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Film / Midsommar

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"We only do this every 90 years."

"Welcome to Hårga, and happy midsummer! It has been ninety years since our last great feast, and it will be ninety years before our next. And what poetry that it's now the hottest and brightest summer on record. We already have so much to give back. And so, without any further blathering, let's raise our glasses, and let our nine-day feast commence. Skål!"

Midsommar is a 2019 Folk Horror film written and directed by Ari Aster (of Hereditary fame), starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper and Archie Madekwe.

Dani (Pugh) and Christian (Reynor) are a young American couple with a relationship on the brink of falling apart. But after Dani's world is rocked by a tragedy, Christian reluctantly invites her to join him and his friends on a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival in a remote Swedish village.

What begins as a carefree summer holiday in a land of eternal sunlight takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that render the pastoral paradise increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing.

A director's cut (a little under a half-hour longer than the theatrical cut) was given a limited theatrical release for one weekend on August 29th, 2019, with a brief AppleTV exclusive release in September and a BluRay release in late October.

Previews: teaser, trailer.

Not related to the British television series Midsomer Murders.

Midsommar contains examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts: Subverted with Josh and Simon, played straight with the other men. Mark wants to get laid more than anything, Christian wants to have sex and can't cope with Dani's lack of sex drive, and Pelle has a crush on Dani.
  • And I Must Scream: Christian comes across Simon in the chicken coop, his back opened up and his lungs exposed. To Christian's horror (and ours), Simon's lungs still move, seemingly indicating that he's breathing. The horror of this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that this is a physical impossibility — you cannot breathe without the diaphragm, and since there is no actual supernatural activity in the movie, it's safe to assume Christian hallucinated the lungs moving.
  • And Starring: Will Poulter.
  • Arcadia: Pelle makes sure they drive directly from the airport to the village (which is surrounded by beautiful fields) without passing any big cities in between (much to Mark's dismay). Later Played for Horrorthe idyllic fields are hiding some violent customs.
  • Arc Number: Nine, and its multiples. The festival occurs every ninety years, lasts nine days, and the ritual requires nine sacrifices. This is true to real Scandinavian paganism, as nine is a sacred number in Norse mythology.note 
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After Dani confesses her conflicted feelings about her dwindling relationship with Christian, Pelle puts her mounting doubt into perspective with two questions:
    "He's my good friend, and I like him, but... Dani, do you feel held by him? Does he feel like home to you?"
  • Artistic License:
  • Artistic License – Biology: Simon ends up being blood-eagled, which includes his back being ripped open to expose his lungs. When Christian finds his body, we get a shot showcasing that his lungs are still moving outside of his body, and while this could be attributed to the hallucinogenic warping exhibited throughout the film, isolating the film's audio tracks reveals that labored breathing sounds were included for Simon, indicating that he has somehow survived this process. However, human lungs are physically incapable of breathing, or of doing anything save collapse under their own weight for that matter, outside of an airtight low-pressure compartment (e.g., an intact thoracic cavity).
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Downplayed with Christian. Sure, he's culturally insensitive and an uncaring boyfriend, but that definitely doesn't justify being raped and then burnt alive as part of a ritual sacrifice while unable to move or scream as a "punishment".
    • The same goes for Josh and Mark, the former ignoring the elder's warnings to not take photos of the cult's sacred book, and the latter for (albeit unknowingly) urinating on the ancestral tree and not apologizing. That being said, their punishment still outweighs their offenses.
    • It should be noted that Josh was the only one of the group who knew that "ättestupa" was a ritual killing of elderly villagers. He also knew that Dani was traumatized by the murder of her parents, who were roughly the same age as the sacrifice victims. Yet he did nothing to warn Dani and was merely annoyed by her predictable horrified reaction. (Pelle on the other hand, seems genuinely sympathetic towards Dani.) All of Christian's friends show a remarkable lack of empathy towards both Dani, the villagers, and the two British tourists.
    • Christian's last-minute decision to write his thesis on the Hårga villagers, even though he knew in advance Josh was planning to do the same thing. Fortunately for them, the village elders are willing to accommodate both. Of course, they knew in advance that at most only one of the two would survive, and both wind up perishing.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The ritual goes off without a hitch and there is no indication that anyone in the outside world is going to come and stop the cult. And there will be people like Pelle among the outside world who will lure their future victims for their people's heinous acts.
  • Bathroom Stall of Angst: Dani frequently leaves the room to go to the bathroom and cry when she's overwhelmed by her grief, both in Christian's bathroom and in the bathroom of the airplane to Sweden.
  • Bears Are Bad News: In the village's mythology, the bear carries all the "most unholy affekts" of the community and is purged in the final sacrifice with the ninth victim, chosen by the May Queen, sewn into a bearskin.
  • Betty and Veronica: Throughout the film, Christian continues to date Dani (Betty) but remains non-committed to her and finds himself drawn to the more seductive villager Maja (Veronica).
  • Bickering Couple, Peaceful Couple: Christian and Dani are the "bickering couple" (albeit always quelled by Dani apologising) in comparison to Simon and Connie being perfectly in sync and genuinely "peaceful".
