Midsommar (2019)

R   |    |  Drama, Horror, Mystery


Midsommar (2019) Poster

A couple travels to Scandinavia to visit a rural hometown's fabled Swedish mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.


7.1/10
223,206

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'Midsommar' Director Breaks Down the Trailer

Writer/director Ari Aster breaks down genre expectations, The Wicker Man influences, and how he wants audiences to feel after his "break-up film," Midsommar.

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10 July 2019 | Lepidopterous_
9
| An Operatic Catharsis On Emotional Dependency
"I have always felt held. By a family... a real family. Do you feel held?"

One of the most universal and innately human desires is a sense of belonging. The human brain is not meant to be alone; we are evolved to be a part of something. Belonging fundamentally allows us to form our own sense of identity, establish social connections through community, and provides us with love, attention, security, and purpose. Perhaps more importantly, a lack of belonging is when we begin to lose sense of ourselves and who we are. This loss of touch with who we are when the world around us suddenly disappears... this slight loss of footing, dip in reality, always feeling somewhat displaced and perpetually unsettled... this encapsulates the mood of Ari Aster's Midsommar.

Aster has delivered a psychedelic genre-defying horror fable that wins its audience by creeping into our darkest corners of angst, longing, and loneliness. At its core, the film is about a young woman who copes with crippling anxiety rooted in a desperate and fearful need for love as she comes to terms with the end of a relationship. It's about anxiety, fear of abandonment, and moving on. It is a meditation on human belonging; an operatic catharsis played on the strings of emotional dependency; a journey both inward and outward, to finally let go of something that was never meant to be.

Midsommar is not a mystery or suspense movie. It unveils itself unapologetically, as if the filmmaker has no intention of hiding anything from us in the first place (the entire movie is visually depicted almost constantly in the background on walls or tapestries). Yet the film establishes its own rhythm and pacing. As the characters embark on a mushroom trip and grow weightless and spacey, so do we get entranced by the beautiful Swedish settings and sounds-at times indistinguishable from flutes being played by characters on-screen, and at other times, woven with a spell-binding aural hypnosis (listen to "Attestupan" without falling into a meditative trip).

Like Hereditary before it, the casting is exceptional. Florence Pugh portrays and embodies isolation and anxiety so effectively that the ideas feel nearly concrete. Her part as Dani demands an incredible range and her commitment to the role is apparent. Her character has an air of desperation to her. A perfect casting for a lonely soul. Jack Reynor, a critical piece to this opera as the unlikeable and detached boyfriend, also delivers in a solid performance that leaves us conflicted, or at the very least, challenged.

If Satan and Cannibal Corpse got together to shoot Blue Valentine in Sweden, I'd imagine it would be something like Midsommar. Aster taps into a dark and vulnerable place-he opens the door to chests you may have locked away and have had no intention of coming back to. If you've gone through a break-up recently, it may resonate even stronger. It's uncomfortable, unpleasant, but ultimately, cathartic.

The director goes on to describe the film as almost a perverse wish-fulfillment fantasy. You see what you want to see. The inclusion of this overarching idea bears a universal relevance to how we can behave in the midst of the most toxic relationships. Entering the ethereal fog of Hårga perhaps a metaphor for willfully indulging in our clouded judgment to escape our fears.

If Hereditary was a thematic exploration of inescapable fate, Midsommar is a tighter, more centered thematic reflection on emotional dependence. The thought given to the characters and script and the details within the various shots, symbols, and sounds will all surely leave many viewers coming back for more.

Plan to watch it twice, if for nothing else, to drink the tea again.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ari Aster's visual references for his Scandinavian folk horror are Black Narcissus (1947), Hard to Be a God (2013), Macbeth (1971), and Tess (1979).


Quotes

Arne: No. No, no. Uh Ruben was - a product of inbreeding. All of our oracles are deliberate products of inbreeding.


Goofs

The Americans react to the sun being up late at night. The sun doesn't set until after 10:30 PM in the area around midsummer, but the lack of long shadows reveals that the scene does not take place in the late evening at 61° North (where the story takes place) but rather around noon at 47° North (Hungary, where the supposed Swedish scenes are actually filmed).


Alternate Versions

The 171-minute director's cut restores nearly 24 minutes of additional scenes that were not included in the original cut. This version adds more graphic violence and extends many preexisting scenes. The biggest chunk of new footage added, as director Ari Aster acknowledges, is the subplot of Christian researching for his anthropology thesis. The newly added footage is as follows:

  • (1) In the party scene, Dani learns of the scheduled trip to Sweden and questions Christian's intentions. Christian gaslights (suggesting that she was not in her right state of mind) her after she had indirectly ruined the surprise of a romantic invite. The gaslight moment is repeated again in the final additional scene later after the special ceremony. This new scene also shows that he is ill-prepared, which sets up his confrontation with Mark later.
  • (2) In the extended the car ride to Halsingland, Dani asks Josh about the book he's reading and she's told to ask Pelle. Pelle tells her that Christian was brainwashed when he found him. This hints the characteristics of the characters throughout the film: Mark (going along for the ride); Dani (tired and depressed); Pelle (manipulative and the mastermind of the secret plan); Josh (passive); and Christian (naive).
  • (3) The subplot of Christian's anthropological research is put back and is evident in several scenes of him interacting with Pelle's commune. The subplot reveals two things: Pelle and his commune are well aware from the beginning that he can be easily be manipulated, proven by Maja's attempt to seduce him and his grisly fate at the end; it also reveals that his research is merely a self-serving and misguided attempt to make himself better.
  • (4) After the ritual suicide of the two 72-year-old natives (as to mark the end of the circle of life), Dani is invited to see a special ceremony of a young boy, dressed as tree, volunteered for another ritual. Declaring himself "what's brave is going home" the boy is about to be thrown into a body of water, which horrifies her again. At the last minute, he is let go, having proved his bravery.
  • (5) Immediately after the "special scene", Dani converses with Christian about what she saw. Christian, too focused on his anthropological research, gaslights her again. Soon thereafter, she asks for a sleeping pill before he is targeted by the natives.


Soundtracks

The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)
Performed by
Frankie Valli
Written by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe
Published by Seasons Four Music (BMI) and EMI Longitude Music (BMI)
Courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company / The Four Seasons Partnership
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Horror | Mystery | Thriller

Details

Release Date:

3 July 2019

Language

English, Swedish


Country of Origin

USA, Sweden

Filming Locations

Budapest, Hungary

Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,560,030 7 July 2019

Gross USA:

$27,426,361

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$47,980,982

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