This was me last night at midnight.
This was me last night. GABOR KOTSCHY / A24

Unlike my colleague Suzette Smith at the Portland Mercury, when I walked out of the 9:30 p.m. showing of Midsommar last night I didn't fucking trust a single thing around me. Some blonde guy held open the door for me as I made my way out. He was a murderer. During a late-night run to QFC I was suspect of the workers restocking the shelves. Were they a squad of murderers? Probably not. And yet, yes. Yes they were. The peanut grinder grinding my peanuts into nut butter was definitely a murderer. My tote bag fluttered in the breeze when I opened my apartment door and I almost called the damn police. I brushed my teeth because I always brush my teeth, but when I looked at my face in the mirror I realized that I was ALSO a murderer. FUCK.

Things I no longer trust as a result of watching this movie: IKEA, summer shandies, soft grasses, those hipster t-shirts with oversized neck holes, anthropology students, mushrooms, good light, runes. I used to love runes.

Ari Aster's film isn't even that scary. But the mechanisms he uses to produce the horror, not least of all Bobby Krlic's brain-altering score, so completely unsettled my reality that I felt freaked-out all night. I even dreamt of murder. I never dream.

To create his horror, Aster takes an Edenic meadow from an IKEA catalogue, populates it with Kinfolk models, and then runs a well-written but pretty typical cult script through it, complete with a Kool-Aid drinking scene, a weird sex scene, and a lot of ominous and yet sunny pastoralia. There's blood and gore, sure. But even the goriest moments are Instagramable.

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But he does more than just estrange the clean lines and soft petals of the Scandinavian aesthetic, which I've been brainwashed to associate with serenity. He also perverts any coping mechanism I might be able to use to shake the horror. Radical empathy in this film, for instance, serves as a way to hide the village's evil practices. Falling into the comfort of family risks deleting the individual self as much the village deletes it from the characters in this movie. Girlfriends are no-goes. Boyfriends are even worse. Mild hallucinogens? Never again! Are you kidding me??? Not after seeing Midsommar.

I couldn't even find solace in the superb acting. Jack Reynor's character reminded me so much of the guy in Kristen Roupenian's short story, "Cat Person," that I kept wanting to punch the screen every time he and his stupid beard made an appearance. Florence Pugh's warm voice helped some, but, well, never mind.

Anyhow, if you want to be terrified and overly anxious about the arbitrary nature of our cultural rituals, which include watching scary movies that reflect our world back at us (through a glass, in this case, brightly), then go see Midsommar at any time of day.

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