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Midsommar (Blu-ray Review)

Ari Aster wound up making one of my 10 favorite films of the year last summer. This summer he’s back and he’s on course to repeat and claim an annual spot on my list. Midsommar is a step even further and one that surely weirded some people out. It’s not for everyone, but it definitely was for me. The film wound up with good reviews, nice buzz and wound up being a success at the box office. So, imagine the disappointment when the film was announced and wasn’t receiving a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release from Lionsgate. The company that gave Snitch and The Lincoln Lawyer and is giving box office disappointment Anna a 4K release. Midsommar features such as gorgeous photography (Best of the year maybe) that would have looked incredible on the format. Oh and that director’s cut we’ve heard about; iTunes exclusive. Talk about some bullshit. Yes, I’m bitter. But I’ll be happy to own this great film any way I can. You can order your copy to have when it arrives on October 8th.

Film 

After a family tragedy, a young American couple joins some friends at a midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village. What begins as a carefree summer holiday takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that grow increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing. From the visionary mind of Ari Aster (Hereditary), comes this dread-soaked cinematic fairy tale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.

Midsommar was a terrific followup for Ari Aster to his outstanding Hereditary last year. While having a feel from his directorial hand, the two couldn’t be more different movies. As no one has been shy about, one of the great factors with Midsommar is that its the brightest, lightest in terms of sunshiny days, horror movies ever made. Its a wonderful contrast to what happens on and off-screen in the film. Aster even seems to pull from and be inspired by the Suspiria remake in places, though I wanna say he was filming THIS movie when that one was released (Maybe he had some connections and saw it early).

Comparisons to The Wicker Man are fair, but this is a movie all its own. The folk-rock horror movie set in the little innocent town are things as well as secrets behind closed doors. But that’s the kind of apples and oranges stuff that someone would be trying to tell you that Psycho and Halloween are the exact same thing. It just doesn’t work that way. Aster’s film goes its own direction, has its own agenda and its own flavor. There is plenty of humor in the film. Its an interesting angle Aster has on it. Sometimes its a genuine joke or comedic scene, then there’s a discomforting giggle that can be delivered and finally, there’s the HOLY CRAP WHAT IS GOING ON HERE sort of oddity that can cause people to laugh just out of confusion and not understanding.

One of the best things about Midsommar is the photography. This movie is absolutely stunning to look at. I mentioned in my The Shining review the other day how that movie just feels huge, well Midsommar has that IT factor going for it. This movie just looks massive. There are great, innovative and effective camera movements abound. Just from the lens, this movie makes big, bold choices as well as takes some chances. It also tells its whole self visually which is a refreshing treat. And the shame of it all is going to be when the Academy Awards nominations arrive next year, that Midsommar’s name won’t be anywhere on the ballot.

I really, really want to write more or deep dive further into Midsommar, but I feel I am still soaking it up just after two views. Its a film that I think requires more studying for me and I want to see what further secrets it unlocks. I will say right away that Florence Pugh is amazing and I hope we see her lead many more movies (Horror too!) in the future. Midsommar, be warned, is not for everyone. If you’re not into weird, abstract horror movies, patient movies or ones requiring you to think a little outside the box, then maybe it’s not for you. But, I’m of the target audience and I truly loved. Hereditary or Midsommar? Why compare, both are terrific.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Midsommar, sadly, did not receive a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release. Yes, I’m constantly whining about that, but it is a BIG disappointment for me this calendar year in the realm of home video. After all, Hereditary was put on 4K UHD by the same company last year no problem. Anyway, the film does look rather terrific. It’s very bright, full of details in a very sharp and crisp image. The film has a particular scheme and it translated very well on this disc.

Depth:  This movie has some masterful photography with wonderful movements that all translates very well into this transfer, showcasing distance and swift moves with good natural confidence. No motion distortions occur at all in this image.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep, wavering between natural with a hint of a grayer tone blended in. Details are not hidden and pretty clear no matter the level of darkness (Its a rather bright movie overall). No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Midsommar has a deceptively muted look, but the blues and yellows (As well as reds when it counts) really stick out. There are a lot of whites in play here as well as the greens used on the grass and trees appearing a little faded. Said whites, however, are well saturated and quite effective in their appearance.

Flesh Tones: Great detail here.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Midsommar comes with a terrific 5.1 track, which actually works quite well through some simulated Atmos filtering on your receiver. The film’s score gets pretty heavy and loud here in the mix by design, but everything is balanced, loose and free. The track is quite loud and enhances the movie for the best viewing you could get. I’m guessing the original theatrical presentation was mixed for 5.1 or else I’d assume we’d have a true Atmos track. Then again, I also assumed this movie would get a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release. And then again, here we are.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: Drums beating, doors shutting, music stings and more provide ample bumps from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Rear channels are utilized quite well as they provide a good sense of surrounds and add to sound travel when necessary. Trippy things usually bode well for the full room experience.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Midsommar comes with the DVD edition and a digital copy of the film.

  • Let the Festivities Begin: Manifesting Midsommar (HD, 24:23) – A pretty solid “Making Of” featurette with Aster, the cast and other production folk openly discussing many angles of the film. It’s in-depth enough and makes for a solid bonus feature on a rather empty disc.
  • “Bear In A Cage” Promo (HD, 1:01)

Summary 

Midsommar is one of my favorite films of 2019, and certainly one of the best shot ones at the very least. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray release features a terrific presentation with a nice featurette on making the film. Unfortunately, we sit wondering what this release could have been, knowing Lionsgate easily hands out 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray, but passed on this one as well as knowing the film has a publicized director’s cut (Apple Movies exclusive, bleh) that could have been utilized. The film I fell in love with was the theatrical cut, so I’m whelmed with just getting it a Blu-ray release, but this is the kind of film I’m chomping at the bit for a more extensive release.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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