Release Date: July 3, 2019
Director: Ari Aster
It’s hard to spoil this movie, since it’s pretty obvious that when American college students go to a remote village in Sweden to observe a folk ritual that very bad things are going to happen. Nevertheless, I’m glad I went into this movie mostly blind. Dani Ardor (Florence Pugh) joins her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and several of his friends on the trip to the Hårga commune as she deals with the grief of a traumatic event in her family. Swedish student Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) invites them all to observe a ritual that happens only once every 90 years, and Josh (William Jackson Harper) plans to observe it for his anthropology dissertation.
It doesn’t take long for things to start going weird in Hårga, but nevertheless the movie is a slow burn and really earns its long running time. It’s also unique for a horror film in that it’s almost entirely set in broad daylight with lots of bright colors. Like any good horror film, it’s about more than just jump scares, with the horrific events serving as metaphors for the collapse of Dani and Christian relationships. I also think there’s a commentary on American exceptionalism as the students go into the rituals expecting to just observe without affecting them.
This is a powerful film and I will be thinking about it for some time. I expect I will need to rewatch at some point as well. Even if you don’t typically like horror, this is an excellent film worth checking out.