Midsommar, Ari Aster’s sophomore feature re-released this past weekend in select theaters with thirty minutes of additional footage. If the original cut that was released this July wasn’t uncomfortable enough for you, Midsommar’s extended cut is certainly going to provide several more moments to make audiences feel uneasy, and disgusted with themselves.
Just like the theatrical cut, Midsommar follows a group of graduate students that travel to Sweden for a festival that occurs every ninety years, but they find themselves caught in the ritualistic practices of a pagan cult. Written and directed by Aster, the film stars Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Harper, Will Poulter, and Vilhelm Blomgren. At the center of this pagan cult film are Dani (Pugh) and Christian (Reynor), two people involved in a very toxic relationship. Everything that unfolds in Midsommar feels like some weird drug trip, which is what Aster intended.
Similar to his previous hit Hereditary, Aster has written a very detailed film that requires the viewer to pay attention in order to fully understand what is occurring. The screenplay for Midsommar purposely illustrates what will unfold, but many will overlook these details until they view it for a second time. The film also gives an intense look into grief and mental instability, just like Hereditary. Dani, the film’s heroine spends most of the runtime struggling to cope with a tragic event and Christian, her uncaring boyfriend, doesn’t make the situation any better. In fact, Christian is illustrated as more of an awful boyfriend and a jerk in this extended cut. There is an additional scene in the Swedish village that showcases just how toxic Dani and Christian are for one another.
Pugh’s performance as the distraught protagonist Dani is amazing to witness, as she undergoes nearly every emotion possible until the film’s final shot. It’s made apparent early on that Dani is very clingy, and she has a bit of a history with mental issues, which are just a few reasons why Christian wants out of the relationship. Pugh perfectly embodies the pain and grief Dani is enduring, and while her co-stars do what they can, none of them stand out like Pugh. In fact, outside of Dani and Christian, most of the characters aren’t fully developed to get invested in what happens to them.
Aster has crafted a visually stunning film and this extended cut is more rewarding in many regards. Midsommar is more of a discomforting treat with this extra footage and it is still going to leave several viewers pondering on what they just witnessed. The cinematography by Pawel Pogorzelski is stellar and a visually satisfying component that brings the horrific nightmare to life. This extended cut nearly reaches three hours, but it never overstays its welcome. The pacing is very well done and every moment in this deeply dark film will have you invested in the madness unfolding.
By the time the credits roll, an emotional catharsis will come for both the viewers and Dan, as we are all finally released from our conflicting emotions. As a follow-up to Hereditary, Midsommar showcases just how talented Aster is as both a writer and director. It is apparent that he takes his work very seriously, and while this extended cut offers a lot more, many other moments Aster wanted to leave in are still missing.
Midsommar’s extended cut is just as entertaining as the previously released theatrical cut, but this version offers more context for the relationship that is going to hell between Dani and Christian. If you weren’t prepared for the bizarre activities that ensued during the first release of Midsommar than don’t expect this trip to be any different.