• Midsommar (Lionsgate) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: October 8th, 2019.
    Director: Ari Aster
    Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Will Poulter
    Year: 2019
    Purchase From Amazon

    Midsommar – Movie Review:

    Dani Ardor (Florence Pugh) has recently lost her family. Her bi-polar sister committed suicide and took her parents with her. While Dani’s relationship with boyfriend Christian Hughes (Jack Reynor) is a little rocky, he’s obviously sympathetic to her plight. When it comes out that he’s been planning a trip to Sweden with friends Josh (William Jackson Harper), Mark (Will Poulter) and Swedish exchange student Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), he brings her along.

    The flight goes fine. When they arrive on the outskirts of the tiny village Pelle was raised in, a commune called the Hårga in Hälsingland, they meet up with British students Connie (Ellora Torchia) and Simon (Archie Madekwe). Against her better judgment, Dani takes some mushrooms with the guys and they all trip out a bit over the fact that the sun hasn’t really set. Regardless, the next day, they wind up at Pelle’s village where they’re told they’ve arrived just in time for the midsummer festival, a celebration which occurs only once every ninety years.

    Things are great for the group at first. Pelle’s people are warm and welcoming, excited to share their traditions with some friends and more than accommodating. Things take a dark turn when they witness a ceremony wherein two village elders, having reached the age of seventy-two, commit suicide by jumping off of a cliff. While this is seen by the Hårgas as a natural and normal thing, the outsiders obviously don’t agree. Regardless, Pelle convinces the group to stay and both Josh and Christian wind up deciding to do their thesis work on what they’re not experiencing. As tensions arise between the group, things go from strange to stranger as the village decides that it is time to crown the May Queen…

    While Midsommar does owe a very obvious debt to Robin Hardy’s classic 1973 film The Wicker Man, it nevertheless proves to be quite effective. The film is longer than it probably needs to be but Aster does a solid job of bringing us into Dani’s head and putting her relationship, and all its obvious problems, with Christian into the center of the storyline. Yes, the gore is strong and the overall weirdness of the pagan traditions on display certainly play a huge part in the film’s effectiveness but without the relationship in the middle of all of this, the film would not have felt as grounded as it does. Thankfully, the performances in the film are good enough that we can buy into the characters. Pugh in particular is excellent here, she’s very believable in her frustration and her grief. Reynor is solid as the increasingly distant boyfriend while Harper and Poulter deliver strong work even if they have less to do. Blomgren also really stands out here, his character is unnervingly kind, almost too nice – but you can see why they’d be drawn to him the way they are, the guy is just charismatic and likeable.

    Visually, Midsommar is particularly impressive and frequently beautiful. The use of color in the picture is fantastic and the attention to detail paid to the set design and the clothing worn by the villagers really makes a big difference in how well this all works. Digital effects techniques are used rather well in the film to relay the effects of the hallucinogens used by the characters in the picture. Pay attention at a key scene and you’ll even spot a certain face in the tree line in the background. Pawel Pogorzelski’s cinematography is top-notch while the score from Bobby Krlic is effective and, at times, surprisingly understated.

    Note that Ari Aster has crafted a director’s cut that runs approximately half an hour longer than the theatrical version of the movie contained on this Blu-ray release. That director’s cut has not been included with this release.

    Midsommar – Blu-ray Review:

    Midsommar arrives on Blu-ray from Lionsgate in a 1.85.1 widescreen transfer in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc, with the feature taking up just under 42GBS of space. It is, by any standard, a beautiful transfer. So much of this film takes place outside in the daylight and features fantastic color composition – this comes through very nicely in HD. There’s very strong detail in pretty much every frame, and nice depth to the image as well. There are no noticeable compression problems to discuss and, as this was shot digitally, obviously there are no problems with any print damage either. Skin tones look great, black levels are nice and deep and overall, the picture quality is very, very strong. Still, you can’t help but wonder how much better this could have looked on a proper 4k UHD release (which we’ll probably get at some point but which has yet to be announced at the time of this writing).

    Audio chores are handled by a 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track in the film’s original English language. Optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish. Again, the disc scores very high marks in this department as well. Dialogue is crystal clear, there are no problems with any hiss or distortion and there’s a lot of range and depth here. The sound mix in this film is quite impressive and that comes through very nicely, with surround channels used very effectively throughout to help build tension and atmosphere.

    The main extra on the disc is a featurette titled Let The Festivities Begin: Manifesting Midsommar. In this twenty-five-minute piece we get interviews with Ari Aster, cast members Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Vilhelm Blomgren, Henrik Norlen, Isabelle Grill, production designer Henrik Svensson and, costume designer Andrea Flesch. It’s a good piece, more than just a fluffy EPK, that covers what it was like on set, writing the picture, getting into character, shooting in Hungary, the effects work, the costume design, the cinematography, the sets used for the film and a fair bit more.

    The disc also includes the minute-long ‘Bear In A Cage Promo’ which is kind of amusing. Aside from that we get a few trailers for other A24 releases that play before the menus load. Chapter selection is also provided on the disc. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie. Lionsgate has also provided a slip cover for this release.

    Midsommar – The Final Word:

    Midsommar is longer than it needs to be, yet somehow never dull. Aster has crafted some interesting characters and does a great job pulling them into an increasingly tense and horrific situation. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray is light on extras and contains only the theatrical cut, but it presents the movie with beautiful picture quality and excellent sound.

    Click on the images below for full sized Midsommar Blu-ray screen caps!