculates that he would abandon her in the village without hesitation, but he makes a face and just continues eating. The seeds of doubt have sprouted, and Dani becomes much more critical of Christian’s actions. Dani is not the only character Christian shows disloyalty towards. There is also Josh, who comes to Sweden because he is writing his thesis on the Midsommar traditions. Christian, who has no idea what he wants to write his thesis on, decides to steal Josh’s idea, claiming they should “collaborate,” which is ridiculous because he was never interested in the topic before. Apart from the growing conflicts between the Americans, no one in the village is truly concerning themselves with the visitors; even as one person brought into the village to observe the Midsommar goes missing, the only one who seems concerned is Dani, which frustrates her. This builds the tension between the group members and the Swedish villagers.
The third act is where things fall short. Up until this moment, the movie has a perfect build up; the tension between characters is palpable. While Dani is participating in the May Queen dance, Christian chooses to mate with one of the female villagers. After Dani is crowned May Queen, she sees his infidelity, and has a breakdown. Dani is carried off by the other women of the village to the building where they all sleep. Dani is sobbing, devastated. The villagers start sobbing with Dani, sharing her pain amongst them (this is my favorite scene in the entire movie), which leaves the audience in shock, on the edge of their seats waiting for what will happen next. What happens next though is cliché horror, and the treachery of the village is revealed: they are sacrificing nine human lives to appease their pagan gods. The “twist” is that since Dani became May Queen, she gets to decide who the last sacrifice will be. She chooses Christian, and after everything he has done to her, it makes sense. Christian, true to form, shows absolutely no emotion, even when he’s wearing the skin of a bear, being burned alive.
The end of the movie left me feeling disappointed. Although I understand how this could be seen as a “happy ending” for Dani, it only showed that she has left one abusive relationship to become the aggressor. Dani’s development was fully defined by her relationship with Christian. I watched the last scenes waiting for the final breakthrough. However, it never came. Dani never confronts Christian for how he mistreated and dismissed her; she just has him killed. She isn’t even shown making the decision, the audience only watches the aftermath of it. Dani’s freedom from Christian is so rushed you can’t enjoy it, especially since the movie has a very gradual build up, and the rushed ending leaves the audience dissatisfied and disappointed.