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Though you don't need to know Swedish to figure this out, when Dani spontaneously starts "speaking Swedish" during the May Queen dance, she's actually speaking gibberish, revealing that it's just a product of her hallucination. There is however a lot of spoken Swedish that goes untranslated and unsubtitled, most of it painting varying levels of foreshadowing and adding depth to the Hårga's goals and mythology.
    • The banner hanging over the road (in the upside-down scene early in the movie) reads "Stoppa massinvandringen till Hälsingland- rösta på Fritt Norr i höst!", which translates to "Stop the mass immigration to Hälsingland- vote for Free North this fall!" The sign also features the same rune that is painted on the walls of the sacrificial building.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The nightmarish ättestupa ritual takes place on Dani's birthday; to add insult to injury, Christian forgets the date.
  • Black Comedy: The film contains a surprising number of pitch-black moments of humor amidst the terror.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Though the sex scene between Christian and Maja is disgusting and horrifying due to his inability to consent, the actions of the older women who surround them (singing and moaning in ecstasy, cupping Maja's cheek, even pressing down on Christian's butt to make him go faster) are so bizarre that they almost verge on funny. Christian bailing when he hears Maja's claim of "feeling the baby inside of her" and covering up his genitals while running away is just the cap on that surreal, darkly comical feeling.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The Ambiguously Brown Simon and Connie are the first outsiders to be killed in the village; Josh, the only black member of the group, is the first to be killed onscreen. They are far from the first characters to be killed off, however.
  • Blatant Lies: A cult member insists to Connie that her devoted fiancé simply left the village without her and without saying a word in order to catch a train. She doesn't believe it for a moment and gets hostile. She's Properly Paranoid and indeed Simon never left the village; unfortunately, she suffers the same fate.
  • Bludgeoned to Death:
    • The cultists use a ceremonial mallet to Mercy Kill one of the elders who attempts the ritual suicide but only manages to shatter his legs.
    • Later, Josh is incapacitated by a blow from this mallet to the back of the head.
  • Body Horror: Between most of the deaths in the film and Ruben's deformed, incest-bred face, this film has spades of this.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: Pelle reassures the recently-orphaned Dani that he understands how she feels because he also lost both his parents.
  • Broken Smile: Dani gives one at the very end of the film as the fire temple burns to the ground. Aster's script makes it clear that, while the image is meant to convey multiple emotions, the trope was definitely intended.
    A SMILE finally breaks onto Dani's face.
    She has surrendered to a joy known only by the insane.
    She has lost herself completely, and she is finally free.
    It is horrible and it is beautiful.
  • Cathartic Exhalation: During the rituals, Dani joins in doing this with the other Hårga women.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: While the Hårga has some electricity thanks to a water power plant, their isolated location has no communication towers nearby.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The film is set in a hippie-ish pagan commune in an environment where the sun is up for twenty hours a day. This can lull viewers into a false sense of security, expecting things to be cheerful. They're not.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Aside from its connections specifically to Hereditary (see Spiritual Successor on the YMMV page), it has some common elements with other Ari Aster works. These include:
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Terri kills her parents (and herself) with carbon monoxide; she attaches one of the hoses to her mouth, sending the toxic fumes right into her lungs.
    • One of the villagers in the ättestupa ritual doesn't die after jumping off the cliff, despite his legs being horribly mangled. The other villagers have to kill him by crushing his skull with a mallet.
    • Poor Mark gets his face peeled off and used as a mask. (The actual peeling is offscreen, thankfully.)
    • Simon gets blood eagled - his back ripped open to expose his lungs, his eyes stuffed with flowers and is suspended by ropes tied to his wrists and legs inside the chicken coop; to make things worse, by the time Christian finds him in this situation, we can see his lungs are still breathing...
    • Connie has weights forced on her and is tossed into a river by the men of the cult where she slowly drowns. Her body is shown later being carried in a wheelbarrow; her corpse appears to also be bruised and her arm broken, possibly indicating she put up a fight before being drowned which likely led to the cultists savagely beating her.
    • Finally, Christian is paralyzed, sewn into a bear carcass, and trapped in a blazing building.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Inquisitiveness about Hårga induces Mark, Josh, Christian, Simon, and Connie to go to Hårga, where they eventually become human sacrifices. Josh decides to ignore Hårga's very clear rules about not taking pictures of their sacred texts and sneaks into the temple at night, where he gets killed.
  • Dance-Off: Played with, and much more seriously than the trope usually is. It appears to be the case with the May Queen dance, but Dani wins, seemingly easily, without training as the others have. There are, however, heavy implications that she is being allowed to win so that she will want to stay, but it remains ambiguous.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: The Hårga decide who is the May Queen and thus has the power over life and death, as well as the highest-honored position in the group, via a group dance.
  • Death Glare: After Mark gets caught urinating on a sacred tree, a few of the locals won't stop glaring at him for the rest of the day, which unnerves him.
  • Deep Breath Reveals Tension:
