Remember how at the end of the
fiftieth forty-ninth anniversary SDCC overview I said the next entry would be more punctual. Whoops! No The Boys critique here! I could’ve had this up earlier had I not myopically decided readers would only be interested in SDCC. (Perhaps I shouldn’t have admitted upfront to not being present as I would’ve given essentially the same level of coverage either way.) If you skip past the movie review, at least the esoteric prediction is right.
I saw Midsommar at a weekday matinee, so I had the theater all to myself. It wasn’t soundproofed to the adjourning one playing Aladdin though. By now it’s left most theaters, but I’ll still SPOIL it for you. (Not Aladdin, the animated original should’ve done that for you already.)
Sometimes I try work in some variety into my moviegoing habits beyond blockbuster spectacle. (Do porn aficionados complain that nowadays everything has to be a superhero porn parody & the market for original pornography is drying up?) Then I pay to see something like Midsommar & realize the error of trying to change. Midsommar was overhyped. It’s not in The Wicker Man’s league. (Neither is the dour Apostle, but that seemed to have more novelty.) Ari Aster is a much better director than screenwriter. He called it “The Wizard of Oz for perverts,” which is not apt like McFarlane’s Twisted Land of Oz toys.
The prologue is the most effective part, which is radically different than the rest of the movie advertised. It’s got a wonderful aura of winter dread hanging over it. Dani is worried about an email her bipolar sister sent. It turns out the sister killed her parents & herself with comically long tubes snaking from the car exhaust in the garage into the house that undercuts the tragedy. If you’re triggered by suicide, this is not the movie for you! (This isn’t a remake of Midsummer, another horror film set in Sweden spurred by a sister’s suicide.) As realistically horrific as this is, it drags getting to the main event.
Grieving Dani (Florence Pugh is great at semi-catatonic blubbering like Ophelia) tags along with her less than besotted boyfriend & his anthropologist grad student pals to Sweden. Dani going into a dorm bathroom suddenly finds her in an airplane lavatory. The shot of the car ride to the secluded commune is flipped upside-down. Once they get to Harga, the Swedish student’s ancestral village, things crack up. (It’s actually filmed in Hungary.) There is some nice art in the backgrounds, but the rest isn’t stylish or stirring.
They’re there for the midsummer festival that happens every ninety years. We learn from an even grislier ritual suicide that the villagers take their own lives when they’re seventy-two. So none of the villagers could have attended multiple midsummer festivals to understand the operating procedure. This would make more sense if I misheard “every nineteen” years, but I did not. (A reference to the main Swede’s parents dying in a fire implies there could’ve been festivals more often, but doesn’t elaborate on why the ninety year festivals are the most important.) After drinking tea that makes her speak Swedish & winning the dance endurance contest, Dani is crowned the May Queen. This story is set during the end of June & beginning of July, making it too late to select a May Queen. How did these these very obvious errors make it into the final script?
Two of the Swedes tricked American & English friends into coming to festival. The visitors take any drugs offered to them without suspicion. This is a nefarious plot to introduce more genetic diversity into the isolated commune. Instead of orgies, however, only Dani’s boyfriend gets to mate with one villager. (Her love charm failed, so he only plowed her field in exchange for being told he can steal his hardworking friend’s dissertation.) The May Queen in July selects him to be burned alive anyway in the ritual to expiate the commune’s negative vibes. Her choice still feels passive given that her mind is still wracked by grief & assorted Swedish drugs. Although not the most obnoxious of the grad students, her boyfriend still lacks any endearing values. So his death is perfunctory rather than horrifying. We don’t even know if the conception will be successful. The rest get killed mostly offscreen to the chagrin of sadistic viewers. Why not keep all the strangers trapped there as breeding stock instead of squandering them? Surely there’s more than two seventy-two year-olds in the commune to sacrifice themselves instead? Isn’t this supposed to be a society that celebrates euthanasia? This is the most counterproductive pagan festival of renewal!
Most of the Americans are anthropologists, which seems like a clever way to incorporate worldbuilding for Harga. They bunt on this by showing ancient runes but not substantially translating them. Having a religion with a constantly expanding holy book is an intriguing idea. They’re written by deformed oracles, who are inbred specifically to be more receptive to divine messages. The current oracle’s inspiration is just messy fingepaint, however, so it seems like village elders aren’t directly interpreting their thoughts into the holy text. That could be a worthy storyline in its one right, but it’s dropped almost as soon as it’s hinted at. The oracle’s face is just malformed for a cheap shock value. He’s not actually a character. Instead of capitalizing on his unique place in their society, he’s a prop in poor taste. Remove him & nothing changes.
This was much ado about nothing. The trailers gave the impression that it’d be another film about naive kids getting killed by religious yokels, which was accurate. It was getting such rave reviews, however, I thought there must be something more to it that the advertising was holding back. There wasn’t! While it’s debatable whether subverting expectations is satisfying, being predictable can disappoint just as much. Its vilification of the bipolar & death-positive feels tacky. (Is killing grad students satire or mean spirited?) Much like It Follows & The VVitch, this is a well made horror movie that I found very overrated. There was hardly any bear in a cage! (Now I don’t feel bad about missing out on the ultra-limited replica.) I would’ve been more satisfied had I waited to borrow this from the library or watch it on Netflix. If only I’d read the abridged script sooner!
I’m still sad about Rutger Hauer’s death. It’s extra depressing that it happened mere months after Luke Perry’s passing. That’s two original Buffy The Vampire Slayer castmembers lost in a year.
DST will be producing Avatar: The Last Airbender action figures! They’re kicking off with Katara just like Mattel never did! Can they do Legend of Korra too?
Topless Robot stopped being dead? Apparently this happened last September, but I just found out about its resurrection now by accident. Not only has it eschewed The Robot’s Voice for its catchier original title, it even has a cute new logo! It seems to have pivoted to podcasts & not featuring listicles by contributors.
I found another blog with a lime background! Then they let the team down by keeping the name, Hairy Green Eyeball, but dropping the color in subsequent iterations.
Discourses in The Mary Sue and its Readership” by Sarah Lynn Dorchak Rowe for the University of Calgary cites one of my pseudonymic comments as a reference! The Mary Sue scrubbed the comments for the article from which I was cited. It wasn’t a particularly insightful quotation, so let’s presume I also made some better ones whilst I was at it.
In addition to being stinky raincoat Zeph on Killjoys, Kelly McCormack made an award winning short film with a long title, “Sir Ludwig’s DuClaudian Twins are Alive & Well and Living in the Same Building,” in forty-eight hours!
The cast of DuckTales explains the movement to storm Area 51 by Naruto-running. Della Duck’s arc was very on-point for Paget Brewster.
Behold your new sci-fi obsession!
Agents of SHIELD’s sixth season is wrapping up already? She-Ra’s “third season” is dropping too. I guess I’ll have something to say about those next time.