“Midsommar” a horror holiday


Adrian Klein

The movie “Midsommar”, written and directed by Ari Aster, centers around a group of friends in their early twenties and the girlfriend of one, with her being the protagonist. The message of the movie has to do with long-held cultish traditions of a Swedish commune. Aster made a name for himself after the release of the movie “Hereditary” in 2018, which he also wrote
and directed. Similar to the first film, “Midsommar”
is filled with foreshadowing and hidden messages as both include cults of sorts who plan the events of the movie out long before the events take place. This lends the movie to rewatches in order to pick up on them.
The movie opens with a mural that depicts cryptic and colorful drawings, including ancient runes, people dancing, and all four seasons. This mural paints out the entire story of the movie without giving away what happens, making it a cool metaphorical easter egg for people
who decide to watch the movie again. The first events of the movie take place in the winter, as Dani, the protagonist of the film, is phoning her detached and distant boyfriend, Christian, because her sister sent an email ending with “Goodbye” and isn’t replying to any of Dani’s emails.
Christian, however, is planning on breaking up with Dani as he discusses things with his friends, Mark, Josh, and Pelle. As the guys talk about it, Christian gets a call from Dani, who just discovered that her sister killed herself and their parents, making Dani an orphan and causing Christian to stay with her. At a party, Dani finds out about the guys’ plan to visit Pelle’s family
in Sweden who live on a commune and will be celebrating their Midsommar Festival. Dani is first upset with Christian but decides that she will go too, much to the chagrin of Christian’s friends. Once they arrive, they quickly become disoriented with the commune’s traditions which include psychedelics. As the group observes the commune’s gruesome traditions which honor
the circle of life, which they have compared to the seasons, they’re picked apart due to greed, fate, lust, or disrespect of the traditions and it doesn’t take long for them to discover that this Swedish village is not what they first appeared to be.
There are five primary characters in the film. The protagonist, Dani, is played by Florence Pugh. Due to her family’s death at the beginning of the movie, she’s emotionally distraught and in shambles. But because of her acceptance by the cult, who Pelle reminds her is “family,” she quickly becomes a very strong protagonist. Christian, Dani’s boyfriend, is played by Irish actor Jack Reynor. Christian is shown as being very distant and unhappy in his
relationship with Dani as he discusses his plans of breaking up with her, doesn’t tell her about the trip to Sweden, forgets her birthday, and begins to fall for Pelle’s sister in the commune. By the end of the movie, karma takes its toll and he gets what he put into the relationship.
Pelle,Josh, and Mark are Christian’s three friends that each provide something to the film. Pelle was born and raised in the commune where they plan to go, Josh is writing his thesis on the Midsommar tradition held by some European cultures, and Mark provides the comic relief. The two latter characters both experience their own unwise moves that lead to the unfortunate
progressions of their characters.
The cinematography of the movie was done by Pawel Pogorzelski, the cinematographer for Aster’s prior film “Hereditary.”  Where it was very dark and used mainly cool colors, “Midsommar” is very bright and colorful because of its setting, where the days are nearly 24 hours long.
The editor of the movie was Lucian Johnston, another “Hereditary”
veteran of sorts. The editing style seems somewhat traditional, except for the immediate cuts to sometimes gruesome shots. The special effects in this movie are primarily gore and psychedelics, both of which are very frequent. The warping of the screen when psychedelics are ingested by characters gives an
unsettling feeling while the gore does what it needs to do.
The soundtrack was composed by electronic musician Bobby Krlic, whose stage name is The Haxan Cloak. The ambient and pressing background music mixed with the occasional beautiful singing of the Swedish people provides a contrast that pairs well with the contrast of horror and bright colors.
As stated before, the theme of the movie has a lot to do with long-held traditions within groups and how others from the outside see them. This is blatantly pointed out in a scene where a pair of elders, who both turned 72, celebrate death by throwing themselves off of a cliff in front
of the rest of the village. As the main characters watch, one comforts another and says something about how people in America put their elderly family members in nursing homes and that the Swedish people would probably find that weird too.
The demise of some characters also has to do with the disrespect and misunderstanding of these traditions. Ari Aster stated that the real
story was “a breakup movie dressed in the clothes of a folk horror film,” when interviewed by the website Vulture.
Midsommar is a horror movie that addresses traditions and how they can be
misunderstood while also telling a breakup story. With plenty of scares and gore, it’s not for the faint of heart or stomach. The lead actors brilliantly portray the characters and show their transformations and the cinematography will give you both amazement and goosebumps.
“Midsommar”can be streamed free with Amazon Prime Video or rented on Google Play, Youtube,
or Vudu for $5.