Here recently, I've seen:
It was very different from Argento's version form the 70s. While not a supernatural-based neo noir Giallo slasher film, this version ditched the overly stylized elements (this is not a knock against them, they are still wonderfully over the top and beautifully exploitative in the older work and stuff similar to it) in favor of something more organic and muted looking - epsecially for the setting of the ballet school where the witches have their secret coven.
Speaking of setting, the level of world building in this version is developed on a deeper level. The film makers here very pointed display that this version of Germany is right in the midst of the the East/West Berlin Wall conflict. This serves as a metaphor as the story delves further into the internal politics of the witches (and by extension the Three Mothers who are the head witches)themselves and a kind of internal conflict going within their inner circle.
Then, the we have our young, beautiful protagonist Susie. In the original, she was played up more as standard final girl going to the school, unraveling the mystery and fighting the monster/villain, etc. It was like Rosemary's Baby meets Halloween, but far more gory. colorful and exploitative than either of those combined.
Here, Susie plays a similar role as a young dancer from America (she was American in the original as well) trying to make her mark and impress the headmistress of the school (played by the incredible Tilda Swinton, who, incredibly, plays three roles in the movie!). So, that aspect gave me vibes similar to Nina in Black Swan. So, with the school, the witches and the how's/why's of the dancing playing a critical role in the villains' goals, femininity becomes a bigger focal point compared to the original. And the horror doesn't come from being so much a slasher as much just very strange, gruesome and straight up bizarre supernatural happenings done in their own exploitative way. Plus, Susie's original actress has a surprise cameo as a separate character that's pertinent to this story, and it's amazing.
Overall, I really liked this one. It was a remake that was more like an expansive re-imagining that doesn't rely heavily upon leeching off the original for the sake of cashing in on nostalgia. It's like the took the base elements: a young American girl, dance school in Berlin, and secret coven off witches and rebuilt their own architecture for the story in a way that they could just run with it and make it a fundamentally different beast all together. Now, I should say that I never thought much of Dakota Johnson (other than being impressed that she made fun herself on SNL a few years back), but here she was pretty amazing acting wise. Same goes for Tilda Swinton, is just exquisite here.
This was a fun meta horror film. It was basically a The Last Action Hero meets Pleasantville for cheesy 80s slasher films, with the obvious satire being that of Friday the 13th with the movie within this movie being called "Camp Blood" and having death fodder characters being obvious stereotypes of the kinds of characters from those movies. There plenty of other homages to the other works within the genre and "rules" to survive. But, unlike Scream the situation the characters find themselves in is more literal as they get physically sucked into the movie. So, the rules for surviving aren't so much genre-wide, as much as they are specific to the film they're in. And they play with this quite a bit to hilarious effect, such as waiting around for 90s minutes as things go by in a loop, credits rolling as physical objects and flashbacks literally changing the world around them into black and white.
The in-movie characters are over the top caricatures and played hilariously. And the outside characters are film nerds who know the movie itself very well and trying to survive. The main crux here is that the real world protagonist had lost her mom in a car accident (which the films opens with after showing a nice, happy relationship between them). As it turns out, her mother was a scream queen and she stars in the movie that they've gone to see - it's part of this sort of film festival nerd even thing where they're celebrating the anniversary of the films. So, she gets dragged along to do a potential Q&A afterwards. But, of course, she gets sucked in with her friends. And here, she runs into "her mother" but as the character in "Camp Blood." I was surprised with how much emotion weight that carries within the film to really elevate from just being pure meta comedy to something bit more endearing.
Overall, while the film has a PG-13 rating, I still found the movie to be very funny and just a lot of fun to watch. Nothing particularly, groundbreaking, but neat all the same.
Wow. Now, I'd seen Ari Aster's previous work, Hereditary and was utterly defeated and floored by it. And, I felt that this was right in the same level with how much tension there is, the emotional intensity/dread that proliferates all throughout, as well some very, very striking imagery. Ari seems to have a lack for mixing pagan symbolism, cults and trauma in a nice diabolical blend. And he also has the capacity to shock in the sense seeing certain parts in his movies where you it back for a moment and really think "Like, wow, that is super fucked up." And, thaw as the feeling I'd walked away.
Granted, I've seen movies with a similar vibe such as Hostel, The Sacrament and The Green Inferno, but compared to those, there was a deeper level of subjectivity for the protagonist and her journey within in this situation she finds herself in...Ari pulled the same punches with Toni Colette's character in Hereditary, but the effect here is very different as is the story. All the same, A24 seems to have become this kind of powerhouse wherein they've created these consistently good movies where there's the really dark situations. And, the emotional weight on the characters becomes a central core to the drama as things go through a slow burn and gradually escalate. This can be seen with Ex Mahcina, It Comes At Night, The Witch, Hereditary and now Midsommar.
Overall, this movie defiantly leaves an impression, even if its main conceit has been done elsewhere (The could be said of Hereditary, but that's pretty much where the comparisons stop).I think for Ari, it has more to do with his style (and excellent level of research as the Nordic paganism (while still a bit of a pastiche from different eras) is accurate in its depictions of symbols, rituals and meaning. Basically, it all boils down to his approach in that a pagan cult film could've easily devolved into something more akin to a torture porn film. Which, while still fun, wouldn't necessarily have the same kind psychological punch.
One other thing I forgot to mention is that much of the plot relies heavily on the characters taking hallucinogenic drugs, and there are some very surreal looking parts that reminded me of the movie Annihilation.
"Acts of Man are greater than acts of God!"
"I'm saying that I love you."
NOT FROM EVANGELION:
"You are excrement. You can change yourself into gold."