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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 directed by Ari Aster (of Hereditary fame) starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, and William Jackson Harper.

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.

Midsommar contains examples of:

  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The nightmarish ättestupa ritual takes place on Dani's birthday; to add insult to injury, Christian forgets the date.
  • Advertised Extra: Ruben features prominently in the trailers for the film, but he only has about a minute of screentime and doesn't really factor into the plot.
  • A Fête Worse Than Death: The whole Midsommar festival.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Dani's emotionally unstable sister kills herself and their parents during a depressive episode and Dani is haunted by the thought that she could have prevented it.
    • Christian is drugged, raped (which Dani sees through a keyhole and mistakenly thinks is consensual) and then is sentenced to death for it (and numerous other reasons) by his emotionally-damaged girlfriend.
    • Dani is gaslit and cheated on (the latter albeit non-consensually) by her boyfriend, Christian. Earlier she has a nightmare that Christian and his friends abandon her at the commune.
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    • The film's most recurring theme is this: Dani knows something is wrong, is talked or talks herself out of her feelings, and then things go badly, just as she first feared.
  • Affably Evil: The Hårga, for all of their manipulation and brutality, are incredibly genuine with their empathy towards one another and never fail to be unceasingly polite. They also seem to sincerely believe in their rituals and traditions as a way of life.
  • 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 — he's breathing.
    • At the end of the movie, Christian is paralyzed, and is helpless to protest as Dani chooses him to be the final victim of the ritual. He is sewed up into a disemboweled bear and left inside a temple to burn alive. Although his mouth isn't open, we can hear his muffled screams throughout the process.
      Ulla: Christian... Hi. Hello! There you are! Listen: You can't speak. You can't move. All right? Good.
  • Anti-Villain: Pelle is in complete lockstep with the cult the entire time, but he seems to actually like Dani and comes across as completely genuine in his desire to make her a part of the family.
  • Anxiety Dreams: Dani dreams of the rest of the party abandoning her in the village, only for the dream to segue into the much deeper trauma of her family's death.
  • Apologises a Lot: Dani apologizes and takes the blame for a lot of the issues between her and Christian. This has probably helped keep their inert relationship from truly dying.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    "Do you feel held by him? Does he feel like home to you?"
  • Artistic License:
    • The costumes of the cult looks nothing like the Sverigedräkten or a Hälsingedräkt. Not that being 100% accurate to Swedish culture is the film's principal concern, but having a confined Swedish cult wearing Ukrainian wreaths and vyshyvankas is as odd as having a English person walking around in striped shirts and berets.
    • Characters frequently refer to the sun as "father". In Scandinavian cultures, the sun is often referred to with feminine nouns. The Old Norse word for sun is a feminine gendered noun, and the sun was in fact personified as a goddess in Norse Mythology.
    • Hårga is located in the north of Sweden, but all the Swedish characters speak with southern accents.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Simon ends up being blood-eagled, which includes his back 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. 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 probably doesn't justify being burnt alive as part of a ritual sacrifice while unable to move or scream.
    • 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.
  • Audience Surrogate: While all of the Americans are visibly disturbed at the ättestupa ritual, Simon and Connie most vocally portray the pure horror and disgust of what an outsider's reaction to it likely would be.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Big Bad Friend: Pelle is a lifelong member of the cult and likely only befriended the group in the first place because he wanted to draw them in as sacrifices (or, in the case of Dani and possibly Christian, have them join the community.
  • 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 having 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.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • The Hårga as a whole, but especially Pelle. He's a friendly and thoughtful guy and the only one of Christian's friends who shows empathy towards Dani. The extent to which his kindness to her can be read as genuine is up to the audience, but his friendship with the rest of the party was all an effort to lure them to their deaths.
    • Christian is a spiteful, gaslighting manipulator, especially in his relationship with Dani, but just in case you wondered if it was relationship-specific, instantly betrayed Josh - who was passionate about studying folk rituals - to compete with him over the Hårga.
  • 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".
  • 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 ass to make him go faster) are so bizarre that they almost verge on funny. Then Christian bails when he hears Maja claim she could 'feel the baby already inside of her' and hilariously attempts to cover up his genitals while running away.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: Pelle reassures the recently-orphaned Dani that he understands how she feels because he also lost both his parents.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The cultists' beliefs are very bizarre and even brutal, especially by modern standards.
  • Body Horror: Between most of the deaths in the film and Ruben's deformed, incest-bred face, this film has spades of this.