    • Dani constantly does this because she's always on the brink of a panic attack.
    • The Hårga often do this as part of their rituals, although they deny feeling any tension.
  • Destructive Romance: Dani and Christian's extremely unhealthy relationship is falling apart at the start of the film, but is prolonged due to the death of Dani's family. As they continue to stay together, Dani's emotional well-being continues to decline, ultimately resulting in Christian's death.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Christian is, basically, kind of a dick. He's a bad boyfriend and he should have broken up with Dani a long time ago, and he certainly shouldn't have let her come on the trip. For these sins, he is paralyzed, sewn into a bear costume and burned alive.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Invoked by Christian's frozen, bemused face as he's placed in a bear suit to be burned alive, but the perpetually smiling and seemingly happy Hårga definitely embody this trope, especially with their downplayed response to some of their creepier activities.
  • Disturbed Doves: There is a shot of a flock of disturbed pigeons after the first body hits the ground at the Ättestupa ritual.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Aster has confirmed that the cultists are racists. They meet in the country, dress in white and have a perverted idea of religion that leads to them gleefully murdering people. Sound familiar?
  • Downer Beginning: The film begins with a prologue depicting Dani discovering that her sister has killed their parents and then herself. Cue the opening credits.
  • Downer Ending: At the end of the film, Mark, Josh, Connie, Simon, and Christian are all dead, with Dani groomed into joining the Hårga and manipulated into choosing to burn Christian alive as the final sacrifice in the cult's ritual.
  • Dull Surprise: Invoked. Due to Christian being paralyzed by Ulla's drugs, his outward reaction to being stuffed in a bear and left to die in a building slowly engulfing in flames never gets more emotive than slight bemusement.
  • Dwindling Party: Of the American college group (Dani, Christian, Josh, Mark) and the English tourists, Simon and Connie, only Dani survives.
  • Empathic Environment: Played with. It's freezing cold and snowy during the opening tragedy, then becomes a potential subversion in brilliant Swedish sunlight, which reflects Dani's pretty horrible way of coming to accept the cult as her new family.
  • Endless Daytime: Due to the high latitude and it being midsummer, "night" in the Hårga village is only a brief period of twilight. The sleeping quarters have black-out shutters to help the villagers sleep.
  • Ends with a Smile: Having broken into hysterical sobs at the sight of her ex-boyfriend Christian being burned alive, Dani, now crowned as the May Queen, smiles, either because she's a Woman Scorned, she's completely lost her mind, she's found her new family, or she's too high to understand what's happened.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Dani's first few scenes establish her as someone who is always apologizing and second-guessing herself.
    • Christian's first few conversations with Dani are half-hearted, establishing him as someone with one foot out the door of his relationship but not committing one way or the other.
    • The very first time we lay eyes on Christian's friend group, Mark is advising Christian to dump Dani and score with as many ladies as possible. He also refuses to move when Christian tries to take a call from Dani, establishing him as a rather rude and crude person. Josh says that Christian is letting his relationship distract him from his doctoral thesis, establishing him as someone who places academia above personal relationships. Only Pelle seems supportive, establishing him as a Nice Guy, at least on the surface.
  • Eye Scream: During the scene where Christian discovers Simon strung up in the chicken coop with his lungs pulled out, he observes that he is not only still (barely) alive but that he's had flowers inserted into each eye socket.
  • Face Cam: Used for one shot to illustrate Christian's shock and disorientation after an elder blows paralyzing dust in his face. This is then immediately followed by a first-person Impairment Shot of him sinking down.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The two elderly, who sacrifice themself for the community, do so with grace.
  • Facial Horror:
    • Ruben has an extremely deformed face as a result of centuries of deliberate inbreeding.
    • The old couple who sacrifice themselves in the ättestupa ritual both get their faces destroyed. The woman lands face-first on a large rock, ripping it clean off, while the man lands feet-first and shatters his legs, necessitating three other cultists to come by and cave his skull in with a mallet. Judging by the fact that they specifically aim for the head, this seems to be a required part of the ritual.
  • Fan Disservice: The sex ritual between Christian and Maja is extremely bizarre and not at all titillating, due to both the audience of older women moaning along with her and singing, as well as the fact that Christian is drugged and isn't entirely aware of what's going on, and the fact that Maja is only sixteen.
  • A Fête Worse than Death: The midsummer festival comes with quite a body count.
  • Folk Horror: A terrifying cult in the middle of rural Sweden.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The very first shot of the film shows a full-frame mural done in a semi-medieval/folk pagan style, detailing (in abstract fashion) the entire sequence of events that will unfold.
    • When the party first arrives in Sweden, Pelle's father greets Josh, Mark and Christian with a "Welcome", but specifically tells Dani "Welcome home", insinuating the Hårga's interest in assimilating her from the start.
    • A painting behind Dani and Christian at the beginning of the film shows a blonde woman kissing a bear. Christian gets paralyzed and forced into a bear skin at the end of the movie, essentially making him the bear and Dani — his girlfriend — the blonde woman in question.
    • While waiting to meet with the village elder, Christian is perplexedly looking at one of the drawings on the wall, that of a bear perishing in flames. Unknowingly, he is literally staring at his ultimate fate.
    • If you pay attention to the murals in the village dorms, you'll get a glimpse of the rituals in store for the rest of the film.
