Midsommar

Midsommar is a 2019 folk horror film written and directed by Ari Aster and starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, and Will Poulter. It follows a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a festival that occurs once every 90 years, only to find themselves in the clutches of a pagan cult.

Psychology student Dani Ardor is traumatized after her sister Terri kills herself and their parents by filling their home with carbon monoxide. The incident strains Dani’s relationship with her emotionally distant boyfriend, cultural anthropology student Christian Hughes. She later learns that Christian and his friends Mark and Josh have been invited by their mutual Swedish friend Pelle to attend a midsummer celebration at Pelle’s ancestral commune, the Hårga, in Hälsingland. The celebration occurs only once every 90 years and Josh, also an anthropology student, wants to write his thesis on it. Christian had hidden the trip from Dani, wanting to break up with her before leaving, but invites her along after she finds out about it.

The group flies to Sweden and arrives at the commune, where they meet Simon and Connie, an English couple from London who were invited by Pelle’s communal brother Ingemar. He offers the group psychedelic mushrooms, and Dani has hallucinations of Terri while under the drug’s influence. Tensions rise after the group witnesses an ättestupa, a tradition which sees two commune elders killing themselves by leaping from a cliff onto a rock. When one of the elders survives the fall, the commune members mimic his wails of agony and crush his skull with a mallet, while commune elder Siv attempts to calm Dani and her friends by explaining that this is a normal thing every member does when they reach the age of 72. The scene disturbs the group but they decide to stay long enough for Josh to finish his thesis, while Simon and Connie decide to leave. An elder tells Connie that Simon has already left without her. Confused and suspicious, Connie decides to leave on her own; later, a woman’s wail is heard in the distance.

Christian also decides to write his thesis on the Hårga, creating a rift between him and Josh, who accuses him of copying his idea. Meanwhile, Dani’s already weak mental state deteriorates, exacerbated by her decision to leave her supply of the anti-anxiety medication Ativan at home. After Mark unwittingly urinates on an ancestral tree and incites the fury of the commune, he is lured away during dinner by a female member who feigns interest in him. That night, Josh sneaks into the temple to take a photograph of the commune’s sacred runic text, which an elder had previously forbidden him from doing. He sees a nude man wearing Mark’s skinned face and is hit over the head, after which his body is dragged away.

The next day, Dani is coerced into taking more psychedelic drugs and ends up winning a maypole dancing competition, subsequently being crowned May Queen. At the same time, Christian is given more drugs before being coerced into a sex ritual designed to impregnate one of the female members, Maja, while older naked female members watch. After discovering Christian and Maja having sex, Dani has a panic attack, during which the commune’s younger women surround her and mimic her cries. After the ritual, Christian comes to his senses and tries to run away, but he instead discovers Josh’s leg planted in a flowerbed and Simon’s body (which has been turned into a blood eagle) in a barn. Christian is then paralyzed by an elder.

The commune leaders explain to Dani that, to purge the commune of its evil, nine human sacrifices must be offered. The first four victims are outsiders (Mark, Josh, Simon, and Connie) lured to them by Pelle and Ingemar, while the next four victims are commune members (the two elders sacrificed during the ättestupa and two volunteers from the commune in the form of Ingemar and Ulf). As May Queen, Dani must choose either Christian or a local villager to be the ninth and final victim. She chooses to sacrifice Christian, who is stuffed into a disemboweled brown bear’s body and placed in a small wooden temple alongside the other live sacrifices and corpses. The temple is set on fire and the commune members celebrate by mimicking the screams and wails of those being burned alive. Dani initially sobs in horror, but gradually begins smiling with a distant look in her eye.

This is a mind fuck for the most part. Tons of symbolism and messages in the film. 7.5 outta 10!

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