By Megan Bianco

For those who found Hereditary too gruesome viewing last summer, I should warn you that director Ari Aster’s follow-up feature released in theaters over this holiday weekend is just as graphic. If Hereditarywas a family nightmare, Midsommar is a relationship fever dream.

After experiencing a traumatic family tragedy, college student Danielle Ardor (Florence Pugh) tags along with her flaky boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), and his friends on a month-long trip to small-town Sweden for their annual Midsommar traditions. But before heading downtown, Christian’s friend, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), convinces the group to begin the vacation visiting the commune his family resides in for a week of their own festivities. Dani thinks she’s in for a trip of homemade food and getting high until she is introduced to the stranger, cultural customs.

To no surprise, Midsommar has been getting consistent comparisons to The Wicker Man (1973). Yes, it is similar in story and theme, especially since there aren’t many films out there on pagan cults. But fortunately, the newer film lives up to the praise for the most part. Pugh continues her impressive streak of stellar performances, and Aster is now two-for-two with quality cinematic efforts. As a visual moviemaker, he has a unique style and technique that will make his work stand out opposite his peers. If there is one thing to nitpick—and most critics have made note of this already—it’s that Aster’s screenwriting leaves a tiny bit to be desired. There’s just one aspect that usually comes off as a bit cliché in the writing. But so far, Aster’s aesthetics and characters are memorable and intriguing enough to make up for it.

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