  • 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 below), it has some common elements with other Ari Aster works. These include:
  • Creepy Child: Ruben, the cult's oracle.
  • 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.
  • 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 highly honored position in the group via a group dance.
  • 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.
  • Daylight Horror: 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.
  • 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: The Hårga often do this as part of their rituals, although they deny feeling any tension; Dani constantly does this because she's always on the brink of a panic attack.
  • 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.
  • Death by Sex:
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Downplayed and zig-zagged due to the very murky nature of the situation. Christian is drugged and then forced to join a fertility ritual by the cult. Dani, who finds him in the act out of context, condemns him to death for it, and the final shot of the movie is of her openly smiling. However, it's downplayed in that:
    • The Hårga are clearly the villains and have been subtly manipulating Dani for the entire film and have more than likely convinced her that Christian acted of his own free will.
    • Dani's mental health is fairly clearly completely destroyed by this point (confirmed by the script), and this is far from the only thing Christian has done to earn Dani's ire.
  • 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.
  • Drop the Hammer:
    • 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.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: 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.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness:
    • Dani the day after learning about her family's deaths.
    • Also Dani in the final sequence, when she has to choose whether to condemn Christian to die, then watches the sacrifice take place.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Evil Redhead: After Maja loses her virginity to Christian, she gets a red vest and cap and bright red lipstick, to symbolize she's now a sexual being.
  • 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.
  • Facial Horror:
    • Ruben has an extremely deformed face as a result of centuries of deliberate inbreeding.
    • The old couple who sacrifice themselves 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.
  • 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.
    • Early on, 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 on 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gaslighting:
    • When Dani quite calmly confronts Christian about his agreeing to the Sweden trip without telling her, he insists that he had told her until she's apologizing to him for bringing it up. The two physically switch places to emphasize the reversal.
    • Christian tries this again with Josh after stealing his topic, initiating a conversation about it in order to make it seem like it's Josh's fault and that he's in the right. Josh isn't having it.
    • Pelle and the cult wind up doing this to Dani, insisting that they are providing emotional support and understanding she needs to coerce her into joining their ranks.
  • Genre Mashup: Takes Aster's affinity for relationship melodrama and combines it with horror of both pagan and psychological flavors.
  • Hate Sink: The film has three of these.
    • Christian Hughes is the emotionally distant boyfriend of Dani Ardor who is pushed by his friends Mark and Josh to end the relationship before attending a festival in Sweden. Christian continually pushes Dani to the side from forgetting her birthday. He even steals Josh's thesis intending on making it his own.
    • Mark is a culturally and emotionally insensitive Manchild who establishes his unlikability by urinating on an ancestral tree and dismissing it as being insensitive to the Hårga culture.
    • Josh is warned to refrain from taking pictures of the Hårga's sacred texts but does so anyway in response to Christian stealing the aforementioned thesis.
    • All three men have influenced Dani's mental health and life and are sacrificed with little fanfare in the grand festival held every 90 years.
  • 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 the characters hearing the faint sound of Connie’s screams coming from somewhere in the forest. She’s never seen again afterwards...
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Dani for her boyfriend Christian. And later Christian with the young seductive villager Maja. Subverted example as neither Christian nor Maja are heroic for their actions.
  • 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.
  • Homage: The film borrows shots, plot beats and even entire scenes from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974. This includes using almost entirely Daylight Horror, 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.
  • Horror Hippies: The Hårga are a group of Swedish pagans who live in the countryside, work the land, have public sex rituals, ritualistically commit suicide, and also ritualistically commit mass murder.
  • 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 when he is unwittingly picked for the sex ritual.
  • Incest Is Relative: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lady in Red: After Maja has sex with Christian, she gets a red vest, a red cap and bright red lipstick, to symbolize she's now a sexual being.
  • Light Is Not Good: The cult exclusively dons white clothes and are often associated with bright colors such as white and yellow. The village is also bright and sunny, even past 9:00 PM due to the low latitude, which the American characters find strange and off-putting.
  • Lighter and Softer: Whilst Midsommar is still a nightmarish and horrifying film, it is lighter in tone than its spiritual prequel Hereditary. It's got more moments of levity, marginally less gore and the ending, whilst by no means "happy", is less soul-crushingly bleak than its predecessor.
