Movies

Now showing in Taos: ‘Midsommar’

Horror movie from ‘Hereditary’ director offers deeper more cerebral scares

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 7/7/19

Writer-director Ari Aster has made quite a name for himself in a short amount of time for twisting the horror genre on its head. First with the unnerving “Hereditary” ...

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Movies

Now showing in Taos: ‘Midsommar’

Horror movie from ‘Hereditary’ director offers deeper more cerebral scares

Posted

Writer-director Ari Aster has made quite a name for himself in a short amount of time for twisting the horror genre on its head. First with the unnerving “Hereditary” (2018) and now with “Midsommar,” which cranks up your unsettlement level to 11, he joins Jordan Peel as a modern master of the scare-the-crap-out-of-you club.

With “Midsommar,” Aster takes his audience on a very strange journey into a place that we are not only unfamiliar with, but where things take place that are a constant and often disturbing mystery. It is also, like “Hereditary,” an exploration of grief and the way it flavors all that comes after it.

The film focuses primarily on a young woman named Dani (Florence Pugh), who is in the throes of emotional pain after her mentally ill sister has committed suicide while also taking her parents with her. Dani is also in the midst of a crisis with her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor), who is becoming more distant due to Dani’s reaction to her loss. When Christian is offered a chance to attend a one-of-a-kind festival in Sweden with his pals, he begrudgingly asks Dani to come along.

The festival takes place in the brightest place on earth, literally. The sun shines almost constantly on this extremely isolated village, with only a slight dimming for a short time at the peak of night. Christian’s friend, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), grew up there. His parents died tragically when he was a child and was taken in by the villagers who provided him with the emotional support he needed to get through it, something he tries to impress upon Dani.

When we first glimpse the village and its inhabitants, it looks like some kind of New Age encampment. Everyone is dressed in white and has open, fresh and welcoming expressions. For the Americans who arrive, there is clearly a large contrast to be overcome. The festival is planned to take place over nine days and only happens every 90 years, so there is a special loving quality that permeates the atmosphere. But, all is not what they assume.

One of the first things that happens when Dani and her group arrives is that Pelle introduces them to the younger ones of the village who begin their part of the celebration by ingesting psychedelic mushrooms. While sitting on a hillside, Dani looks down and hallucinates grass growing through her hand. This presages a possible fated encounter.

One of the things to watch for as the group becomes more familiar with what’s happening around them is to take a good look at the folk art images displayed on the interior walls of the buildings and especially an embroidered blanket. This provides a virtual road map for what’s to come.

As the movie unspools, it offers one creepy revelation after another, not only for the protagonists but the implications of what is about to be asked of them. You can apply what you might know of these kinds of cultural rituals, but Aster is savvy enough to feed it through a filter of twisted design and a clear intention to get under your skin. On that score, he is very successful. Be prepared to be scared. Big time.

Tempo grade: A

“Midsommar” is rated R for disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

The Biggest Little Farm

MPAA rating: PG for mild thematic elements.

Taos Community Auditorium

A testament to the immense complexity of nature, this self-made documentary follows two dreamers and a dog on an odyssey to bring harmony to both their lives and the land. When the barking of their beloved dog Todd leads to an eviction notice from their tiny Los Angeles apartment, John and Molly Chester make a choice that takes them out of the city and onto 200 acres in the foothills of Ventura County, naively endeavoring to build one of the most diverse farms of its kind in complete coexistence with nature.

The land they've chosen, however, is utterly depleted of nutrients and suffering from a brutal drought. The film chronicles eight years of daunting work and outsize idealism as they attempt to create the utopia they seek, planting 10,000 orchard trees and over 200 different crops, and bringing in animals of every kind — including an unforgettable pig named Emma and her best friend, Greasy the rooster.

When the farm's ecosystem finally begins to reawaken, so does the Chesters' hope — but as their plan to create perfect harmony takes a series of wild turns, they realize that to survive they will have to reach a far greater understanding of the intricacies and wisdom of nature, and of life itself.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (July 7) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (July 8-10) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

At the outset, the new Spider-Man movie acknowledges the cataclysmic events of the Avengers’ “Infinity Wars” — which (spoiler alert) dealt with half the population of the universe disappearing — and “Endgame” when, five years later, they put things right again at great cost.

In Spidey’s world, this incident became known as “The Blip.” Those lost five years meant the people who came back had not aged, and so relationships, marriages, businesses, finances, government, everything took a hit because it. For Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), it means (spoiler alert, again) he still mourns the death of Tony Stark/Iron Man, his mentor. Despite the fact that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) of S.H.I.E.L.D. want to re-form The Avengers with Spider-Man, Peter Parker, the teenager, just wants to pursue a romantic relationship with M.J. (Zendaya) if he can ever find a place or time to be alone with her. That might finally happen when Peter signs-onto a class trip that will take him — and M.J. — to Europe.

This also coincides with the latest super-villain threat and Nick’s urgency to get Spider-Man involved to help fight it. Helping the effort is a new ally named Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), who claims to be from an alternate universe in which the earth was destroyed by the evil super villain.

Where this movie falls off the rails is in spending a lot of time on Peter’s comic misadventures trying to get M.J. alone so he can express his feelings for her and on playing cute with the plot twist you can see a mile off involving Quentin Beck. Unfortunately, the same fate that befell the last X-Men movie may hit this one due either to super-hero fatigue on the part of audiences or the inability of Marvel to come up with interesting stories worthy of their attention.

Personally, the animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” now playing on Netflix, is still my favorite so far. Stay put at the end for two end-credit scenes that changes what you’ve just seen by quite a bit.

Tempo grade: C-

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Comments


Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.