Midsommar – USA, 2019

Midsommar is a 2019 American folk horror feature film written and directed by Ari Aster (Hereditary). The movie stars Florence Pugh, Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, Jack Reynor and Julia Ragnarsson.

Update:

Ari Aster recently revealed he is working on an extended cut of Midsommar, which will add at least half an hour to the original running time.

He also revealed his film was initially given a dreaded NC-17 rating by the MPAA as a result of a full-frontal scene involving actor Jack Reynor.

The director was discussing Midsommar during an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) session on Reddit. He was asked about previous comments in which he said that more than an hour of footage was cut from the initial assembly edit of Midsommar .

“Working on extended cut now,” he wrote. “Won’t be 1 hr 20 mins longer, but will be at least 30 mins longer.”

Plot:

An American couple, Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor), whose relationship has seen better days, embark on a trip to Scandinavia with friends Mark (Will Poulter), Josh (William Jackson Harper), and Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), the latter of whom has invited them to visit his remote village in Sweden…

Reviews:

“Aster rises above the sophomore slump in the most daring fashion, crafting something that has enough going on on the surface to take viewers willing to go along for the ride on a horror experience that will shake them to their core and require them to, more than once, take a moment, and just breathe.” Matt Rooney, Arrow in the Head

“We should also probably take a moment to applaud the film’s costume design, which takes some memorable turns as the film goes on. The whole thing looks great […] It doesn’t break the folk horror mold, and didn’t really frighten me in the traditional sense, but it’s a smoother ride than Aster’s previous film.” Birth. Movies. Death.

“Like the hallucinogenic drugs in which the characters indulge, Midsommar takes the viewer on a dizzying journey. It lacks anything as impactful (no pun intended) as Hereditary’s telephone pole scene, but it comes close in several shocking sequences. Aster pulls no punches…” Broke Horror Fan

” …there is a part of me that wishes Aster had pushed the envelope just a little bit further. Make no mistake, though: Midsommar is an impressive, albeit flawed, sophomore effort from Aster, who once again demonstrates just why he’s one of the most interesting filmmakers working today.” Daily Dead

Midsommar is a rewarding journey, but it’s long at 140 minutes and it sometimes meanders. It’s unfocused perhaps, though it’s never less than engaging even when it’s leading us on a (not entirely) merry dance […[ an impressive and unsettling vision you won’t forget for many summers to come.” Rosie Fletcher, Den of Geek!

“As with Hereditary, Aster doesn’t shy away from extreme gore. However, he picks and chooses placement with laser precision, eliciting gasps and nauseous groans from undeniably shocking visuals […] And while the scares aren’t as overt as his previous title, Midsommar is awash with tension…” Dread Central

“The aftermath of wondering leaves you feeling completely out of sorts in ways you never expected, which was surely the intention of Aster – an auteur who specialises in making you want to hide your eyes, even though you can’t tear them away from what’s happening onscreen…” Cheryl Eddy, Gizmodo

“It’s a thoroughly enjoyable film, a crescendo of paranoid trippiness building to an uproarious gross-out in its final moments […] Once we are in that weirdly unreal Swedish clearing, the narrative turbulence clears and things appear initially as calm as a millpond. Yet there is a point to that becalmedness. It helps create the ambient disquiet.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Photographed with extreme care, the film sometimes wears its ambitions on its sleeve […] Midsommar remains too entertained by its exotic rituals to reach the abyss-staring quality of that tale. More unsettling than frightening, it’s still a trip worth taking.” The Hollywood Reporter

Midsommar unfolds against a blinding whiteness of the midnight sun and striking bucolic vistas at odds with the psychological disturbances in play. That visual sophistication provides a unifying force that often smoothes over its rougher passages, as acrobatic camerawork and absorbing soundscapes cast a beguiling spell.” IndieWire

“This is heightened ‘70s exploitation that builds to a bug-nuts crazy climax that had me rolling and clapping. Think hallucinatory Douglas Sirk nightmare by way of Jodorowsky-style surrealist fairytale, all punctuated with bursts of gore and terror.” Brent McKnight, The Last Thing I See

“Not quite a revelation, Midsommar is still a damn good film. The familiarity of the plot elements keeps it from being great, but the way in which these elements are put into play and the more shocking moments are executed definitely puts it up there with the better horror films in recent years.” Screen Anarchy

