Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Isabelle Grill
OUR RATING: ★★★★☆
Horror written and directed by Ari Aster. Midsommar (2019) follows a couple, Dani and Christian (Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor), who are traveling through Sweden to visit their friend’s rural hometown for its fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
Dani: [talking to her friend on the phone about Christian] It’s in his tone, like, you can hear it in his voice, he’s just working up the nerve
to say something.
Dani’s Friend: So be direct. Confront him.
Dani: What if I’ve scared him though? I’m always roping him into my family crap.
Dani’s Friend: How do you rope him in?
Dani: I’m always leaning on him! Like I even called him today in tears because my sister wrote another stupid scary email.
Dani’s Friend: That’s what he’s there for.
Dani: What if I’m scaring him off?
Dani’s Friend: What did your sister write?
Dani: Just some ominous bulls**t, like she always does, and it’s torture. And I lean on him constantly for support. Like, what if I have overwhelmed him, and he thinks that I just have too much baggage?
Dani’s Friend: Well, if that’s the case, then good riddance, right?
Dani: No, not if I went too far, if I leaned too much.
Dani’s Friend: You didn’t. He should be there when you need him.
Dani: Yeah, but what if I need him too often and it becomes a chore?
Dani’s Friend: Then he’s not the right guy. Because it shouldn’t ever be a chore. Would it be a chore if he leaned on you?
Dani: Yeah, but he doesn’t ask me for anything. I’ve never even seen him cry, so I’m the only one that’s leaning.
Dani’s Friend: Or the only one opening up. The only one making yourself vulnerable. That’s intimacy.
Mark: Dude. You have got to get off the fence with this.
Christian: [referring to Dani] What if I regret it later and I can’t get her back?
Mark: You don’t want her back!
Christian: But I might.
Mark: Okay, well, then you can b**ch to us about how much you regret it for that day, and then we’ll remind you again that you’ve been wanting out of this stupid relationship for like a year now, and then you can find a chick who actually likes sex, and doesn’t drag you through a million hoops every day.
Josh: Do you think that there is a masochistic part of you that is playing out this particular drama to avoid the work you actually need to be doing?
Christian: What work do I need to be doing, Josh, exactly?
Josh: Well, I don’t know, your prospectus, maybe, your PhD?
Christian: Wow, okay, thanks for the psychoanalysis.
Mark: It’s not about academics, Josh.
Josh: I’m just trying to get you focused.
Pelle: And don’t forget about all the Swedish women you can impregnate in June.
Christian: Okay, guys.
Mark: Don’t forget about all the Swedish milkmaids.
Mark: [as Christian gets a call from Dani] That’s not her again. Seriously? Oh, my God. She needs a therapist, dude.
Christian: She has a therapist.
Mark: Oh, so then she should call her therapist and not you. It’s literally abuse. She’s abusing you.
Christian: [gets up to answer the call] Excuse me.
Mark: Mr. Pelle’s invited us to an authentic hippie midsummer at his yodeling farm.
Dani: Oh, yeah?
Christian: I mean, we were talking about it. We were thinking about it.
Dani: For when?
Josh: Mid-June to mid-July.
Mark: Yeah, two weeks from now.
Christian: Yeah. I mean, that’s if we even go. I’m probably not going to go, but, yeah, we were talking about it.
Christian: [later when they are at Dani’s apartment] You okay?
Dani: Mm-hmm. Fine. That was just really weird.
Christian: What was?
Dani: Sweden. I had no idea.
Christian: Well, what do you mean? Because I told you I wanted to go.
Dani: Okay, fine, but I didn’t know you were going.
Christian: I just decided today. I wasn’t keeping it from you.
Dani: You already have a ticket.
Christian: I’m sorry?
Dani: Okay, well, just imagine if you were at a party, and someone said, “Hey, what are you doing for summer?” And then my friend said, “Oh, we’re going to China for three months, and we’re going to be leaving in two weeks.”
