A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Midsommar is an extremely violent horror movie from the maker of Hereditary. It involves a sinister, ages-old ceremony that includes disturbing rituals. Characters are beaten and smashed, and bodies are cut up and burned (in some cases, alive). A character dies via suicide, bodies splatter on the ground, gory/smashed faces are shown, a body is found hanging from the rafters with the torso torn open, a dead bear is cut open, and more. There's also a nightmare sequence, vomiting, and general screaming and arguing. There's both male and female full-frontal nudity, as well as a fairly graphic sex scene and kissing. A close-up drawing of a vagina is shown as part of a "love" ritual. Language includes several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "oh my God," and more. Characters take hallucinogenic mushrooms and are given several other kinds of mysterious drugs; some use e-cigarettes and smoke cigarettes and a pipe. Beers are shown at a party. This is a first-class entry in the horror genre, but it's very mature and isn't for young viewers. Note: This review is for the R-rated version of the film; an unrated director's cut is also available and may include additional content not covered here.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In MIDSOMMAR, Dani (Florence Pugh) suffers a terrible blow when she loses her sister and her parents in one tragic night. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), has been wanting to break up with her -- but now he doesn't have the heart. So he invites her to come along on a trip to Sweden that he's planned with his friends Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter); their other friend, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), has invited them to a special festival that's held only once every 90 years. The festival seems enchanting -- until a strange ritual shocks the Americans. Then people start disappearing, and strange potions are served. As the festival heads toward its final day, Dani finds her fate entwined with the disturbing festivities.
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Midsommar's violence. Do you think all of it is necessary to tell the story? What effect does it have? Shocking? Thrilling? Do you think that was the intent?
How does the movie depict sex? What values are imparted? How do they compare to your own?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of horror movies?
The movie seems to be talking about the value of family and community vs. being entitled and/or self-serving. Do you think it's trying to convey a specific message?
- In theaters: July 3, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: October 8, 2019
- Cast: Florence Pugh, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor
- Director: Ari Aster
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 140 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language
- Last updated: July 16, 2020
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