” …inventive sound design, slyly disorienting special effects and mix of different musical styles help patch over what can be silly or forced elsewhere […] as well as ideas about our primal nature and the universe’s startling ability to mete out justice, no matter how unexpectedly. Not every ambition succeeds, but it’s invigorating to watch Aster and Pugh guide us on this wild sojourn.” Screen Daily

” …it finds the washed-out horror of what follows primary pain—the danger we might seek, court, and need when all the trappings of our life have been undone by unimaginable loss. Somehow, Aster’s deliberate and ponderous film is also really funny, as much a musing on the absurdity of our fragility as it is a scared lament.” Vanity Fair

“Never as impactful, as emotional, or as frightening as the director’s debut […] it’s neither the masterpiece nor the disaster that the film’s most vocal viewers are bound to claim. Rather, it’s an admirably strange, thematically muddled curiosity from a talented filmmaker who allows his ambitions to outpace his execution.” Variety

Background:

Previously, Midsommar director Ari Aster and Jordan Peele talked about the movie in the pages of Fangoria magazine which Entertainment Weekly kindly shared online.

“There are some obvious comps out there, but this movie is just so unique,” Peele says. “This hasn’t existed yet, and anything after Midsommar is going to have to contend with it. I mean, this usurps The Wicker Man as the most iconic pagan movie to be referenced.”

Peele continues, “It plays a weird sleight of hand, where it transcends the horror of itself. It is an ascension of horror. I didn’t feel victimized; I felt like I was being put up on this pedestal and honored through the eyes of the protagonist. It’s a very unique feeling for a film to conjure because after it ended, I found myself looking back at the final act like, ‘Holy shit.’ That was some of the most atrociously disturbing imagery I’ve ever seen on film, and yet I experienced it with this open-mouthed, wild-eyed gape.”

Ari Aster told Fandango that:

“There’s nothing as explicit as [worshipping King Paimon]. There’s no Paimon involved. But I would say that [Midsommar] is something of a companion to Hereditary, although the similarities didn’t really occur to me until we were on set. And thematic ties became apparent to me. But nothing so overt as Paimon worshipping.”

Ari Aster recently told Entertainment Weekly [from where the pic above was first posted]:

“The film is definitely mining the same vein as Wicker Man was working, but as a piece of folk-horror, it’s pretty irreverent in that it doesn’t really stay comfortably on that route. That’s why I’m making sure to describe it as a fairytale. It’s not a million miles away from something like Alice in Wonderland. It’s a psychedelic film. But there are no solid [comparisons] that I can hand you. I’m hoping that the film feels pretty singular and is a trip.”

In the same piece, Midsommar cast members Jack Reynor and Florence Pugh explained more about the cult:

“[In] The Wicker Man, that’s kind of a cult you wouldn’t mind being a part of. But these guys, in Midsommar, they’re really f—ing creepy dudes. They’re a really weird, culty kind of commune. Everybody’s all dressed in white, they have strange kinds of social cliques.”

Plugh went on to elaborate about her character Dani:

“Dani has had a loss, [and] by the time that the film starts, she’s in the middle of a relationship that is on its way out. When we meet her, she’s just about to suffer some more. So it’s pretty much rock bottom with her! They’re in the middle of their holiday, and a few of them are over it, and I’m getting inspired to look around and figure things out.”

Release:

Midsommar will be released by A24 on Wednesday, July 3, 2019.

Cast and characters:

  • Florence Pugh … Dani
  • Will Poulter … Josh
  • William Jackson Harper … Mark
  • Jack Reynor … Christian
  • Julia Ragnarsson
  • Björn Andrésen … Dan
  • Anna Åström … Karin
  • Henrik Norlén … Ulf
  • Liv Mjönes … Ulla
  • Louise Peterhoff … Hanna
  • Archie Madekwe … Ingemar
  • Ellora Torchia
  • Gunnel Fred … Siv
  • Rebecka Johnston … Ulrika
  • Isabelle Grill … Maja
  • Balázs Megyeri … Harga
  • Anki Larsson … Irma

Filming locations:

Budapest, Hungary

Related:

The Wicker Man – UK, 1973

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