‘Midsommar’ Trailer Breakdown: Let the Festivities Begin

Do you folks remember the band Polyphonic Spree? They were quite popular back in the early 2000s and had too many members to count. You might have seen them in an episode of Scrubs. Anyway, their shtick involved dressing up in white robes and singing really upbeat, catchy, sun-filled pop songs that put smiles on people’s faces. All they wanted to do was make the world a cheerful place, but if you saw them without understanding the context, you may have mistaken them for a crazy cult.

Well, A24 has unveiled the first unsettling trailer for Ari Aster’s hotly anticipated horror flick, Midsommar, and it shows what that band could have been if they actually were sinister cultists. Here, everyone is dressed in white gowns, their surroundings are tranquil and bright, sunny colors are everywhere. Smiling faces greet us, but those people are not to be trusted. The movie has all the makings of a modern folk horror classic if it lives up to the potential of the teaser.

Brace yourself for some nightmare fuel and watch the trailer for yourself:

I like what this movie is selling. We know that it’s about some out of town tourists who visit a remote Swedish village and get mixed up with the local residents. As the trailer shows us, they’re celebrating a festival that only comes around once every 90 years, where things promise to get “pretty crazy.” It makes the Fyre Festival look like a trip to Disneyland.

Stories like this are the bread and butter of folk-tinged terror, but Aster’s brand of fright fare has its own unique vibe that gets under the skin. Hereditary has already shown us that he knows how to create a creepy cinematic cult, but they were mostly relegated to the background in that movie. In Midsommar, we’ll be spending a lot of time with a wacky sect.

The first shot is very soothing to look at. Who doesn’t love a summer’s day with the sun smiling at the world from the sky? Right from the get-go, though, something doesn’t feel right. The tone is all out of wack and disquieting, which makes the pleasant visuals not seem so friendly after all.

A bird’s eye shot shows us some cars driving down a road that’s surrounded by pretty woodland. If the history of horror cinema has taught us anything, however, it’s that the city is the safest place to be. No road in the heart of nature leads to a place where survival is guaranteed.

Dani (Florence Pugh) makes her way into the festival and observes her surroundings. She looks slightly taken aback, but she’s soaking it all in. Little does she know that she’s about to witness all kinds of strange shenanigans later on.

Joined by a group of fellow visitors, our protagonist makes her way into the camp. All seems fine. Of course, now we’re asking ourselves how many of these foolish mortals are going to make it out alive. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say only some of them will. And that’s me being optimistic.

Meet Ula (Liv Mjönes), who greets her victim with a courteous “Hi.” She also serves as the trailer’s narrator and goes on to discuss how the victim is unable to speak or move as a result of the potent concoction she’s been given. We don’t know what her plans are for whoever she’s talking to, or why she insists on them being defenseless, but they aren’t going anywhere.

Do you ever get that feeling that everyone is watching you? That’s what’s going on here. Whatever the purpose is for the walk down this aisle remains unclear. Judging by the looks on those people’s faces, though, it’s important. What’s the significance of that plant up ahead? Is it even significant? We do not know. But everyone is all dressed up for this occasion, and you know it’s going to be a memorable day.

If people in this horror haven weren’t so messed up, then their community would actually be quite a nice place to live. Even the carriages are covered in flowers. I appreciate their enthusiasm for agriculture and the way they decorate their surroundings in nature’s awesome splendor.

We don’t know what this cult believes in, but nature plays an essential part in their way of life. The etchings on the walls depict water, fire, and earth. There’s also a clear connection between nature and death here, which makes me think that this festival is all about giving back to Mother Nature with blood offerings.

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the genius of cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski. When this movie is released, you can expect to see plenty of shots on the One Perfect Shot Twitter feed. This scene is also pure folk horror; a group of people, holding hands, dancing around a circle is like something from The Wicker Man. Here we see a quirkiness on display that’s quite reminiscent of the 1973 classic as well. That said, it’s difficult to watch any folk horror movie without being reminded of Wicker Man in some way.

Cut to a mysterious girl (Julia Ragnarsson) standing amid a crowd of passers-by. She’s caught someone’s glance, but we don’t know who yet. She also appears to be one of the locals if her choice of clothing is anything to go by. Little else is known, but this moment in the trailer indicates that she has an important part to play.

Jack Reynor‘s character sniffs some smoke-filled concoction. Perhaps this is how the villagers make their victims’ bodies become temporarily paralyzed? Or maybe it’s just some herbal remedy that eases stress after a long day. Who knows. The scene seems friendly enough at first glance, but there’s probably some sinister act at play here.

Say hello to Will Poulter‘s character, who’s wandering around looking lost and suspicious. Of course, the most striking image here is the canopy in the background, which looks like it’s full of secrets. Do we even want to know what happens in there? I think we do. Regardless of what horrors await within its yellow walls, this is another stunning shot.

William Jackson‘s character looks like he’s just learned something eye-opening. Let’s not forget that spending time amongst cults can also be a learning experience. Maybe he’s been converted to their belief system, but we can only speculate. However, whenever you see an elderly wise man holding a book, it’s safe to assume that some kind of wisdom is being shared.

Granny is on the loose.

Cut to the festivities beginning and the proverbial poop about to hit the fan. Still, everyone is singing, smiling, and having a good time in their own twisted way. This is very discomforting, but it’s nothing compared to what’s about to transpire…

Take this headless man for instance, whose bloody handprints cover some kind of symbol. Well, isn’t this trailer just full of surprises? It’s also nice to know that this movie will contain some of the disturbing violence that made Hereditary so memorable. Aster isn’t afraid to take the viewer on a violent, uncomfortable journey.

Let’s not forget that this story takes place in the countryside during summer, which means there’s a high pollen count and lots of wasps. This woman is probably experiencing an allergic reaction to something. We’re at that point in the trailer now where it’s essentially just a montage of disturbing imagery assaulting our senses. What it lacks in coherency it more than makes up for in nightmare-inducing thrills.

Earlier on, we saw murals depicting people carrying torches. Here, the villagers seem to be following some of the instructions depicted in the drawings. A ritual is in motion, but who’s going to end up being set aflame?

Someone has realized that coming to this festival was a mistake. Sure, they can run. But where will they go?

Two creepy figures make their way towards the action. Once again, that yellow canopy is in the background teasing us with its secrets.

Again, this trailer really understands the power of disturbing imagery as a selling point. In the space of a second, we see someone’s guts followed by someone else trying to fly off a cliff. Whoever said that this festival gets pretty crazy wasn’t lying. Personally, I wish these moments were left out of the trailer as they’ve spoiled some of the demented treats this movie has in store for us. Still, I get the impression that this is only a taste of what’s to come.

The trailer ends on an ambiguous note with the sounds of crying and moaning coming from a building. Whatever is happening inside has caught the interest of our protagonist, who peeks through the door as any normal person would. But if her final expression is anything to go by, she’s going to come to regret her decision. All in all, though, this is a fitting end to a trailer that has left us with more questions than answers. Needless to say, Midsommar has our attention.

Midsommar hits theaters on Aug. 9, 2019.

Kieran Fisher: Kieran is a Daily Curator for the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.