Review: Midsummer

Classic or chliché? Boring or psychological? Those are the questions one must ask after having seen Midsummer, the Danish horror film that puts a twist on the old “teens in the woods” horror subgenre.

In order to celebrate their final exams, a group of Danish teens decides to celebrate midsummer in Sweden. They hire a cabin in the woods, bring cheap Danish beer and everything is set for skinny dipping and party games. They befriend a cute Swedish local girl, but when their car gets electrical errors and a special keyring starts to re-appear in weird places, things get spooky.

At least spooky is what the director and writer wanted things to be. Midsummer (original title; Midsommer) is a psychological horror movie about memories, guilt and blame, in the shape of an ordinary “teens in the woods” slasher flick. Not many teens actually die, but there is the standard remote backwoods village, the creepy old man, strange things happening in the forest, signs of ghosts, and what not. The idea must have been to have a psychological twist on the slasher genre, maybe Evil Dead with ghosts in stead of undead zombies. Unfortunately, the movie is so full of clichés, unused opportunities, weak tension and too slow build-up that it soon becomes evident that it’s more a snoozefest than anything else. Take for example, the extremely under-used Per Oscarsson as “creepy old man”. He’s old and got a white beard, but isn’t written into the story as menacing, or important to the story at all. He’s set up as a red herring, but ends up as a sweet grandfather who gives edible mushrooms to the teens, so they don’t have to go out and pick them themselves. Oscarsson and Tuva Novotny were probably only included to secure Swedish funding.

Even in the early 00s, Nordic mainstream horror went much further than Midsummer. It’s just that the Danish have always been unreliable when it comes to quality horror. Midsummer tries to be original by focusing on the human aspect of death, guilt and memories in stead of insane axe killers (which is why it gets an extra rating, up from one), as psychological movies have always been seen as more important and serious in Scandinavia. In stead the movie ends up as a slow paced mess where the most scary part is the 8 dollar fee you have to fork out to rent it.

Directed by Carsten Myllerup.

Rated 2 of 10.

Denmark, 2003.