Midsommar director reveals inspiration behind folk-horror masterpiece

The horror movie Midsommar (out July 3), is a very strange trip of a film and lead actress Florence Pugh was not wrong when she recently described it as “a helluva ride.” But after an early screening of the movie on Tuesday at the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn, NY, writer-director Ari Aster revealed that the inspiration behind the terror tale was one with which pretty everyone could relate.

“Well, about four years ago, I was brought a broad, folk-horror concept, by a Swedish production company, named B-Reel,” said Aster, who also directed last year’s Hereditary. “They pitched me an Americans-going-to-Sweden-and-then-getting-killed-off concept, and I, at first, didn’t really see a way into that, and it didn’t feel like me. But then, I was also, at the time, going through a break-up which was really fresh, and I saw a way of marrying the break-up movie with the folk-horror subgenre, and then kind of making like this big operatic break-up movie. And so, from there, it became very personal.”

In the film, Pugh and Jack Reynor play an American couple, Dani and Christian, whose lovers’ bond has seen better days. The pair embark on a trip to Scandinavia with friends Mark (Will Poulter), Josh (William Jackson Harper), and Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), the latter of whom has invited them to visit his remote village in Sweden. “They’re a really weird, culty kind of commune,” Reynor told EW earlier this year. “Everybody’s all dressed in white, they have strange kinds of social cliques.” The town is celebrating Midsummer — “a particularly special iteration of the festival,” said Aster ominously.

Following yesterday’s pre-release screenings, critics declared Midsommar a worthy follow-up to Aster’s acclaimed Hereditary. David Sims of The Atlantic argued on Twitter that the director “takes the very idea of a sophomore slump and sets it ablaze” while Shannon McGrew of the website Nightmarish Conjurings wrote “I was super nervous going into Midsommar because of my deep love for Hereditary, but holy s— you guys, Midsommar is a masterpiece.”

Watch the trailer for Midsommar above.

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