Sunday, 1 December 2019

EXHUMATION + Midsommar

Well, a year's flown by with no posts. I considered letting the EYE die, but my circumstances have changed, and I've found myself in a position where next year I'll have more time for this kind of thing. So why not resurrect the old corpse?

I'll kick things off with a few capsules of recent films. First, MIDSOMMAR.

Ari Aster certainly seems to be the real deal, but is he an auteur in the making, or just a very talented one trick pony? I say that because this film is so thematically similar to HEREDITARY. So far Aster’s main interest seems to be familial trauma/grief, and he has an obsession with depicting - in procedural detail - arcane ceremonies and rituals. I absolutely loved both films, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, but it’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with next.

I rewatched the theatrical cut last night on blu-ray (I'll give the director's cut a shot on my eventual third viewing), and I definitely enjoyed it more the second time around. It's so visually rich, so packed with the details of life in the commune (and little easter eggs like that foreboding bear painting in the beginning), that it begs for repeat viewings, just to pick through the sumptuous production and costume design. And I love the queasy hallucinogenic VFX, sometimes subtle, other times vividly recreating a psychedelic peak, which in the situation depicted here is a terrifying prospect.

Aster is skilled at sustaining a sense of mounting dread that lingers in the back of your mind, becoming gradually more overt and threatening as the story progresses. He also utilises shock and gore to great effect, less is more, and when it hits, it hits hard. As with his previous shocker, one thing that really made an impression on me is his perverse use of corpses. Dismembered and defiled corpses are central to the ceremonies that close both films, creating imagery that's truly gruesome and haunting.

So, what's left to say? Florence Pugh (who made a big splash in LADY MACBETH) gives it her all in winning performance; faces are destroyed beyond recognition; and Ari Aster makes peace with the painful breakup that was the catalyst for his screenplay. Just stay away from drinks with pubes and period blood in them, or you'll get burned!