Okay, let’s just get this one out there. This movie has, by far, the most divisive opinions. Ever since I’ve seen it, I feel like so many people are not only angry about it, but are downright mad at me for liking it as much as I do. But I say bring it on. The second pick of movies that affected me in the last year is Midsommar. Midsommar will mess you up. It’s only Ari Aster’s second movie, and to me, already cemented him as a masterful filmmaker. When you come out of the gate with Hereditary as your first film, there’s a damn high bar that will difficult to reach again. What did he do? Something completely different. The thing I hear from people all the time is, “Midsommar’s not a horror movie.” Man oh man, I hate that statement, because what is horror exactly? Horror is different from person to person. UGH. Anyway, I’m not going to fully get into that debate right now because it’s truly a weeklong discussion. But here’s what I’ll say. If you want me to agree with your, “this isn’t a horror movie” point, then fine. This isn’t a horror movie. This is a DREAD movie. This movie is all about dread. It’s not about what’s going to happen. We all as an audience pretty much know what’s going to happen (we’ve all seen Wicker Man). It’s more about the how and why it’s happening. In a nutshell, Midsommar focuses on a group of college kids that are invited to a festival in Sweden, held by a secluded cultish community, that only takes place every 90 years. While there, various odd occurrences and rituals add up, building a mystery that eventually unveils itself in horrific ways. This film is all about testing the audiences nerve, and making them feel the same insane emotions that the characters are. That’s why a lot of people don’t like this movie. Emotions are scary. This movie is ALL about emotion — using the characters to make the audience reflect on themselves. Ari himself explained this movie as a “breakup movie” and how it feels to actually go through the breakup of a relationship, which is something the main two characters are going through. And I love that. You will connect so many small personal dots within a large, truly insane, world. There are so many small and careful touches that even though the film is lengthy, it requires a second viewing (pay attention to the game the children are playing early on… it’s called “Skin the Fool”. Hmm…) Speaking of emotions, there are moments that are so absurd that you will laugh out loud. Actual comedic touches that I believe were put there on purpose to unnerve you even more. You’re laughing at something so funny, then you realize the situation of which you’re laughing at, and suddenly you feel icky about it. That, in essence, is Midsommar. It’s not comfortable. It’s not easy. It’s at times repulsive (beware of a few moments of extreme violence that had our theater groaning.) But I didn’t stop thinking about this movie for weeks after I saw it. You won’t forget it. THAT, is the ultimate success for a filmmaker. Half of you will agree. Half will not. But you will always find that with a film that actually tries to do something unique. Kudos to Ari Aster for a masterful sophomore effort.