Christian: It’s Sweden, for a month and a half.
Dani: And it was the first you’d ever heard of it.
Christian: I told you I wanted to go to Sweden.
Dani: No, you said it would be cool to go.
Christian: Yeah, and then I got the opportunity, and I decided to do it.
Dani: Look, I don’t mind you going. I just wish you would’ve told me, that’s all.
Christian: Well, I just apologized, Dani.
Dani: You didn’t apologize, you said sorry, which sounds more like, “Too bad.”
Christian: Maybe I should just go home.
Dani: What? No. No. I’m just trying to understand.
Christian: And I’m trying to apologize.
Dani: And I don’t need an apology. I don’t, I just wanted to talk about it, that’s all.
Christian: I really think I should just leave.
Dani: No! No, no, no, no. Please, please, please. I’m not trying to attack you. I’m not.
Christian: It really feels like you are.
Dani: Well, then I’m sorry. I’m, I just got confused.
Christian: I invited Dani to come to Sweden. So you guys know. But she’s not actually going to come, but I invited her, just to not make it weird.
Mark: You invited her to…
Christian: Mm-hmm. But she’s not coming.
Josh: She doesn’t want to?
Christian: I invited her, and she accepted, but she’s not actually coming to Sweden.
Christian: Guys, you know what she’s been going through.
Mark: Yeah, no, dude, I just, I thought it was…
Josh: Yeah, dude, nobody minds.
Mark: I thought you were saying something else, that’s all.
Christian: Okay, that’s great. And just so we’re clear, you guys told me to invite her, and you all know that she’s coming. Agreed?
Pelle: So you’re coming to Halsingland?
Dani: I guess so, yeah. And, we’ll actually be arriving on my birthday.
Pelle: Well, happy birthday.
Dani: Thank you! Yeah, Christian says you’ve got this special week planned.
Pelle: Yeah, it’s sort of a crazy nine day festival my family’s doing. Lots of pageantry, special ceremonies, and dressing up.
Dani: That sounds fun.
Pelle: It’ll probably seem very silly. But it’s like theater.
Dani: Yeah, Christian says you’re from like a commune, right?
Pelle: Yeah, we’re a small community. Here. I’ll show you.
Dani: [as Pelle shows her photos from his phone] Oh, wow. I see what you mean about the pageantry.
Pelle: Yeah, we make those clothes special for every winter and summer solstice. I mean, everybody sort of does everything together.
Dani: That’s an interesting symbol.
Pelle: Yeah, we’re taught the Runic alphabet, so.
Dani: Woh, who’s that one?
Pelle: That’s last year’s May Queen.
Pelle: You know, I’m very, very glad you’re coming. I think it’s very good you’re coming.
Dani: Thank you.
Pelle: Also, I never had the chance to tell you, but I was so very sorry to hear about your loss.
Pelle: What happened, I mean, I can’t even imagine. I mean, I lost my parents too.
Pelle: So I kind of have some idea.
Dani: [looking upset] I’m sorry.
Pelle: No! No, I’m sorry.
Dani: No, you’re… I’m going to just go to the bathroom. Thank you.
Pelle: [as they arrive at the commune] Hey, guys, so these are younger people from my village. They’re also returning from their trips outside. Come on over. Hey! These are my friends from America.
Mark: What time is it?
Christian: It’s 9:00 PM.
Mark: What do you mean?
Christian: What do you mean?
Mark: That can’t be right! The sky is blue!
Christian: It’s fine, it’s Sweden.
Mark: That’s not fine! Why is it like that?
Pelle: It’s okay, Mark. It’s the midnight sun.
Mark: That feels wrong. I don’t like that!
Pelle: I promise you, it’s okay.
Mark: I’m not okay.
Siv: Welcome to Harga, 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!
Connie: [referring to Dani and Christian] So how long have you two been together?
Dani: Oh, jeez.
Christian: Just over three and a half years.