    • Josh is warned by Pelle to take "discreet" photos of the festivities. Josh then gets in trouble with an elder for asking to take photographs of a sacred text, then dies because he sneaks in to do it anyway.
    • When the visitors reached the village, a painted cloth displays a tale of a woman wooing a man by feeding him food with her pubic hair and menstrual blood baked inside of it. The final image shows her pregnant with his child. Maja, the girl infatuated with Christian, later performs this ritual on him and gets him to impregnate her.
    • Earlier in the film, some of the children in the cult are playing a game called "skin the fool". Whilst we don't see what happens to the rest of him, Mark — who has been nothing but a fool throughout the film — does indeed get skinned. His skin is later used to make a dummy wearing a fool's coxcomb.
    • When asked what happens to villagers after the age of 72, Pelle makes a throat-slitting gesture and then smiles. The others assume that he's making a joke, but he's not.
    • Pelle tells Dani that his parents died in a burning building. In the end, villagers and outsiders alike are sacrificed in a burning building.
    • There is a bouquet behind a photo of Dani on her mother's nightstand which resembles her final image as the May Queen.
    • After noticing a villager with a grudge leveling a constant Death Glare at him, Mark says, "Is this guy going to murder me?" The villagers do murder Mark shortly thereafter, and it's confirmed in the script that this IS the same villager that ultimately has his "revenge" on him by wearing his face.
    • While the guys are hanging out at a pizza place, Mark tells Christian he could be getting their attractive waitress pregnant. Pelle makes a quip about Christian later getting Swedish girls pregnant in June. Christian is later forced into a ritual to impregnate a young girl in the village.
    • While the group is driving to the village, Mark comments on the local women's beauty, and Josh explains that the Vikings used to grab the "best babes" from other countries and haul them back home. This is exactly what happens to Dani by the end of the film when she's pulled into the cult.
  • Forgotten Birthday: Christian forgets Dani's birthday and tries to make up for it with a piece of bread containing a single candle... which he fails at lighting, even after several attempts.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The film communicates the near-constant hallucinogenic-induced state the characters are in by distorting and warping the scenery, which in most cases is only noticeable if you're paying really close attention to the backgrounds. For example, Dani's parents and sister are visible after she's crowned May Queen, and Dani has several frightening fast visions of her parents, possibly just before their deaths.
    • If you look closely immediately after Josh takes a mallet blow to the back of the head and falls to the floor, you can see a small sliver of his exposed skull in the spot where he was hit.
    • In the same scene of the above, it's hard to notice upon a first viewing, but Pelle is the one to swing the hammer to incapacitate Josh.
  • Freudian Trio: The selfish, impulsive Mark is the id. The detached, inquisitive and introverted Josh is the ego. The dishonest and performatively nice Christian is the superego.
  • Genre Mashup: Takes Aster's affinity for relationship melodrama and combines it with horror of both pagan and psychological flavors.
  • Gorn: This film contains many scenes of graphic violence depicted in excruciating detail for shock value.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The ättestupa ritual puts excruciating focus on the injuries the old couple incur after jumping from the cliff. We get a close-up of the woman's head after landing on a large rock rips her face off as well as both the man's horrifically broken legs and his skull being caved in with a hammer (the latter shot even reappears later in the film as part of a nightmare Dani has).
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: After Christian runs out of the fertility ritual completely nude, he sees a group of people in the distance staring at him and almost immediately covers himself with his hands, creating some very dark humor in him prioritizing his modesty over his survival.
  • Held Gaze: Several examples, both of the romantic and platonic varieties:
    • Maja essentially seduces Christian with one after she kicks him.
    • A couple between Dani and Pelle, most notably when he's calming her down after the ättestupa ritual.
    • One between Dani and one of the female cultists while Dani's having a breakdown after seeing Christian having sex with Maja.
    • One between Dani and Christian when she's deciding whether to sacrifice him or one of the villagers.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • Much like with Annie in Hereditary, Dani has a moment of intense, grieved wailing following her hearing of her family's death, and it's agonizing to listen to.
    • Three synchronous scenes end with Josh, Dani and Mark hearing the faint sound of Connie's screams coming from somewhere in the forest. She's never seen again afterwards...
  • Hillbilly Horrors: A Swedish version. The Hårga live in a very isolated village, so of course when unsuspecting tourists are lured in with the promise of a nine-day festival, there's no easy way for them to leave...
  • Holding Hands: Pelle and Dani hold hands while they're talking after the ättestupa ritual, though she's slightly worried Christian will walk in and see. Pelle's not bothered by the possibility.
  • Holiday-Appropriate Weather: The weather during the midsommar feast is immaculate.
  • Homage: The film borrows shots, plot beats and even entire scenes from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974. This includes using almost entirely daylight as the main setting, using similar shots for the locals at a dinner table, a group of students road-tripping to a remote backwater area of a country, a character ritualistically cutting their palms and marking surfaces with their blood, a character being knocked out from behind by an antagonist wearing another person's face, and so forth.
  • Howl of Sorrow: Dani wails in anguish after being told that her sister killed herself and their parents.
