Distraught relationship? One last wish to reconcile? A friends trip with your ex-beau. Suspicions. Hallucinations. Disturbing rituals. A 90-year festival. Welcoming hosts. Nothing can go wrong right? Absolutely not- except that you’ll be terrorized for the entire week with atrociously disturbing images of Midsommar, and excerpts from the film. To know more, scroll down.
We have grown up to hear the quote, “In Rome, do as the Romans do”. But does it apply to Sweden too, especially at the time of the Midsommar festival? Want to find out? Then watch this up-and-coming horror film on July 3rd in your nearest cinemas. After watching “Get Out”, and “Hereditary”, be prepared to watch a horrifying disturbing film which will leave you gawking at the images- widemouthed. The shattered attractiveness and sophomore effects make this scarier, iconic and an idyllic horror film. While Hereditary dealt with dark, midnight effects- this deals with sunshine, feelgood image (basically scaring the living daylights off you).
What is Midsommar?
In Sweden, Midsommar, or rather the “Midsummer” festival is celebrated during the summer solstice. It takes place on a day from June 19 to June 25. The major attraction for tourists and passer-by is the raising and dancing of a pole like structure known as “maypole”. Maypole is known as majstång or midsommarstång in the Swedish language. It also inculcates decorating the girls with flowers and adorning them with floral headbands. It is a very beautiful festival, in terms of decorative extravaganza and simplicity. Another tradition ensues or rather believes that if a girl picks seven different flowers and puts them under her pillow in the night of the midsummer, she will dream of her future husband.
Midsommar Trailer Review- Breaking down the trailer
When encrypting this harmless festival in a horror flick with hallucination drugs and paganic cults, be ready to scare your souls out of the body. In the first half of the trailer, we see a few backpackers going to a fertility festival set in Sweden called the “Midsommar”. This festival only happens once in 90 years and continues to 9 days.
People dress up in white and do crazy dances around the maypole. They usually drink and enjoy their own music inculcated into the summer. The festival is a fertility festival, hence all the women are adorned with flowers to symbolize the fact that flowers can bloom when they shouldn’t- or when their time to bloom hasn’t come yet.
This esoteric festival produces amazement in the eyes of the protagonist and her friends. In the backstory of the protagonist, Dani, we see a distraught relationship with her husband, where she is borderline insecure and possessive about her husband and always want to know his whereabouts. Her curiousness can be traced back to something horrific which happened to her and shook her very base up to act like this.
Her husband, Christan, tired of this inquisitiveness, talks about to his friends of four and they deem her as crazy and ask him to divorce her. A common friend in the midst seeks out to our protagonist and asks her to join them- Christian and his friends(including him), to a Swedish festival. He promises that she’ll enjoy it and get rid of all her ill thoughts.
The locals are very much interested to join them into this ritual in a bid to let them unwind and be a part of this strange paganic cultist ritual. Till this point, a kind-looking woman takes over and narrates them their role into the ritual, and the doings of the ritual. The cheerful-looking villagers and locals are very much happy to have them here- Kind of like the calm before the storm!
The villagers let them stay in a dormitory and help them get introduced and involved in the group. Another shot shows an image, which describes the paganic rituals involving the sea, earth, fire, and sky. Being a fertility festival, the women are the torchbearers and are seen standing in the midst of the sea- naked.
Later on, a few backpackers are seen getting an intoxicating aroma and Kool-aid drinks to participate in the festival. these seem like a hallucination drug, as in the next scene when one of the members asks for the time, a reply comes as “9 pm”. Although, it doesn’t look like 9 pm much, due to the scorching sunlight and lit blue skies. To this query, another reply comes as “this is how 9 pm looks here”. This is a clear metaphor, that the entire backpackers’ team are completely hallucinated and are not into their proper decision-making selves.
The drink and the aroma are known as the elixir of life by the locals there. The robes which are worn by the newly arrived guests have symbols of self-sacrifice – an upward-looking arrow which makes for the Tyr God or the God of tears and self-sacrifice. When going for a horror film, there is nothing creepier than immensely happy people with ear-to-ear smiles glaring right at you. This doesn’t give you any idea about what is going to happen next.
There are various symbols carved into runes which stand for divination, inheritance, homeland, sacrifice, and spells. Another shot shows a woman decapitated from her head, or maybe bowing down ( you never know what it is- until you see it), applying a freshly brewed coat of blood (maybe her own’s). There is also a breathing ritual shown, which is integrated into a song. This style of singing is known as throat singing and in the real world, it can only be performed by a few indigenous populations of Sweden.
The next shot shows the Elder of the cult to enter a devoted temple wearing a mask, while the next shot overlooks an extreme disfigurement of a woman- with puffed-up face and lips- possibly a side effect from the drugs induced in the body for the ritual. The friend who originally brought them into this ritual, reassures the rest of his mates to be at peace, for this ritual is very much enjoyable and worth-watching and participating.
The next shot leaves us at jigsaws where a sacrificial ground is shown in the temple. While, with the next shot we see the villages looking upward, facing the temple with the Elder holding a hammer-like instrument which is not at all safe and definitely a 100 times creepier. While pairs of women are breathing over each other’s faces making weird sounds, Dani is running into the woods trying to escape. An earlier teaser showed Dani asking to leave, and an elderly woman politely declining it. Maybe this is a set premise for that scene.
Another shot pulls us back into the ritual where the entire clan along with the backpackers are setting to feast, while on the other hand, a sacrificial animal’s entrails are searched for signs of divination. Then comes up a psychedelic sequence where a woman is shown freefalling from a very huge height, and another elderly man clapping into one of our backpacker’s face leaving waves around him.
The ending scenes show Dani looking distraught, and then peeping through a keyhole wherein only sounds of violent cries and screams are heard- which are no way calming or enjoyable as said in the first part of the trailer.
The trailer ends with Dani being said that she was the reason they came up into this village.
The magic of Ari Aster’s cinematic universe is that many of the shots include the actor/actress looking directly into the face of the camera. This means, that the viewer is looking through the eyes of the protagonist. However, for a film like this- it is hard to judge who the main protagonist is.
A distraught couple seeks for condolence and a chance at reconciliation when a friend suggests them, to accompany him for a Swedish festival known as Midsommar which is hosted every 90 years. What remains unknown to them, is the disturbing rituals of the paganic cults and weird fertility blooming rituals and drugs aimed especially at the women.
Directed by: Ari Aster
Produced by: Lars Knudsen
Written by: Ari Aster
Cinematography: Pawel Pogorzelski
Edited by: Lucian Johnston
Production companies: Parts & Labor, B-Reel Films
Distributed by: A24
Release date: July 3, 2019
Running time: 140 minutes
Language: English, Swedish
1. Florence Pugh as Dani2. Jack Reynor as Christian3. William Jackson Harper as Mark4. Will Poulter as Josh5. Vilhelm Blomgren as Pelle6. Archie Madekwe as Simon7. Ellora Torchia as Connie
Midsommar Trailers released on YouTube
Midsommar Teasers released on YouTube
Catch this horrifying folklore on July 3rd, in your nearest theatres!