By Robin E. Simmons
Ari Aster’s (“Hereditary”) latest film is about a young American couple (a terrific Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor) in disintegrating relationships who take a holiday trip to a legendary Swedish midsummer festival in a picture post-card paradise that quickly becomes a nightmare when the locals not only reveal, but also perform their bloody cultic rituals.
It’s hard not to think of Robin Hardy’s superior 1973 classic “The Wicker Man” when viewing Aster’s horror sex cult fairy tale.
After the private screening I attended, there was a heated discussion about the film from the attendees. One viewer who liked Aster’s “Hereditary” was not nearly as enamored with his latest feature, calling it tedious and pretentious.
None of the attendees was able to offer a convincing argument regarding the film’s deeper meaning – if indeed it had one. One viewer considered the film provocative, brilliant and cathartic especially in the way it dealt with how religions derive their dogma.
The movie is almost two and a half hours long. The story, such as it is, could easily have been told in 90 minutes. Not sure if the film has a meta meaning or if there’s even a moral to the story other than how different cultures view and celebrate life and death. Be warned, there are moments of bloody violence that are hard to watch as well as semi-explicit and not particularly erotic sexuality.
In some ways, the film might be considered a revenge tale against a boyfriend who is detached emotionally after she suffers a horrible family tragedy. Florence Pugh is a stand out as the recovering young woman who tags along with her boyfriend and his friends to the ancient Swedish folk event.
I am interested in your reaction to this film. Please do not hesitated to share your opinions. I like hearing from readers and fellow film buffs.
NEW BLU FOR THE HOME THEATER:
ROCK PAPER SCISSORS
Luke Macfarlane, Michael Madsen and Oscar© winner Tatum O’Neal star in this horrifying take on th ehand game that pits a rehabilitatd (?) serial killer against his female neighbor. Written by Kerry & Victor Miller and directed by Tom Holland.
Released from a mental hospital, Peter (Luke Macfarlane) is haunted by memories of childhood abuse and murder victims while being menaced by the cop (Madsen) who put jim away. His only friend is pretty nighbor Monica who says she wants to interview him for a book. But does she have a much more siister motive in mind? This competent but derivative thriller is intermittently chilling. Lionsgate.
NOIR ARCHIVE 9-Film Collection #2 (1954-1956)
Stalwart noir directors and casts highlight nine more hard to find features transferred from high definition masters with correct aspect ratios. A nice volume of “noirish” B-movie transfers that look better than they probably deserve.
Films include: “Bait” (1954) directed by Hugo Haas starring Frank Love Joy, Mari Blanchard, Richard Denning; Andrew Stone’s “The Night Holds Terror” (1955) starring Jack Kelly, Hildy Parks, John Cassavetes and David Cross; “Footsteps in the Fog” (1955) directed by Arthur Lubin, starring Bill Travers, Ronald Squire, Finlay Currie, Belinda Lee’ Fred Sears’ “Cell 2455, Death Row starring William Campbell, Robert Campbell and Marian Carr; “5 Against the House” (1955) directed by Phil Karlson starring Alvy Moore, William Conrad, Kerwin Matthews; William Castle’s “New Orleans Uncensored” (1955) starring Arthur Franz, Beverly Garland, Helene Stanton; “Spin a Dark Web” (1955) directed by Vernon Sewel starring Faith Domergue , Lee Patterson, Rone Anderson, Martin Benson; Fred Sears’ “Rumble on the Docks (1956) starring Laurie Carrol, James Darren, and Michael Granger.
This is the follow-up to MVD’s “Noir Collection Vol. 1.”