With every national holiday comes a flurry of listicles linking pop culture icons to the celebration in question. This past Mother’s Day saw every site ranking their favorite movie moms, and we participated just like the rest. Looking at these registries, it’s clear that Ari Aster‘s Hereditary made a tremendous impact on audiences last year. You could not escape the screaming face of its matriarch, Annie (Toni Collette). For the rest of time, she will be uttered in the same breath as Rosemary Woodhouse (Rosemary’s Baby) and Margaret White (Carrie). That’s a cultural consequence, and that’s a whole heap of pressure on Aster’s sophomore effort. We think he can pull it off.
Despite having only the vaguest of ideas, after the first teaser for Midsommar, we were in the bag. Reteaming with his Hereditary DP Pawel Pogorzelski, Aster continues to capture the beauty of dread by meticulously organizing each frame. He moves us from the ordinary horrors of family life, transplanting his protagonists as outsiders deserving their sacrificial makeover. We pretend to understand the world around us, but the rules can shift in any given second, and our needs can easily be supplanted by those of another.
The second trailer offers more insight into the characters venturing beyond their world, and the emotional nightmare they’re bringing into a European vacation they’ll never forget. If they survive at all.
Icky, icky, icky. Aster and Pogorzelski present a terrifying ordeal with an almost unbearable lighting pallet. In a new interview with Fandango, Aster described the visual aesthetic as “a film that is naggingly bright.” I should say so. Midsommar takes its cue from the summer solstice and splays its nightmares in harsh, punishing sunlight. There is no shadow to hide behind. There is no escape. The washed out look of the movie delivers its unique sense of unease. So, let’s dig in, shot by shot.
The trailer opens with Christian (Jack Reynor) and Dani (Florence Pugh) having an agitated chat regarding his arrangements to attend a midsummer festival in Sweden. All is not right when couples reach the stage in their relationship where their conversations contain “I told you.” Dani’s retort of “I don’t mind you going, I just wish you told me” is proof that he’s making life decisions in spite of her feelings. The end is near for these two. They know it, but they’re going through the motions anyway. Their surprise will be the kind of end they receive.
Christain’s bros gather around the pizza table. Josh (Will Poulter) pushes his friend to sever all ties with Dani, villainizing her emotions with “Dude, she needs a therapist.” She’s the problem, not you. Forget that hangdog expression, let’s go have some fun overseas. Josh needling further, “You’ve been wanting out of this stupid relationship for like a year now.” Here is your chance; take it.
Ulf (Henrik Norlén) piggybacks on that thought, “And don’t forget about all the beautiful Swedish women you’ll meet in June.” There are plenty of fish in the sea. Don’t let one carp restrict you from a school of trout. Gross. Mere seconds into the trailer and I’m eagerly anticipating the destruction of their toxicity.
Dani rings, igniting more venom from the bros, “That’s not her again? Seriously?”
Christian begrudgingly answers, “Babe, what’s happening? Dani?” A personal horror strikes, and because Chrisitan is such a good dude, he can’t bear to break up with her during her hour of need. He’s going to play the good boyfriend for a little while longer.
A tragedy has struck. We see Dani catatonic in grief. With such pain coursing through her heart, simply finding the will to remove herself from the bed is an excruciating task. She needs love more than ever, but Christian can only provide false comfort.
Ulf acknowledges the vague sadness of her tragedy, “I was so very sorry to hear about what happened.” There is a sinister nature to his interest. As he did with Christian at the pizza parlor and based on what we see later on in the trailer, Ulf is reeling bait for his people’s ritualistic needs.