Dani: Four years.
Christian: No? Really?
Dani: Yeah. Four years in two weeks.
Christian: You’re right, I’m sorry. You’re right. Four years.
Christian: Yeah, how did you guys all meet?
Ingemar: Well, we were all working on the same farm, and funny enough, I was dating Connie when Simon and me first became pals.
Connie: Well, we’d been on a date. And I didn’t even actually know it was a date, so.
Ingemar: You’re right. No, no. I meant that Connie and me had just become friends. We decided to be friends. And that was just before Connie and Simon started dating. And now they’re engaged.
Ingemar: Which is amazing, yes, congratulations.
Simon: Yeah, thanks. Yeah, we actually asked Ingemar to officiate the wedding.
Ingemar: Let me show you where we sleep. Let me show you the Rotvalta!
Simon: [referring to the bear sat in the cage in the commune] So we’re just going to ignore the bear then?
Ingemar: It’s a bear.
Pelle: What do you think?
Christian: It’s like another world.
Christian: People just sleep here?
Pelle: Yeah, all the younger ones, until we turn thirty-six, and then we move to the laborers house.
Josh: Why thirty-six?
Pelle: Well, we think of life like the seasons. So you’re a child until you’re eighteen, and that’s Spring. And then at some point, we all do our Pilgrimage, which is between eighteen and thirty-six, that’s Summer. And then from thirty-six to fifty-four, we’re working age, which is Fall. And then finally from fifty-four to seventy-two you become a mentor.
Dani: What happens at seventy-two?
[Pelle motions that they die]
Christian: Not a lot of privacy.
Mark: Yeah, what do you do when you need to j**k off? Especially with all these d**ks on the wall. There’s a lot of d**ks.
Dani: [referring to the photos on the wall] Are these the May Queens?
Pelle: Yeah. Right. You’ll actually be here for that.
Josh: And who are your May Queens?
Pelle: Every mid-summer, we have this dance competition, and the winner gets crowned.
Dani: Oh, wow.
Pelle: Tomorrow’s a big day.
Josh: What’s tomorrow?
Pelle: First of the big ceremonies. Attestupa.
Christian: What’s that?
Pelle: It’s too hard to explain. You’ll get a better sense tomorrow.
Josh: Wait, seriously?
Christian: You can’t just tell me now?
Josh: Wait, you’re not talking about an actual one?
Pelle: I mean, it’s pretty actual.
Christian: F***. Do you know what it is?
[Josh raises his eyebrows, indicating he does]
Dani: Is it scary?
Mark: [as they watch one of the commune ceremonies] Somebody should tell those girls they’re walking stupid.
Christian: How long do they typically stand?
Pelle: We’re going to stand until it’s right to sit.
Josh: I mean, you know, I’m doing my thesis on midsummer. That’s the reason why I’m here.
Christian: Yeah, but not on this community. I mean, you’re going to Germany and England next.
Josh: Well, you knew I was going to want to do this.
Christian: No, I didn’t.
Josh: Oh, my God.
Christian: I mean, did you even know until just now?
Josh: Christian, of course you did! Okay, do you think I don’t know what you’re doing? It’s actually kind of outrageously unsubtle. The fact that you’re being this bold about it, I’m honestly kind of impressed.
Christian: What the f***, man? What does that mean?
Josh: Yeah, what the f***! This is what I’ve been working toward, and you know it. That’s why you look so guilty right now, because you know. You know that what you’re doing is unethical, and leechy, and lazy. And, frankly, it’s kind of sad.
Christian: F*** you!
Josh: No, dude, not f*** me! Find your own subject! Or your own passion. And, because, alright, look, I’m actually invested in this. This is not some glorified hobby that I’m casually dipping my feet into.
Christian: I’m going to do my thesis here. If you’re going to do it here too, I’m open to collaborating. And if not, I guess we can both do separate theses on the Hargas.