  • Human Sacrifice: Over the course of a festival that takes place only every 90 years, the cultists of Hårga sacrifice nine people (four local volunteers, four hapless outsiders, and one select). This is only revealed towards the end of the movie, making clear that the deaths of Simon, Connie, Mark and Josh (which happened at various points throughout the movie and were seemingly not ceremonial) were all part of the Hårgan's plan and meant to be human sacrifices.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: The male target for the sex ritual is fed a love potion with the girl's pubic hair and menstrual blood baked into the food and mixed into the drink. Christian finds this out the hard way and is grossed out when he is unwittingly picked for the sex ritual.
  • Idiot Ball: In spite of not even wanting Dani to come on the trip, Josh does not see fit to warn her of the meaning of "ättestupa" before bringing along a girl with severe anxiety — whose entire family, including her elderly parents, just died in a murder-suicide — to witness two violent senicides. Pelle shares some of this, too, although the fact he grew up with the tradition may explain why he didn't think it would be a problem. And of course, Pelle intended to groom Dani into the cult to begin with, so on his part it was very likely deliberate to continue undermining her mental health.
  • Inspired by…: There is indeed a village named Hårga, and a myth about how the Devil once turned up to play at a dance there and played a song so infectious that everyone kept dancing until their bodies were worn down to their skulls.
  • Intimidating White Presence: The Hårga are all-white, and the three non-white visitors (Josh, Simon, and Connie) all die horrible deaths: Josh's skull is caved in, Connie is publicly drowned, and Simon is strung open in a "blood eagle" formation. In Simon and Connie's cases, this is heavily implied to be intentional, as Hårga member Ingmar seems to be in love with Connie and punishing her for not returning his feelings, as he refers to her as his ex-girlfriend despite her obvious confusion.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mark's urging Christian to dump Dani comes from male entitlement and personal dislike, but he's right that they're a mismatch and Christian can't help her with her problems. Also, their going to Sweden as a couple winds up costing his life and her sanity.
  • Karmic Death: While the Hårga as a whole pull off their ritual without a hitch, and get a new May Queen out of the deal, two individual cultists (Ulf, Mark's killer who skins his face, and Ingemar, Pelle's brother who murders Connie and Simon out of jealousy), come to gruesome ends. Although both men volunteer to burn alongside Christian and the corpses of the other tourists, they discover too late that the yew tree samples they've been given to dull their pain and fear do neither. Instead, they spend their last moments screaming in agony while realizing that the religion they've given their lives for has betrayed them. On a long enough timeline, it's not hard to imagine other cultists, perhaps even Dani herself, suffering similar fates.
  • Killed Offscreen: Simon disappears, presumably to the train station, and a disbelieving Connie disappears shortly after. Mark is never seen again after wandering off with a village girl. Connie and Mark are dead the next time they're seen, and Simon has been horrifically mutilated by the time Christian finds him in the chicken shed.
  • Kissing Cousins: Due to the relatively small population of the village, the village elders must approve of a match to avoid incest, and outsiders must be brought in to diversify the gene pool. Marriage between cousins is considered normal. That being said, the village oracle is always the product of incest.
  • Lottery of Doom: Near the climax of the movie, Siv (the Hårgan elder) declares that the ninth and last human sacrifice must be picked by the May Queen between a visitor from the outside and a separately chosen Hårgan. The Hårgan death candidate is then selected by way of a sophisticated hand-driven lottery wheel containing small wooden balls marked with runes, in which presumably each individual ball represents a person from Hårga. The Hårgan whose ball comes up, a certain Torbjörn, remains remarkably calm. Ultimately, he is not the sacrifice chosen by the May Queen.
  • Love Forgives All but Lust: Dani and Christian are extremely unhappy together, but Dani patiently puts up with his psychological manipulation, criticism, and general coldness towards her... until she sees him seemingly cheating on her with Maja (unaware he was drugged beforehand), in a position the Hårga might've put her so she could finally have enough of Christian. Shortly after that, in her new position as the May Queen, Dani decides to have Christian burned alive and sacrificed.
  • Male Frontal Nudity:
    • Josh is incapacitated by a man wearing one face and zero pants.
    • Christian is disrobed for the fertility ritual and then runs around completely naked in the middle of the village, with his penis on full display (if you look closely, it even has blood from Maja's hymen on it). This was his actor's idea.
    • Simon's blood-eagled body is fully nude, with his member visible in the first wide shot we get.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Twice. Both Mark and Christian are seduced without a single word from either Maja or Inge, who lures Mark away. While Christian is ultimately drugged before having sex with Maja, he does tell Siv that he's willing to sleep with her - all with just a few glances and smiles in his direction. Mark doesn't even need that.
  • The Masochism Tango: The film opens with Christian and Dani's relationship on the rocks and the two mutually frustrated. Dani vents to her friend about Christian's indifference, while Christian and his friends vent about Dani's instability. Christian even plans to break up with her, but the death of Dani's family compels him to stay until she's had time to recover.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Downplayed. While Maja casts three "love spells" on Christian, it's pretty clear his interest in her comes from his disinterest in Dani and the inhibition-releasing effects of psychedelic drugs.
    • Dani becoming the May Queen despite not training for the endurance test could be a sign of the gods' favor or that the other dancers just agreed to throw it.
