Set in broad daylight, during the time of Northern Europe's midnight sun, this horror movie isn't about getting the creeps so much as it is about the slow, methodical unmasking of horrors most human. With Midsommar, writer/director Ari Aster (Hereditary) proves himself an upper-crust genre filmmaker, like Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) and Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse). He goes beyond jump scares, hauntings, and moody atmospheres into something deeper and longer-reaching. The movie, which echoes The Wicker Man but travels in its own direction, is complex enough to consider that the ages-old Swedish rituals may actually have their own kind of logic, which might be superior to the self-serving, entitled attitudes of the Western visitors.
Yet Aster is smart enough and tricky enough that he lures viewers through Midsommar's 140 minutes with effortless grace; his characters are flawed, but they're human, and they have traits that make them endearing. Their trials and thought processes have intrinsic logic, yet the locals -- clad in their white, flower-edged gowns and crowns of leaves -- are also unfailingly logical. Aster matches logic with movement as he establishes his large, haunted space and moves through it as if deep in thought. (Some of the movie's huge, deliberate movements feel like the Stanley Kubrick of The Shining.) There's no place to hide here, no place to be alone. It would follow, then, that there's no place to be caught off guard. But such an idea is deceptive. In the end, like the best monster movies, Midsommar shows that monsters lurk within all of us.