Dani: I’m really sorry, Pelle. Thank you for inviting me, but I really have to go. Can someone maybe drive me somewhere?
Pelle: [referring to watching two commune elders leap to their death from a clifftop] I know I shouldn’t have let you stay for that. I mean, I know it looks extreme. But we only…
Dani: I don’t know why I’m here, Pelle! I don’t know why you invited us. I don’t know. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I’m here.
Pelle: Okay, okay, okay. It’s fine. It’s okay.
Dani: I don’t know, and I can’t…
Pelle: Come on. Come on, sit down.
Pelle: Dani, please. Please sit down. Dani. I invited my friends because this is a once in a lifetime thing, and I wanted to share it. Especially with my friends who I knew would appreciate it. Because I am proud of this place.
Dani: Okay. Okay, but I’m not an anthropologist, and I don’t understand any of this. I don’t get it.
Pelle: Yes, yes, yes. I know. I know. And, and yet, I was the most excited for you to come.
Dani: I really want to go, Pelle. I don’t want it.
Pelle: Okay. I know what you’re going through, Dani.
Dani: What am I going through?
Pelle: Because I lost my parents too.
Dani: What? No! No!
Pelle: Yes, yes, yes.
Dani: Pelle, that is not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about my family!
Pelle: Yeah, I know that’s not what you’re talking about, but..
Dani: I’m not talking about my family! I’m talking about…
Pelle: I lost my parents when I was a little boy. They burned up in a fire.
Dani: No, I wasn’t talking about that!
Pelle: My parents, they burned up in a fire, and I became, technically, an orphan. So believe me when I tell you that I know what it’s like. Because I do, I really, really do. Yet my difference is, I never got the chance to feel lost, because I had a family here, where everyone embraced me, and swept me up. And I was raised by a community that doesn’t bicker over what’s theirs and what’s not theirs. That’s what you were given. But I have always felt held. By a family. A real family. Which everyone deserves. And you deserve.
Dani: [as Pelle holds her hand] Pelle, Christian could walk in.
Pelle: He’s what I’m talking about. He’s my good friend, and I like him. But, Dani, do you feel held by him? Does he feel like home to you?
Christian: [after watching two commune elders leap to their death from a clifftop] Hey. How you doing? Today was tough. Are you going to be okay?
Dani: Are you not disturbed by what we just saw?
Christian: Yeah, of course I am. That was really, really shocking. I’m trying to keep an open mind though. It’s cultural, you know? We stick our elders in nursing homes. I’m sure they find that disturbing. I think we really need to just at least try to acclimate.
Ulf: [in Swedish, to Mark who is unwittingly urinating on an ancestral tree] What are you doing, you f***ing idiot? Get away! Put your disgusting d**k away!
Mark: [zips up his pants and starts to walk away] What? Okay, relax. Relax! What did I do?
Ulf: [in Swedish] These are our ancestors! You’re pi**ing on my people!
Mark: Pelle, what is going on?
Pelle: What happened? What happened?
Ulf: [in Swedish] Your little f***ing American friend! He’s pi**ed on the Rotvälta!
Pelle: You pi**ed on the ancestral tree.
Mark: The tree. So what?
Pelle: Yes, yes.
Ulf: So what?
Mark: I didn’t know.
Pelle: No, it’s, that tree is tied to all of our dead.
Mark: [as they walk away Ulf starts sobbing] It’s a dead tree though. It’s dead.
Pelle: Yeah, yeah, I know. But it’s important to us.
Mark: I just had to pee. I didn’t know it was special.
Sven: We describe it like emotional sheet music.
Josh: What does it say?
Sven: Well, each runic letter stands for one of the sixteen affects, which are graded from most holy to most unholy. This one, for example, is about grief.
Sven: You can see at the end, however, we have blank pages. This is because the Rubi Radr is a work forever in progress. Forever evolving. We have many, many hundreds of these.
Josh: And who decides what gets added?
Sven: Well, this iteration is being written by Rubin.