    • The villagers repeatedly appear to share feeling including pain, sexual pleasure, and Dani's panic. Whether this is deliberate empathic behavior as a custom or a supernatural connection due to their religion being real is left vague.
  • Mercy Kill: The ättestupa ritual involves a massive mallet being used to put anyone unlucky enough to survive the fall out of their misery via head-smash.
  • Mirror Scare: On arrival at the Hårga place, Dani has a bad trip and flees into an outhouse where she sees her dead sister reflected in the mirror.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Dani stumbles on Christian having sex with Maja while other women watch. He isn't quite doing so voluntarily, thanks to drugs and some manipulation, but since it caps off his overall shabby treatment of her, Dani turns against him.
  • Murder by Cremation: A paralyzed Christian is burned alive as an offering.
  • Murder-Suicide: Dani's mentally ill sister, Terri, kills her parents and then herself by flooding the house with carbon monoxide.
  • Mushroom Samba: Psychedelic mushrooms and other drugs are used in many of the festival ceremonies. Dani has a nightmarish bad trip not long after arriving in the village, and they only get worse from there.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Played for dark, dark comedy with the fertility ritual, when a drugged-out Christian stares dumbstruck at the naked old women writhing around him. This in turn leads to...
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: After the fertility ritual, Christian runs around the village fully naked trying to cover himself.
  • Nemean Skinning: An interesting subversion. Christian is sewn into a skinned bear, but rather than being a display of strength on his part, it's done to him unwillingly as preparation for a ritual sacrifice.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Hårga is located in the north of Sweden but all the Swedish characters speak with southern accents.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Most of the Americans' deaths are done entirely offscreen, with a glimpse of their corpse (or part of it) after the fact being our only information about what happened.
    • Although we see Connie's body at the end, we only hear her horrifying screams from a distance and do not see her body until the end. (This is somewhat lessened by the director's cut, which showcases an additional ritual in which the villagers playact deciding to sacrifice a boy by drowning him and then deciding to spare him; the "sacrifice" wears the same outfit Connie's obviously water-bloated body later appears in. But that still doesn't explain what happens before they drown her.)
    • Mark's death is entirely offscreen, and all we see of him for the rest of the film is his torn-off face being used as a mask by one of the villagers.
    • We never find out what happens between Josh getting hit by a mallet and dragged away and Christian stumbling upon his lone, buried leg.
  • Nothing Nice About Sugar and Spice: Played with. Dani is a makeup-free tomboy for most of the film, but her Girliness Upgrade including wearing a huge floral dress marks her induction into a murderous cult and agreement for Christian to be ritually sacrificed.
  • Oh, Crap!: What breaks Christian out of his spell after the fertility ritual is Maja's insistence that she can "feel the baby" inside of her already.
  • Once More, with Clarity: The shot of Dani's parents seemingly sleeping in their beds in the opening scene gets repeated later where we learn that they actually Passed in Their Sleep due to induced carbon-monoxide poisoning.
  • One-Word Title: Following the director's debut Hereditary, Midsommar also fits this trope.
  • Palm Bloodletting: The elderly couple going through the ättestupa ritual get their palms cut with a knife and then smear their Bloody Handprints on a rune stone before jumping off the cliff.
  • The Paralyzer: The powder used to paralyze Christian is presumably "Zombie Powder", prevalent in Haitian voodoo.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In this case, literally and deliberately. Dani catches Christian having sex with the villager Maja amidst a crown of older women. Of course, Christian was manipulated into the cult's sex ritual against his will, has been drugged, and can't consent; but Dani doesn't know that - exactly as the villagers intend, as this ends up being the straw that pushes her into embracing the cult entirely and burning Christian alive at the end of the film.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The soundtrack is composed by The Haxan Cloak (aka Bobby Krlic), who, as a notable artist in the dark ambient genre, isn't exactly a pop star, but still has a storied music career outside of film soundtracks.
  • Psychotic Love Triangle: Two examples, one more overt than the other.
    • Simon/Connie/Ingmar: One of the most disturbingly subtle clues that the cult is not good. Simon and Connie are engaged, but Ingmar has a crush on Connie, who seems completely oblivious to it, and denies that they ever "dated" when Ingmar mentions it. As the cult is all white and Simon and Connie are not, they seem very unlikely to be welcomed by them, and when Simon and Connie reject the suicide ritual, they are brutally killed. It's possible that this was all intentional on Ingmar's part, to punish Connie for choosing Simon.
    • Christian/Dani/Pelle: This is a somewhat more ambiguous version, as it's never made clear if Pelle definitely wants Dani to himself or is actually trying to help Dani and Christian's relationship, but Pelle definitely encourages Dani to view the cult as her new home.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: The Swedish spoken by the other characters is deliberately left without subtitles to help the audience feel the same sense of isolation that the tourists do.
  • Re-Cut: A director's cut of the film was released a couple of months after its theatrical release. It's just under a half-hour longer, almost three hours total, and contains more looks at both the American characters' dynamics and the Hårga's rituals.
  • Red Herring: The caged bear the group passes at one point appears like a potential threat, but the most plot significance it gets is after it's killed, as Christian is burned alive in its carcass.
