Midsommar – by Ari Aster
Midsommar is a disturbingly beautiful film which fallows the story of main character Dani. Dani receives a worrying email form her sister Terri and looks to her boyfriend, Christian, who is an anthropology graduate, for support and help. Once he begrudgingly agrees to go and see her, Dani later finds out that her sister has killed herself and her parents in the night. A few months later while Dani is still dealing with the grief of her family, Christian is planning a boy’s trip to Sweden, that he had been keeping a secret from Dani, with his friends Josh, Mark, and fellow classmate Pelle (who later on is reviled to have ‘harvested’ he main cast specifically for the rituals that take place). Once Dani finds out about the trip, reluctantly, Christian invites Dani along on the trip. The whole trip is based on the Midsommar celebrations that only happen once every 90 years and is a secret form the rest of the world. While among the community they are to follow and respect the sacred rules of the community and are later on picked off one by one as some of them are disrespectful to scared things or don’t follow certain rules.
As well as following the rituals of the Midsommar festival, the movie heavily focuses on the Journey that Dani goes through with emotions due to the loss of her parents and sister and also with the decline and somewhat destruction of her relationship with Christian. This cult film shows the weird way in which this ‘cult’ all feels and experience the same things. Having each other feel the same emotions and embracing each other’s fears and pain to, I guess in some way, help them overcome what they are feeling and have a sense that they are not alone. This is a big thing for Dani as her emotions seem to overcome her at times but arriving on this trip suddenly has her mood completely changing, as though she feels as if she belongs among them and that they can sense what has happened to her and allow her to have a sort of scape haven away from her past and the distress that comes with it. The light and embracing aesthetic of the place they are staying and the people around them is a way to throw you off the much more sinister tones and things that happen throughout their journey. Death, drugs, suicide, and weird mating rituals are just a small part of the much bigger picture that is happening in this film.
Aster plays around with the use of hallucinogenic through the movie, giving the viewer and visual of unease all the way through the film, having the background of the trees warping and moving and hiding things within them. Things may seem as though they are not actually there and it also ties into the fact that through the majority of this film, the main characters are continuously given drugs to try and keep them at bay and so they are not full aware of all the things that are happening around them, use as a way to keep them in the dark while still exposing them to a large majority of the rituals that happen during the festival. It is a way to lower their defences and leaves them open to the influences. It can also be seen as a way to open themselves up to themselves and actually have a feeling of their emotions and I would say allows them to open up to each other and those around them.
In conclusion I think that this sinister cult horror is a very eye opening and influential with a lot of visually pleasing imagery and artwork. Midsommar looks at senses of surrendering to emotion and also loosing your grip on a sense of reality. I think this film represents a perfect view of journey. Seeing it as we on a journey with Dani as she figures out what is going on, not only the events of what is happening around her, but within herself. Dani’s personal journey through grief and emotion is something that everyone goes through and this film, in its own messed up way, is exactly that. The fear that comes with being in a new place but at the same time trying to trying to overcome a mass number of heightened emotions is a massive step in anyone’s life, and figuring how to over come it and how to surround yourself with people that truly care and understand while weeding off the people who are in a sense gaslighting your emotions and feelings to make it seem like you are crazy and completely over reacting to certain situations that are completely valid. Everyone goes through a journey of emotion, and for my project that’s pretty much what I did, opening myself up to the influences and trying to completely lower my defences to that people can get a view of who I actually am and that everything I am feeling or how I look is completely acceptable and that I do not have to change who I am to please others. Trying to overcome self-doubt and a that nagging feeling that things will never change that you’ll never be good enough is how I see Dani’s journey through the film. It is the feeling like you never truly belong and that the people around you do not appreciate you for who you are.