Midsommar: A Disturbing, Cathartic Tale


Darius Walters, Staff

The film Midsommar, produced by A24 (The Witch and Hereditary), is the brilliant sophomore work by director Ari Aster. His first feature-length film, Hereditary, was immediately acclaimed by critics. When another film by Aster was announced, critics and fans alike couldn’t help but to keep their eyes on this new colorful world Aster was creating. For some, this has been the most anticipated film of the summer. 

Midsommar is a movie about a young American couple, Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor). The two have a relationship on the brink of breaking up, but a family tragedy keeps them together. A `grieving Dani invites herself to join her boyfriend Christian and his friends on a trip to a midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village. What begins as an interesting and educational trip to Sweden takes a dark turn when the villagers invite their guests to participate idisturbing festivities.  

With somber themes and strangely and almost inappropriately contradicting setting, Aster describes this movie as an adult fairy tale that has a deeply emotional, tragicand cathartic journey of a bad relationship.  

The characters in the film are anthropology students who are interested in going on a trip with their friend Pelle, who is part of a commune and wants to bring his friends to study his commune’s traditions.  Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter) come along on the trip.  

The visuals in Midsommar are delight. The film’s almost overexposed and colorful visuals give off an almost technicolor appearance. The setting only helps brighten the appearance as in Hårga, it is always sunny and, as the residents say, there are two sunsOf course, sunshine isn’t always innocent.  

Similarly to HereditaryMidsommar tends to stay away from typical horror movie tropes like jump scares and overdramatic moments and tension. Instead Aster uses an interesting angle on gore and body horror, as well as heavy themes of grief and codependency. 

 Midsommar has its fair share of “That Scene” moments. Like Hereditary, Aster includes plenty of gory and visually jarring imagery. There is a scene where two elders are engaging in a ritual involving in senicide. The “in your face” gore is a visually striking contrast to the bright Swedish landscape. There is another moment during the climax of the film where the character Christian is invited to a fertility ritual to impregnate the chosen Maja. This plays out in a disturbing and strangely comedic matter. 

The journey of Dani is a turbulent one. The situation of her family keeps her feeling abandoned and clinging onto the only person she believes is there for her. This clinging is what causes her to have thoughts that she is at fault for things that Christian can’t deliver on. Throughout her journey, she realizes that Christian has little empathy for her.  

The commune shares feelings and emotions in most of their rituals, this strange amount of mass compassion is a big contrast to Dani’s life with Christian. The final decision she makes in the climax of the story makes sense and has a cathartic and long-awaited conclusion to this oddly satisfying adventure.