Hereditary was the story of a cult destroying one unsuspecting family, but director Ari Aster’s followup horror movie, Midsommar, may be the story of one woman who destroys a cult. Previous interviews with Aster, specifically related to one his self-professed favorite films, Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, may offer a hint at what we can expect from the upcoming A24 movie.
The full-length trailer, which hit YouTube on Tuesday, offers our best look yet at Midsommar, and it looks terrifying. The movie takes place at a Swedish summer festival that only happens once every 90 years and movie stars William Jackson Harper (Chidi from The Good Place), Will Poulter (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch), and Florence Pugh, who’s character seems to be suffering from depression when the movie begins.
Aster’s previous film, Hereditary, along explored the intersection of mental illness and horror, but it seems Midsommar will take an even sharper turn into the surreal.
In an interview with The Playlist, Aster put things bluntly. “It’s an apocalyptic breakup movie,” he said.
As the Midsommar trailer reveals, this festival quickly leads to cult-like behavior. An early image foreshadows the horror as a group of participants dressed in white stand in front of a wooden sculpture while goats run past them. (If you’ve seen A24’s The Witch you know that goats can only lead to demonic activity.)
From here, things quickly take a turn as views of the beautiful Swedish countryside (actually filmed in Hungary) are juxtaposed with gruesome and fantastical imagery. We see a dead bear cut open with its organs on display and a woman’s disfigured face (possibly due to bee stings?). Someone seems to levitate off the ground and in a jump scare moment, a face appears in a mirror only to disappear seconds later.
So how will Midsommar play out? Based on the trailer, it’s not looking particularly good for our group of innocent festival attendees, but Aster’s interest in the 2003 movie Dogville may tease an unexpected twist.
Speaking to The Playlist, Aster called Dogville “maybe the best movie of the last twenty years,” and in a piece for Film Comment, he explained why the Lars Von Trier film resonates so strongly. The movie stars Nicole Kidman as a woman hiding from mobsters who arrives in a small town only to face a new abuse from locals.
Here’s Aster summarizing the end (spoilers for the 2003 movie, and maybe Midsommar, ahead):
When our Christ-like heroine, Grace (Nicole Kidman), is climactically asked what she wants to do with the people of Dogville, who have by then shown their true barbaric colors, our Hollywood training tells us to expect clemency. When she then responds by cold-bloodedly sentencing Patricia Clarkson and her brood of heartless brats (the most monstrous of whom hilariously resembles the director) to death, it becomes thrillingly clear that we’ve just submitted ourselves to a brilliantly argued, three-hour justification for the eventual massacre of a hopelessly corrupt town (just like yours).
Could Aster take a similar approach in Midsommar? Will Florence Pugh’s character survive the demonic festival and get her revenge on the citizens of this pop-up Swedish village? Or will Aster’s new movie take a more familiar route, instead echoing the dark ending of Hereditary where the cult scores a bloody victory against its victims?
Either way, Midsommar looks like an excellent new movie from one of the most exciting horror directors around. We can’t wait to see it once and then never again).
Midsommar hits theaters on July 3, 2019.