Midsommar Movie Review

Ari Aster has, as the Swedish might say, bollar. Look it up and I suspect you’ll agree. His sophomore effort Midsommar is another cult movie. I don’t mean that in the traditional sense of a picture outside the mainstream that has a devoted following, but that applies too. Aster makes stuff about actual cults and the rituals they participate in. He makes horror movies without the jump scares we’ve grown accustomed to. That applied to his debut Hereditary, which stuck with me more powerfully post credits than this did. Midsommar sometimes fails at the delicate line of laughing at it rather than being creeped out by it. I can’t help but be impressed at the filmmaker’s gusto for trying, however.

Just as in Hereditary, the storyline is focused on grief and a lead female character experiencing it. College student Dani (Florence Pugh) is dealing with a horrific tragedy involving her mentally unbalanced sister and a murder suicide that tears her world apart. Boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) seems ill equipped to console her. A mysterious trip to a remote commune in Sweden to decompress seems to be as viable a distraction as any. So off they go with Christian’s roommate Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), who grew up in the far off location. They’re joined by other flat mates Josh (William Jackson Harper), who is centering his thesis on the excursion and the constantly vaping Mark (Will Poulter), who seemingly just thinks he’s in for a fun summer getaway. Not even a little bit.

Bizarre sex, hallucinogenic drugs, and disturbing deaths involving rocks roll before our often unbelieving eyes over the next two and a half hours. That’s a lot of running time to spend with these demented country folk. Aster has no qualms about slowing things down and daring us to take it all in. The scenery is beautiful. This is a rare horror film that basks in the daylight. There’s no darkness to shroud the rather infrequent gore.

Midsommar is ultimately about Dani dealing with her stages of grief and stages of a relationship on the fritz. Pugh proves herself up to the task in displaying the range of emotions that the role requires. Reynor has to bare a lot as well, both literally and figuratively. No performance quite rises to the impeccable work of Toni Collette in Hereditary. There are sequences that do succeed in a severe sense of the heebie jeebies. Perhaps the most garishly impressive is early when we witness Dani’s family disbandment.

I suspect Midsommar will find its cult of admirers who declare it brilliant. Others will refuse to buy into what it’s selling. There are stretches where it’s a challenge to accept Dani and Christian wouldn’t have just headed for the hills when they realized what they were getting themselves involved in. I’m more middle of the road when considering its overall impact and that’s at least a couple notches below where Aster’s first cult flick grabbed my attention.

**1/2 (out of four)

July 12-14 Box Office Predictions

The newcomers this weekend are a bit low key and not your weekly dose of wannabe blockbusters as the alligator horror flick Crawl and Kumail Nanjiani/Dave Bautista action comedy Stuber debut. Neither have much of a shot of bitIng into the dominance of SpiderMan: Far From Home. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newbies here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/03/crawl-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/04/stuber-box-office-prediction/

Crawl hopes to snag a sizable portion of moviegoers who have recently feasted on shark tales. I think that’ll equate to low to mid teens and third place.

As for Stuber, its rather generic ad campaign and middling reviews may mean it struggles to hit teens. That likely means fourth place.

After a terrific start, Far From Home should easily hang onto first position. It’s worth noting that predecessor SpiderMan: Homecoming fell a steep 62% in its sophomore outing. While I don’t see this dipping that much, a drop of over 50% seems feasible.

Barring a surprising performance from the fresh players, Toy Story 4 will play in second with Yesterday rounding out the top five.

And with that, my take on the weekend ahead:

1. SpiderMan: Far From Home

Predicted Gross: $43.6 million

2. Toy Story 4

Predicted Gross: $20.7 million

3. Crawl

Predicted Gross: $14.2 million

4. Stuber

Predicted Gross: $10.8 million

5. Yesterday

Predicted Gross: $6.4 million

Box Office Results (July 57)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe ruled the long holiday weekend as SpiderMan: Far From Home kept the gravy train rolling for Disney. Since its debut on Tuesday, the sequel has made $185 million. That’s just a tad under my $190.4 million projection. For the Friday to Sunday traditional frame, it made $92.5 million. My estimate? $92.5 million!!!