Josh: The disabled?
Sven: Since birth.
Sven: [referring to Rubin] He draws and we, the elders, interpret. You see, Josh, Rubin is unclouded by normal cognition. It makes him open for the source.
Josh: What happens when Rubin dies? Do you just wait for a baby that is not clouded?
Sven: No, no, no. Rubin was a product of inbreeding. All of our Oracles are deliberate products of inbreeding.
Josh: Can I take a photograph?
Josh: A photograph?
Sven: No. Absolutely not.
Josh: Okay, sorry.
Sven: Absolutely not.
Stev: We have something regretful to announce. This morning the nineteenth Book of Rubi Radr was found missing from the Temple. We don’t want to point fingers, yet, we kindly ask that whoever took it to return it to its original place. You can leave it in the Temple, which will be left unguarded, and unwatched. Nobody needs to know it was you.
Sven: Where is your friend, Josh?
Christian: I know. We have no idea.
Sven: He and your other friend, they both disappears the same day. You see how it looks?
Christian: Yes, obviously. But I swear to you we’re in the dark on this. We’re just as confused as you are.
Dani: Well, we did see Mark go off with that girl last night.
Stev: What girl?
Christian: Yeah, but Mark wouldn’t have done this. Josh on the other hand, he came to bed with us, and when we woke up, he was gone. And if he did take that book, I just pray you understand, we don’t associate as friends of his, or collaborators, or anything. We would just be so embarrassed to be connected to this in any way, shape or form.
Sven: Let’s hope it gets returned.
Christian: I hope so too.
Ulla: [hands Christian a cup] For you.
Christian: Thanks. What is it?
Ulla: It’s… Sorry. Spring water with special properties.
Christian: Oh. Okay.
Christian: What does it do?
Ulla: Oh, it breaks down your defenses and opens you for the influence.
Christian: Okay. Thanks.
Ulla: You’re welcome.
Christian: [offering the drink back] You know what, I’m worried I’ll have a bad trip.
Ulla: Oh, no, no. You won’t. You won’t. Trust me.
Dani: [as Irma places a crown of flowers on her head] What’s happening?
Irma: You are our May Queen.
Irma: You won!
Dani: What does that mean?
Siv: Now, it’s traditional for the May Queen to bless our crops and livestock. And after the luck you just inherited from that salt herring, we should all be doubly encouraged.
Dani: Can Christian come with me?
Siv: Nay. The Queen must ride alone.
Ulla: [after Christian has been paralyzed by an elder] Christian? Christian.
[we see Ulla from Christian’s point of view as he opens his eyes]
Ulla: Hi. Hello, there you are. Listen. You can’t speak. You can’t move. Alright? Good.
Siv: [as the cult gathers to purge the commune of its evil] On this, the day of our deity of reciprocity, we gather to give special thanks to our treasured sun. As an offering to our father, we will today surrender nine human lives. As Harga takes, so Harga also gives. Thus, for every new blood sacrificed, we will dedicate
one of our own. That is four new bloods. Four from Harga. And one to be chosen by the Queen. Nine in all, to die, and be reborn in the great cycle.
Stev: The four new bloods have already been supplied. As for our end, we have two already dedicated, and two who have volunteered. Ingemar and Ulf. You have brought outside offerings. Thus volunteering your own bodies. You will today be joined in harmony with everything. And to Pelle, who has brought new blood, and our new May Queen, you will today be honored for your unclouded intuition. And so, for our ninth offering, it is traditional that our fair Queen shall choose between a preselected new blood and a specially ordained Hargan.
Stev: [reading the name from what looks like a lottery ball that’s been chosen] Torbjorn. Honorable Torbjorn, please step forward.
Stev: [wheels Christian in his wheelchair next Ingemar and Ulf] And Christian Hughes.
Stev: [to Dani, who has been crowned as May Queen] These are the candidates for the ninth and final offering. We patiently await your verdict.