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[Horror, probable spoilers] Midsommar

weaponofchoice

A feral enigma
Validated User
^^We had some dumbass teenagers in the cinema with us when we saw Teeth, who all went deathly silent when the titular items made their presence known, aside from a whispered 'I-is that something that can happen?'

I saw Midsommar last night and overall enjoyed it. It was shot and scored beautifully - as with Hereditary, the set and costume designers and decorators did a stellar job. The sleeping barn was particularly well decorated, with lots of little nods to foreshadowing and symbolism.

Spoilers for Midsommar and Hereditary follow:
Spoiler: Show

It obviously owes so much to The Wicker Man - and I wasn't sure if the bear suit scene wasn't a dismissive reference to Nicholas Cage's infamous performance in the terrible remake. I liked the swerve that the May Queen wasn't the sacrifice - but then, the idea that the Queen would be the sacrifice was used to trick Edward Woodward up on Summer Isle too.

It also has the twist(?) that nothing supernatural actually happens - the Source is unproven, and no Dark Young shambles out of the woods or prophecy is fulfilled. The only monsters and demons are human, or the ones brought with us. I was concerned that the death of Dani's family had somehow been orchestrated by the cult, but no - just a normal tragedy.

Likewise, the bit I enjoyed most about Hereditary was before any of the supernatural was proved/revealed - just the psychodrama of a family collapsing, dealing with grief, guilt and an abusive parent - then compounded by terrible events and all the grief, fear, anger and human emotions that causes. The set design and claustrophobia really trapped you in the family anguish. I was mentally screaming that they all needed to get therapy, and thought that the film might be nebulous about if it was a supernatural haunting or just a horrible event.

I almost felt that tension was diffused when spirits, magic and Paimon appeared.

I did enjoy it being a horror movie set almost entirely in daylight - I know darkness has its own fears, but I've always found the image of fire against blue skies to look more sinister, and making daytime creepy requires a lot more work.

Just like making it all look lovely and idyllic - though finding a patch of ground on which those tables would stay level and where children wouldn't get grass stains all over their ritual robes is pure Hollywoo magic - or something more sinister... 'Azathoth has blessed us that little Torvald hasn't spilled soup on his robes! Ia! Ia!'

The acting was excellent too - Florence Pugh was great and it's always a joy to see Chidi William Jackson Harper. Poor Will Poulter did a good turn as Mark, but it felt that the character wanted to be on the American Pie: Eurotrip. (I'm sure even now some talented person on Youtube is recutting it to make a Swedish Sex Comedy Trailer.)

I'd agree with the previous posters that Ari Aster really likes head trauma and nudity as motifs. The former felt maybe like an attempt to recapture that shocking scene from Hereditary, but it felt like a bit of overkill given the dread and shock from the cliff jumping. I'd agree with a previous poster that the 'ritual rape' scene had weird out-of-place-in-the-film feeling - there were sniggers in my cinema too, especially when someone was pushing on his butt. Maybe it's just our cultural weirdnesses. hangups and embarrassments around sex and nudity?

Maybe it lends credence to the idea of Golden Bough cargo-cult paganism - if they're recreating a ritual only described by prurient Victorian scholars imagining what a coven of young pagan women might be getting up to in the woods (before pillow-fights and sensual showers back at the dorm...)

I'd be interested to know how much of the cult's ceremonies was borrowed from real sources and hat was made up whole cloth by Aster. The dancing until you fall down and last person standing is made Queen sounds like a genuine custom, and the practice of slipping something of yourself into the food of another to make them fall in love with you is a pretty universal magical thing (I know that there's magical folklore in the Southern US about not eating red sauces in case the woman has added her menses to it to make you fall in love with her) - just like burying part of the harvest to give thanks.

Maybe some of the others are more from the historical scandal 'Do you know what those baby-eating barbarians in the next valley get up to?'

But all in all an enjoyable film - I wonder how it would work as a modern horror RPG scenario. Hereditary felt like it should have had Delta Green agents turn up at the end, maybe Midsommar should have them at the beginning?
 

Proteus

Yours Pedantically
Validated User
Much like the idea of human sacrifice in a burning wicker man, there's a lot of stuff in Midsommar that is historically attested, but not very convincingly.

The Ättestupa senicide and the "blood angel" both fall into this category.
 

weaponofchoice

A feral enigma
Validated User
Much like the idea of human sacrifice in a burning wicker man, there's a lot of stuff in Midsommar that is historically attested, but not very convincingly.

The Ättestupa senicide and the "blood angel" both fall into this category.
Yeah, that was my thinking - I know humans are capable of pretty creatively terrible things, but some things sound more like grotesque stories rather than proven fact.

How's the language - for any Swedish speakers?
 

Arethusa

Sophipygian
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The “blood angel” thing seems to have started as a vague, very short, abbreviated, poetic description possibly mistranslated which might have referred to this one guy carving a picture of an eagle in a man’s back as he killed him in revenge for his father’s murder.

Then the story got told and retold again and again, each time with undocumented, unjustified newer peaks of gory, grisly, kind of ... gloatingly grossout details added on top (with a possibly not too hidden agenda of making the pre-Christian religions look really bad). By the nineteenth century I think they had gotten to the currently settled version of the story, including the anatomically impossible details.

A lot of the online images seem to be cribbed and recopied from the artwork of one person who doesn’t understand back anatomy.
 

moondog548

Zip Zap Zoop!
Validated User
Yeah, Simon's lungs inflating were actually the only thing in this movie that broke my immersion, and the otherwise-magnificent diligence in crafting immersion is what I think makes this movie so transcendent.
 

DocShoveller

Godwin's Lawman
Validated User
One of the credits at the end says Harga concept "devised by" Martin Karlkvist and Patrik Andersson.
 

Menocchio

Eccentric Thousandaire
Validated User
Yeah, Simon's lungs inflating were actually the only thing in this movie that broke my immersion, and the otherwise-magnificent diligence in crafting immersion is what I think makes this movie so transcendent.
I took that to be that Christian was high as fuck. We see a lot of impossibly pulsating things in the periphery in this movie. At one point the trees have a face. But yeah, lungs do not work that way.
 

moondog548

Zip Zap Zoop!
Validated User
I took that to be that Christian was high as fuck. We see a lot of impossibly pulsating things in the periphery in this movie. At one point the trees have a face. But yeah, lungs do not work that way.
Thaaaat's a good point.

One of my favorite moments is there at the May Queen's feast when you know we're in the endgame, and Christian feebly asks a random old man what's going on, and the old man just looks at him and claps once, sending a shockwave rippling through the unreality surrounding Christian, and seeing him appropriately cowed by this slightest of gestures, turns back away. :p
 

Weebles

Active member
Validated User
I have to admit, at the end when Dani is looking at Christian with rage (and so many flowers!), I thought to myself:

“Where. Are. My. DRAGONS?!”
 
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