Following his beloved feature debut in 2018’s “Hereditary,” Ari Aster directed “Midsommar,” a horror film starring Florence Pugh, centered around a group of American graduate students traveling to Sweden to study a remote village that turns out to have some odd traditions. The film is chock full of little details and hidden moments that serve to amp up the horror.
To start, the film opens on a beautiful mosaic painting that, on first glace, is purely aesthetic in nature. However, if you take a longer look at it, you realize the painting goes through the entire plot of the movie. It includes the death of Dani’s family, her arguments and heartbreak over her boyfriend Christian, as well as the film’s most gruesome and intense moments. “Midsommar” is a personal favorite of mine, and this detail completely skipped by me on my first few watches.
Similar to this, a moment early on in the film foreshadows Dani and Christian’s ends. In Dani’s apartment, there is a painting of a girl wearing a crown standing with a bear, done by Swedish artist John Bauer. This is obviously pointing towards the film’s ending, where Dani is crowned the May Queen at the end of the midsummer festivities, and Christian is stuffed into a bear before being burned alive in a ritual sacrifice.
Finally, Dani’s family appears throughout the film, despite dying in the opening scene. The image of Dani’s sister after her suicide follows her through the film, appearing in a dark bathroom during a bad mushroom trip. Additionally, her sister’s face is manifested in the moving forest outside of the village throughout Dani’s journey to become the May Queen, and her parents can even be seen in the audience of villagers celebrating her coronation as Queen.
Just like “Hereditary,” “Midsommar” is absolutely jam packed with small details and story/character moments that elevate it above standard modern horror films. For any fan of horror, these two films are a must-see, if only to appreciate the attention to detail the crews put into these films.