Ari Aster made sure we remembered his name in 2018. That year, he released his debut feature-length film: Hereditary.
It was unlike any other horror film that year. Rather than relying on jumpscares similar to The Conjuring franchise, it imprinted its images of horror in a more artistic, dreadful manner.
And now, we have Midsommar. The trailer made us believe that it was another horror masterpiece. But this time, it was mostly held in daylight — a far cry from the usual creeping darkness in scary movies. So did Midsommar deliver the fright?
A Whole New Level of Unnerving Intensity
Do you know what makes Ari Aster’s works compelling? He doesn’t spoonfeed the crowd. He refuses to let people know what the film is going to be about just by the trailers alone.
That’s a stark contrast to the movie trailers that pretty much spoil the general plot. With Midsommar, we’re going in blind.
One could argue that the trailers of Aster’s films are designed to mislead us. Remember the teaser for Hereditary? The weird-looking kid who made clucking sounds, Charlie Graham (Milly Shapiro), was made to look like the creepy central figure.
What happened to her? She was killed in the first half. And the same thing happened in Midsommar: The strange-looking blonde kid wasn’t someone evil.
Any expectations you may have had are thrown out the window. Aster even makes it somewhat literal: The ominous track that sounds something off of Hereditary stops once the camera goes past the window.
‘Midsommar’ is Complete Terror in Broad Daylight
What makes Midsommar haunting is that it subverts our beliefs about what horror should look like. For most of the time, the film takes place in daylight.
We aren’t covered in darkness, where monsters can conveniently hide and appear in front of the big screen — and yet the film remains creepy.
The key to making Midsommar terrifying is to make a point: Everyone is capable of being the monster. Each person can love, but that also means they can feel sorrow, anger, and pain.
And in the case of Dani, we have someone who needs comfort but has no one to share her feelings to. Rather than making the main character confront evil creatures, Aster forces Dani into a state of despair and isolation.
The Swedish commune does indeed have bloody cultural practices. But remember: Dani was given the choice as to who would perish. And she chose her inconsiderate, cheating boyfriend.
‘Midsommar’ Forces Us to Examine Ourselves
Sure, Midsommar has gore and lots of blood. It has a dead, carved-up bear and full frontal nudity. But those elements aren’t scary on their own.
Aster makes them meaningful because they serve a deeper purpose: To highlight the different stagnating and developing relationships among the key characters.
The great and terrifying thing about Midsommar is that it shows us that horror isn’t all about headless ghosts and zombies.
In its creative way, the film illustrates that every individual is capable of committing harm — and we can only hope that we don’t fall too deep in the tunnel and lose our sense of morality.