  • Love Forgives All but Lust: Dani and Christian are extremely unhappy together, but Dani patiently puts up with his gaslighting, criticism, and general coldness towards her...until she sees him cheating on her with Maja, 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.
  • Mad Oracle: Ruben is both physically and mentally handicapped by design; in the eyes of the cult, his mind is "unclouded by cognition" and thus more susceptible to visions.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Ruben, the cult's inbred oracle, is kept in an attic above the room where the sacred texts are held, where he spends all his time smearing paint into the holy book. This ends up being something of a subversion; Ruben, despite his deformities, is cherished by the Hårga rather than shunned, and he only lives above the sacred texts so he can add to them. Of course, he was purposefully inbred, so it's not quite as rosy as that makes it sound.
  • Male Frontal Nudity:
    • Josh is killed by a man wearing one face and zero pants.
    • Christian is left completely naked in the middle of the village. 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.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Dani's last name is Ardor, a synonym for "intense"—and indeed, Dani is shown to be intensely emotional throughout the movie. The word is borrowed from French, where its original connotation was literally "burning", which given that Dani decides that Christian should be burned alive at the end may also have another connotation.
    • Christian's name sets him at odds with the village's pagan culture.
  • 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.
    • Given his state, Christian's death at Dani's choosing is a twisted version of this.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness. Full 10. Heck, the question is about mass Human Sacrifice!
  • 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, first when a drugged out Christian stares dumbstruck at the naked old women writhing around him, then immediately after when he runs around the village still trying to cover himself despite knowing he's in mortal peril.
  • 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: None of the Swedish cultists actually speak with a region-appropriate accent.
  • 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.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: The old man in the ättestupa ritual survives his fall by landing on his legs instead of his body, like his partner. His legs are shattered beyond recognition, and he promptly has his skull caved in by a mallet.
  • Not What It Looks Like: 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.
  • 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.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Christian hijacks Josh's plan to write his PhD thesis on Hårga, going behind his back to Pelle so that it would look like his idea first.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The soundtrack is composed by The Haxan Cloak, 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.
  • Re-Cut: A director's cut of the film was released a couple months after its theatrical release. It's just over a half-hour longer and contains more looks at both the American characters' dynamics and the Hårga's rituals.
  • 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.
  • 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 Porn: For all the terrible things that happen within them, the village and its surroundings are absolutely gorgeous.
  • 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.
  • Sexy Scandinavian: Mark makes a few jokes about the supposed beauty of Swedish women.
  • 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, Mark's disappearance and offscreen death marks 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.
  • 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 Americans' corpses 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.
  • Spiritual Successor:
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Every single member of the cult smiles eerily almost all the time.
    • Dani also acts like this early in film, repressing her anxiety and depression and avoiding conflict in the group.
      • She becomes a type III Stepford Smiler in the final shot as she comes to accept the Hårga as her new family.
  • Stranger in a Strange Land: Dani, who has undergone an unbelievably traumatic experience, is the "stranger" in the strange land of the Hårga.
  • 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.
  • Throwing the Fight: Implied by the exaggerated pratfalls of some of the May Queen dancers until only Dani remains.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • 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.
  • 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 on, and we later see them use a bingo machine when deciding two from among them 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. Specially 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.
  • 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 probably 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. The next time they see each other, she condemns him to die.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Dani's trauma starts off with the discovery that her sister killed herself and their parents, and then only goes downhill from there. She is highly prone to panic attacks after this tragedy, including one she has during a bad shroom trip. Between witnessing a gruesome ritual suicide of two elderly members of the cult and discovering that her emotionally distant and obliviously abusive boyfriend is cheating on her, it's no wonder she's finally pushed over the edge and becomes the cult's May Queen.
  • 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.


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 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / SoundtrackDissonance

Media sources:

Main / SoundtrackDissonance