Toy Story 4 was second at $33.8 million, topping my $28.9 million prediction. In ten days, the Pixar pic crossed the triple century mark at $306 million.

Yesterday displayed a sturdy hold in third with $10 million (I said $11.2 million). Total is $36 million.

Annabelle Comes Home was fourth with $9.4 million, a bit more than my $8.1 million take for $49 million overall.

I incorrectly left Aladdin outside the top five, but that’s where it was with $7.5 million. The impressive tally has risen to $320 million.

Finally, acclaimed horror entry Midsommar was sixth with $6.3 million from Friday to Sunday and $10.9 million since its Wednesday start. That’s below my respective estimates of $7.8 million and $13.2 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

 

July 5-7 Box Office Predictions

The box office could use some fireworks this weekend and they should come courtesy of the MCU with tomorrow’s release of SpiderMan: Far From Home. On Wednesday, the critically acclaimed horror pic Midsommar hits the market. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/25/spider-man-far-from-home-box-office-prediction/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/26/midsommar-box-office-prediction/

Spidey will easily dominate the long holiday weekend and I have it slinging nearly $200 million over its six-day rollout with just over $90 million of that coming in the traditional Friday to Sunday frame.

As for Midsommar, I’m a bit more skeptical that a large audience will turn up. I’m putting it at low teens for the five day period with under $10 million for the regular weekend.

Toy Story 4 should relinquish the top spot and fall to second place after two weeks in first. Yesterday, after a healthy start, should continue to ride solid word of mouth and remain in third. That would vault it over Annabelle Comes Home in its sophomore outing and that demented doll sequel is likely to duke it out with Midsommar for fourth place.

And with that, my patriotic forecast for the week ahead:

1. SpiderMan: Far From Home

Predicted Gross: $92.5 million (Friday to Sunday); $190.4 million (Tuesday to Sunday)

2. Toy Story 4

Predicted Gross: $28.9 million

3. Yesterday

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million

4. Annabelle Comes Home

Predicted Gross: $8.1 million

5. Midsommar

Predicted Gross: $7.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $13.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

Box Office Results (June 2830)

Toy Story 4 played again atop the charts with $59.7 million, in line with my $60.3 million prediction. The Pixar fourquel stands at $238 million after ten days of release.

Annabelle Comes Home opened in second and with a bit less than anticipated. The Conjuring Cinematic Universe entry took in $20.2 million from Friday to Sunday with $31.1 million since the Wednesday start. That’s less than its predecessors, but not too shabby considering the reported $30 million budget. I went higher with respective projections of $27.4 million and $38 million.

Yesterday had a rocking start in third at $17 million, blowing away my $9.1 million forecast. With a sturdy A- CinemaScore grade, I expect this to stick around for a while.

Aladdin reached the triple century mark ($306 million overall) and was fourth with $10.1 million (I said $9.7 million).

Finally, The Secret Life of Pets 2 held the five spot with $7.3 million compared to my $5.7 million prediction. Total is $131 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

2019 Midyear Oscar Report

We are officially at the midpoint of this thing called 2019 and that means a midyear Oscar report is before you today on the blog. First things first: as awards watchers already know, the bulk of the eventual nominees will come your way in the second half of the year. It will likely be festivals such as Toronto and Venice that produce their initial screenings.

We have, however, already had Cannes and Sundance producing first looks at some contenders. The most high profile is Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is out July 26 but debuted in the French Riviera. The celebrated auteur’s ninth feature immediately became a player in Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Leonardo DiCaprio (Actor), Brad Pitt (probably Supporting Actor), and Margot Robbie (Supporting Actress), as well as down the line tech races.

Cannes also served as the launching point for two contenders in the newly termed Best International Feature Film. They are Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory and Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, which won the Palme d’Or. With Glory, expect lots of chatter for its star Antonio Banderas to receive his first nod in Actor.

