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Review: Midsommar – Director’s Cut – “Enhanced my enjoyment of the film”

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MIDSOMMAR is such a curious little film and, thanks to US iTunes, you can rediscover it today.

If you’d asked me several months ago, I’d have said I hated it. That would be in spite of the fact I loved 90% of it. The ending, or more importantly the *tone* of the ending? Ugh. I took me right out of the movie. HEREDITARY did the same, to be fair. So maybe today’s lesson needs to be I walk out before the finale of his next film?

Because I’ll certainly be there. On Day 1, in fact. If nothing else, Ari Aster is playing in a space where no one else is. And I respect that 100%. Throw in the fact that his films have some sensational acting and it almost feels like I’m a fanboy. The Director’s Cut of MIDSOMMAR (which Aster nonchalantly pronounces as MidsomMAR), only adds to that case. I loved 95% of it.

So what’s new? And does any of it make it better?

I’d say the first hour is almost exactly the same. I’m going to watch it again later to be 100%, but I noticed three fairly major insertions.

I’m a huge fan of Director’s Cuts, and the idea of a film going through several versions is something I find fascinating. The thought of there currently being two cuts of RAMBO: LAST BLOOD out there is another good example. It all started back in the glory days of VHS when Mum and Dad would let me watch SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, only for me to one day discover the PG version was a heavily edited version of the actual 18 cut. I was stunned. They took a film that has a fairly integral, and grim, scene about rape, and just lopped it out. Managed to make it a kids film. Tone.

I’d never understood why they didn’t do that more? Sure, the BBFC rarely give out an 18 these days, anyway. I guess that means there’s less need to “bridge the gap”. But films like DEADPOOL 2 have done this expertly, recently. So much so that I actually prefer the truncated and re-arranged version.

And that’s tone again, I guess.

MIDSOMMAR’s additions don’t change the tone as such, but they definitely highlight and focus on, some much-needed motive. I would’ve kept all three changes that I spotted.

One, we get a discussion on writing dissertations, and Christian gets to give us more examples of how lazy and lame he is. Later, when he ends up… um… where he ends up, we’ve had it explained a bit more clearly that it might give him some… um… dissertation experience. It’s a better reason for the sequence of events that ends the film, in my opinion. Far better than drugs and being dazed and confused.

Should’ve kept it.

Then we get a scene that follows the cliff scene. Again, it should’ve stayed.

I’m guessing it didn’t because, unusually, it takes place at night. What we do get though is another delve into the mythology of the cult, and what other rituals they may have. This time? A debate as to whether to lob a kid in a lake. Chained up, carrying a boulder for good measure.

I like the fact Aster here explores the treatment of the many kids in the commune. But, as so much of the horror happens during the day — looking glorious on this digital release, by the way — I admire that he took it out.

Finally, there’s a scene that follows. It should’ve stayed. Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor are fabulous in this film, and it explores again the strained relationship. Teeing up Christian’s want to stay, and see through the trip, in a way I’d struggled with before. As ever with horror, at what point do you just say “no thanks”, and run for the hills?! This helps keep them there.

If you’re lucky enough to have not seen it yet, I’d go with the longer cut. 20+ minutes that all explore motivation and characterization have to be a good thing, surely? 100% for me. But I guess that depends on whether you can stomach a 3-hour film. Either way, it’s expertly crafted.

Lavish and technically excellent. Two films in, Aster is creating phenomenal female characters, both of which have absolutely owned their films.

I enjoyed it far more without the weight of expectation. I always understood what Aster was trying to achieve, I just didn’t understand why. Now, I understand a bit more of the why, it’s enhanced my enjoyment of the film.

I’d love to see a third and final cut, mind. Playing all of the last 30 with a sinister tone, and, what I’m sure would be, an even more unsettling atmosphere. As it is, MIDSOMMAR is unique. So soon after his breakthrough, it’s a bold, and confident vision. Recommended.

Finally, there’s a time-lapse video on the extras of them constructing the site. It’s 31 minutes long, but I was entranced by it. Maybe there’s something in the water. In the nicest sense, hopefully not a pube…..

Now… where’s my 4K Director’s Cut of THE ABYSS, you cowards?

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