Once upon a time horror was synonymous with jump scares, screaming “don’t go down there!” at an unsuspecting idiot and numerous chase sequences that inevitably ended in a gory bloodbath of lost limbs and ominous scratch marks on basement walls to alert the next victim.
Nowadays horror as a genre is a mixed bag, what you will get when you enter the cinema is anyone’s guess.
At least with Ari Aster you know one thing, that whatever happens, you’ll feel unsettled and pretty darn confused. In this way, Midsommar is no different to Hereditary, you’re sent on a pretty linear plot journey, but it’s littered with drawn-out tense beats and the odd gory splatter to make wince.
Hereditary is a more straight forward horror in comparison to Midsommar. In some ways the dark and gloomy tone to Hereditary means you expect the jump scares and twist and turns it takes a bit more than Midsommar’s gory moments, thanks to the latter being bathed in Swedish sunlight.
Hereditary is often compared to Wicker Man, and if you think that rings true, then we warn you, Midsommar calls for that comparison even more so.
Ari Aster created a slow burn, atmospheric possession/ghost story in Hereditary, looking at gender, family and more themes than you could shake a stick at. Midsommar follows the same pattern, dealing with family and heartbreak, but it takes us from the familiar home to a foreign country with foreign customs making for a more unsettling film.
Is Midsommar scary?
Jump scares: None really.
Gory moments: About two together, followed by rapid succession, one you can prepare for and a few minor ones hinted at.
What to close your eyes for: When we get to the ‘cliff scene’ close your eyes as Dani stares down the elderly woman and keep them closed until you hear Siv pleading her case, then make sure you look away when the guy with the mallet starts walking.
Verdict: If by scary you mean deeply unsettling and tense then yes it is, if you mean in the traditional horror ‘jump scare’ and chase sequences, then no.
Midsommar relies on our fears, it deals with themes of grief, breakups, and suicide, all of which leave you unsettled, but you won’t be leaping from your seat or screaming unexpectedly. Apart from the ‘cliff scene’ we mentioned already you’re pretty safe… Unless you don’t like gore – then leave this one out because all the bodies stacking up get plenty of air time.