The seemingly harmless inhabitants of a remote Swedish village are harboring a terrible secret in Midsommar, a new film from Director Ari Aster, who brought us last year’s chilling horror film Hereditary. The official synopsis describes the film as “a dread-soaked cinematic fairytale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.” Judging from the trailer, that sounds about right.
Aster is a longtime fan of the horror genre and kicked off his career with a controversial short film called The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, in which a son develops a taboo incestuous relationship with this father. Hereditary, his first feature, also rooted its horror in dysfunctional family drama, with themes of trauma and grief—right before turning into a bone-chilling nightmare. It was lauded by critics as the scariest movie of the year and likened to such horror classics as The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby.
Dani and Christian are on the verge of breaking up. [credit:
Midsommar seems like it owes more to the 1973 horror/mystery, The Wicker Man, in which a police sergeant investigates a missing girl on the remote Hebridean island of Summerisle, where the inhabitants practice a form of Celtic paganism. It’s a genuinely creepy, if dated and somewhat hokey, film. (The less said about the 2006 remake starring Nicolas Cage, the better.) Midsommar features the same bucolic setting with sinister undertones, and incorporates the same notion of a harvest festival featuring a maypole dance. It’s not a stretch to suspect that the same theme of pagan sacrificial rituals will appear.