Ari Aster to Follow ‘Hereditary’ With a Pagan Cult Horror Movie

A24 puts its faith in the dark mind of Ari Aster.

Hereditary Toni Collette

A24 puts its faith in the dark mind of Ari Aster.

Even within this new golden age of horror films, Ari Aster’s Hereditary stands out as an exceptional excursion into the macabre. With the film sitting pretty with a fresh 89% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and a global box office take of $80 million, it was a sure-fire bet that A24 would want to remain in the Aster business. Taking that into account, and the natural perils of the sophomore slump, the anticipation surrounding the director’s follow-up has already started to swell. Can Aster possibly live up to his first film’s terrifying declaration?

Collider reports that Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth) has signed on to star in Aster’s next picture. The actress received the BAFTA Rising Star award in 2017, and will soon be seen starring opposite Chris Pine in the Netflix original feature Outlaw King, as well as in Stephen Merchant’s wrestling comedy Fighting With My Family. After announcing her involvement with Aster during a TCA panel for the BBC series Little Drummer Girl, Pugh further exclaimed her enthusiasm for the project via Twitter:

Her excitement is understandable. Whatever your ultimate thoughts are regarding Hereditary’s climactic foray into the monstrous (although, let it be known that the FSR team has firmly pledged their allegiance), there is no denying the talent displayed by Toni Collette. Whispers of a potential Oscar nomination are not to be dismissed. Collette is a raw nerve stripped free from the usual genre conventions, fully committing to the misery of her character’s household before any goosebumps get involved. Her performance dictates how effective the scares take hold of your experience, and anyone looking to make an impact on the pop culture landscape would be desperate to work with the creative force that carved such a pathway for Collette.

Joining Pugh will be Jack Reynor and Will Poulter, who recently co-starred in Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit. Collider also reports that the rest of the ensemble could be filled out by Vilhem Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Ellora Torchia, and Archie Madekwe. Not too shabby.

Official details on Aster’s next endeavor are limited. The film is described as a summer-trip movie in which a young woman and her boyfriend are besieged upon by a local pagan cult. Could this film tie back into the religious zealotry witnessed in Hereditary?

In an interview conducted by Fandango back in June, Aster admitted that, if audiences demanded it, he does have an idea for an unorthodox sequel. However, he also states that this new film is an entirely separate venture:

“The next film I’m making is a horror film, and I’m making it with A24. It’s a dark break-up movie that becomes a horror film, set in Sweden. It’s called ‘Midsommar.’”

As was the case with Hereditary, Midsommar sounds grounded in the everyday evils of human relationships. I imagine the film will present Pugh’s character and her boyfriend as a couple on the brink before introducing a supernatural element to further the wedge in their crumbling romance. Was there anything scarier in Hereditary beyond the dinner table confrontation between mother and son? Not really. When the supernatural eventually revealed itself in that film, I uttered a sigh of relief. I can deal with demons, but parental failure strikes a chord all too real.

Aster, like the very best horror maestros before him, appreciates the true terrors of routine humanity. As division becomes ever more prevalent in our society, creature features can easily be transformed into conversation starters. Exploring ordinary fears via extraordinary situations is healthy and necessary. Aster joins a growing list of filmmakers (George A. Romero, Guillermo del Toro, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Kent) looking to dissect societal ills within genre storytelling. As someone who defined his own morality around episodes of The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, I approve, and eagerly await Midsommar.

Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.