As for other possibilities in the lead Actor derby, we have Taron Egerton’s portrayal of Elton John in Rocketman. If Rami Malek could take home the gold last year for Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s certainly feasible that Egerton will have his supporters. Cannes also debuted  the horror pic The Lighthouse with raves for Willem Dafoe. And though it’s a reach, there could be a push for Robert Downey Jr. to garner recognition for his decade plus embodiment of Tony Stark/Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame.

When it comes to Endgame, I would anticipate talk for a Picture nod, especially after Black Panther became the first comic book pic to get one last year. At this juncture, I’ll say it gets plenty of chatter and no nomination. Yet that paradigm could shift.

Sundance gave us the true life political drama The Report. That pic features both Adam Driver and Annette Bening in roles that drew acclaim. It’s out stateside in late September and is one to keep an eye on.

2019 has produced numerous female lead performances that could all be classified as dark horse contenders. The list includes Lupita Nyong’o (Us), Julianne Moore (Gloria Bell), Awkwafina (The Farewell), Elisabeth Moss (Her Smell), Elle Fanning (Teen Spirit), Florence Pugh (Midsommar), and Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose).

Despite its disappointing box office grosses, Olivia Wilde’s coming of age comedy Booksmart might be considered in Original Screenplay. Same goes for The Farewell ahead of its release in a couple weeks.

For Best Animated Feature, Toy Story 4 looks to be a slam dunk for a nomination and that also holds true for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Already released titles such as Missing Link and The Secret Life of Pets 2 are likely on the outside looking in.

As for documentaries, keep an eye on Apollo 11, The Biggest Little Farm, and Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese. I would say Apollo is a strong contender for inclusion.

And that’s your report, ladies and gentlemen! Get ready for a whole bunch of Oscar speculation in the second half of the year…

Midsommar Box Office Prediction

Arriving smack dab in Hollywood’s version of midsummer is Ari Aster’s Midsommar next week. The horror pic is the filmmaker’s sophomore effort after his critically acclaimed debut Hereditary from last summer. Centered around a pair of couples who attend a mysterious Swedish festival that occurs every 90 years, the creepy flick stars Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, and Will Poulter.

Like Hereditary, Aster’s follow-up has garnered strong critical reaction with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 96%. Last June, Hereditary started off with $13.5 million with an eventual $44 million domestic gross. Reviewers liked it more than audiences did and word of mouth suggests that could apply to Midsommar.

It’s out on Wednesday to capitalize on the long July 4th holiday frame. A potential comp could be 2014’s Deliver Us From Evil, another scary title that opened over the same weekend. Evil took in nearly $10 million for the traditional Friday to Sunday period with $15 million when adding Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll say Midsommar falls a bit under those numbers.

Midsommar opening weekend prediction: $7.8 million (Friday to Sunday); $13.2 million (Wednesday to Sunday)

For my SpiderMan: Far From Home prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/06/25/spider-man-far-from-home-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Midsommar

Midsommar is director Ari Aster’s eagerly awaited follow-up to his acclaimed debut Hereditary from last year. The filmmaker stays in the horror genre for this tale of two couples visiting a mysterious Swedish festival that only occurs every 90 years. Cult like scares follow.

The pic has screened ahead of its July 5 stateside bow and critics are once again singing Aster’s praises. It stands at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, while some reviews point out audience reaction could be quite mixed (like his first effort).

This particular genre is usually ignored by Oscar voters. A groundswell of support began to gather in 2018 for Toni Collette’s lead role in Hereditary. The female lead here, Florence Pugh, has also gotten raves for her work. Yet if Collette couldn’t get in, it probably doesn’t bode well for this lead actress. Furthermore, Lupita Nyong’o could garner attention for her work earlier in 2019 for Jordan Peele’s sophomore flick Us.

Bottom line: if Hereditary couldn’t get on the Academy’s radar, don’t expect Midsommar to do so. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…