  • Religious Horror: This is a horror movie focused on a scary cult.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Lots of the foreshadowing is much more obvious on the second viewing. In particular, the very first image in the film, the large mural, depicts most of the plot.
  • Satellite Love Interest: A few purposeful examples.
    • Maja never speaks prior to her ritual with Christian. This seems to be a dig to his character that Maja can "seduce" Christian without saying a single word.
    • Similarly, the girl who beckons Mark over never speaks and it's not clear what, if anything, she knows about his death: did she kill him? Did she merely assist? Did she always know he was going to die?
  • Scenery Dissonance: The festival is bright, cheerful, and absolutely terrifying. It takes place during the summer solstice, which at this latitude means the sun never completely sets. It is in these bright and colorful scenes where the film's most disturbing moments occur.
  • Scenery Porn: For all the terrible things that happen within them, the village and its surroundings are absolutely gorgeous.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: After Connie is lured away by one of the elders, her distant, bloodcurdling scream can be heard by Dani, Josh, and Mark. We never learn what exactly was done to Connie, but considering that her wet, distended corpse is shown in a wheelbarrow at the end of the movie, it couldn't have been pleasant.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: While Christian looks visibly ill and spaced out during the whole fertility ritual, Maja's remark after he climaxes that she can feel their child inside her is what hammers in the gravity of the situation for him, and he dashes out of the temple immediately after.
  • Self-Made Orphan: The film begins with Dani's sister Terri murdering both of their parents before taking her own life.
  • Sexless Marriage: One of Christian's initial reasons for wanting to break up with Dani is that she's not interested or enthused about sex. He thus doesn't quite reject the attention of the village girls.
  • Sex Signals Death:
    • After being drugged and used to participate in a sex ritual, Christian dies not long after having sex with Maja (albeit non-consensual) at the hands of his scorned girlfriend Dani and the village.
    • Rather, the desire for sex. After complaining on the trip how much he wants to bed Swedish women and not having been able to, Mark gets lured away from his friends by one of the female villagers and is killed off-screen with his face torn off and worn as a mask.
  • Sexy Scandinavian: Mark makes a few jokes about the supposed beauty of Swedish women.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: All ambient sounds drown out, leaving only muffled voices, after Dani witnesses the ättestupa ritual, which shocks her to the core.
  • Ship Tease: Pelle is the only friend of Christian's to treat Dani kindly, tries to bond with her over their shared losses, gives her several longing looks which she doesn't notice, gives her a deep kiss after she wins the May Queen dance, and remembers her birthday. Depending on how you interpret Pelle, this could also be a Villainous Crush.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Following the ättestupa ritual, the disappearance and offscreen death of the relatively comical character Mark is the point where the film starts really ramping up the horror.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Early in the film, the college men are seated in the bar under a massive reproduction of the infamous Sophia Loren-Jayne Mansfield 'wardrobe malfunction' photo.
    • The parallels between this film and The Wicker Man (1973) are undeniable. Both films take place in the compound of a deceptively cheerful and open Nordic cult, both take place during seasonal solstices, both deeply delve into Pagan pageantry and tradition through an almost anthropological lens, both heavily thematise sacrifice for the greater good of a community, both feature maidens, fools and wild beasts as Leitmotifs, and both end with a reluctant outsider being triumphantly burned alive in a wooden effigy.
  • Shown Their Work: Every gory detail in the film is perfectly compatible on what we know of Norse Paganism, including the gruesome "blood eagle" sacrifice.
  • Smooch of Victory: Pelle gives one to Dani after she wins the May Queen dance.
  • Snow Means Death: It's snowing when Dani learns of her family's deaths.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • The film concludes with a gorgeous 10-minute orchestral music cue that accompanies the utter chaos of the Hårga communally screaming and Dani losing her last shred of sanity all while the fire temple (containing the sacrifices from both the Americans and from the cult's side save for a still-alive Christian) burns down in the background — arguably some of the film's most disturbing visuals. Justified in that the music conveys the sense of triumph that would be felt from the cult's perspective, as their traditions have been successfully upheld.
      • Played with a bit; the dissonance does suddenly drop at one point, turning into an array of ear-piercing sirens and drones as the camera pans around each member of the screaming cult and Dani, underscoring the harsh reality of the cult from an outsider's perspective, but the music ends up returning to its triumphant sound, as if to suggest that there is no turning back for Dani.
    • Also, the upbeat "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" by The Walker Brothers that plays at the start of the end credits is at odds with the drama that the audience just witnessed.
  • Stress Vomit: Many of the characters retch in response to the Ättestupa ritual, and Christian almost throws up when discovering various bodies. The only person to fully vomit is Dani at the sight of Christian in the fertility ritual.
  • Suddenly Bilingual: Subverted. During the May Queen dance, while tripping balls, Dani thinks she's spontaneously able to speak and understand Swedish with another girl. In fact, they're both speaking complete gibberish. Whether the girl is just leading her on or if they're really able to understand each other, and if so what the reason for it is, is unclear.
    "We don't need words to communicate! It's dancing!"
  • Suspicious Missed Messages: When Dani's replying email to her clinically depressed sister, who had emailed Dani what was basically a suicide note, goes unanswered in the beginning of the film, Dani begins frantically calling her parents and her sister, but her calls keep going to voicemail. Unfortunately, she has good reason to be worried, as her sister killed herself and their parents in a murder-suicide.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, but also downplayed. It's mentioned that Dani does see a therapist, but said therapist is not featured and Christian (unfortunately) still seems to be Dani's primary support system.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Dani has one in several moments: the day after learning about her family's deaths, and in the final sequence, when she has to choose whether to condemn Christian to die, then watches the sacrifice take place.
  • Throwing the Fight: Implied by the exaggerated pratfalls of some of the May Queen dancers until only Dani remains.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • All of Christian's party save for Dani show a remarkable lack of any survival instinct, with every member choosing to stay in the village after witnessing the violent ättestupa just for thesis material and (for Mark) the chance to score with some Swedish babes. By the time Christian willingly agrees to drink drugged tea after four other outsiders have mysteriously disappeared, he has crossed into another dimension of idiocy. And while it's true that they would be foreigners in a strange forest, they would probably have much better chances at surviving in the wilderness than staying with the murderous Hårga.
    • After accidentally defiling a sacred artifact, Mark makes no attempt at apologizing to an irate villager who views it as an Excrement Statement. Instead, he says "So what?" and makes the transgression worse. Even after noticing that the villager continues to shoot a Death Glare at him for the rest of the day, he ignores the red flags of another villager luring him away from the rest of the group and follows her.
    • Josh is given an extremely stern warning about not photographing a sacred book. He decides to sneak out alone, during the (still-bright) night, to photograph it secretly. Even if he didn't expect to be killed, he should have expected a severe reaction to breaking such a strict rule that certainly would have ended his thesis opportunity if he got caught.
    • This might well be a Justified Trope: it's plausible that a lack of common sense, bordering on stupidity, is a major qualification for being invited to the festival in the first place. Supporting this possibility is the fact that Dani, the only attendee Pelle didn't mean to invite, is the only one not to have done something foolish enough to get herself killed by the end.
    • Inverted with the old man who jumped off the cliff for the sacrificial suicide. For whatever reason, he decided to pencil-drop off the cliff when his wife had flopped down face-first and was killed instantly. All this does is snap his legs like toothpicks but leave him alive in excruciating pain until another cultist bashes his face in with a sledgehammer.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer doesn't even try to cover up Josh's death and contains shots from the final sacrifice.
  • Trauma Button: After losing her parents and sister, just the word "family" is enough to snap Dani out of a peaceful state and cause her to flee crying into an empty building or the woods.
  • Two Decades Behind: Played for Laughs. Despite the commune seeming like it came straight out of the Middle Ages, a villager mentions that the children are watching Austin Powers early in the film, and we later see them use a bingo machine when deciding which two to sacrifice. They're behind the times, sure, but not nearly as much as their beliefs and rituals would otherwise suggest.
  • "Ugly American" Stereotype: Downplayed. Of the four American tourists who travel to Sweden, only Mark is particularly obnoxious and boorish, and he is only interested in sleeping with hot Scandinavian ladies. Throughout the festival, he makes snide and belittling comments about the local culture, to the point that when he inadvertently desecrates a holy object, his reaction is to say, "So what?" An outraged villager makes a point of referring to Mark as "your American" when shouting at Pelle. For his part, Pelle jokes that butting into things is just what Americans do.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Simon asks "Are we just going to ignore the bear?" as the group passes a caged bear. Ingemar only says "It's a bear" in a disinterested tone, and walks right by.
    • Christian and Josh's reactions (or lack thereof) to the ättestupa, especially when contrasted with the reactions of Simon, Connie and Dani, who all freak out at the sight of two people committing ritual suicide in a gruesome fashion.
  • Wham Shot: Christian discovering that Simon has been given the blood eagle treatment.
  • With Friends Like These...: As soon as the Rubi Radr goes missing, Christian immediately throws Josh under the bus, telling the village priest that he and Dani don't consider him a friend or associate. It's too late to save Josh anyway, but Christian doesn't know that.
  • Woman Scorned: Though Christian has been a consistently bad boyfriend for years, Dani faithfully stays with him until she sees him having sex with Maja (unaware he was drugged beforehand). The next time they see each other, she condemns him to die.
  • Writer's Block: Christian is having real trouble with his PhD thesis. This being Christian, he expects a lot of sympathy for this even as he plans a two-week trip to Sweden, and he winds up just trying to steal his friend's topic.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • The ättestupa is basically that; it is a gruesome way on getting rid of unproductive useless eaters of the community.
    • Although they don't make Dani choose him, the Hårga drug Christian and encourage her to sacrifice him as soon as he has sex with Maja and presumably impregnates her.
  • Zipping Up the Bodybag: Happens to Dani's parents as a confirmation to the audience that they were in fact dead and not merely sleeping or unconscious.


Video Example(s):


Midsommar Ending

The ending scene of Midsommar depicts people being burned alive inside a building accompanied by an uplifting music piece.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (20 votes)

Example of:

Main / SoundtrackDissonance

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