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You are here: Home Arts & Entertainment Don’t Follow the Light! The Delicious Menace of Midsommar
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Don’t Follow the Light! The Delicious Menace of Midsommar

midsommar movieThe darkness, we all know, can be scary indeed. But in the new horror flick Midsommar we learn that unrelenting light is an even more terrifying prospect, leaving nowhere to hide and nowhere to reflect, thus breeding an environment in which logic gives way to rationale. And filmmaker Ari Astor, the mastermind behind last year’s hit Hereditary, paints his characters—and humanity—in a harsh light indeed.

Dani is a young woman who’s very much alone in the world. She moves in rooms that feel empty despite their furnishings, sending e-mails to family that go answered and text messages to a boyfriend who’s slow to respond. That boyfriend, Christian, wants to break up with her—but after a terrible tragedy befalls Dani, he feels obligated to stick around.

His reluctant (shall we say un-Christian) kindness is a variety of cruelty, a type of gaslighting. Dani never feels completely secure, especially around Christian’s friends. Nevertheless, she accepts a begrudging invitation to travel with them to a Swedish village for its nine-day-long “midsommar” festival.

Soon the gang’s in Hårga, where the sun shines nearly 24 hours a day and the white-frocked, flower-crowned natives welcome them into the bosom of their insular community. An episode with hallucinogenic mushrooms ensues, leaving viewers uncertain whether the rest of the sinister tale is merely Dani’s bad trip.

There are feasts, songs and rituals, the last of which grow increasingly eerie, even shocking. Yet somehow there’s always a reason for our characters to stick around—especially Dani, who has unexpectedly found a sense of community among the blissed-out Maypole dancers. It’s a stark contrast to the increasing space, both metaphorical and physical, between her and Christian. In one memorable scene, he surprises her with a piece of birthday cake but can’t manage to light the candle; it’s a vignette that will take on profound meaning as the film’s climax unfolds.

Even as Christian and his friends lose their grounding in Hårga, Dani finds her way. She grows powerful within the tribe, but if Midsommar has a moral message, it’s that power corrupts. Dani’s final smile, as the screen dims, is the definition of chilling—especially because you find yourself cheering for the loss of her moral compass. You won’t return home fearing every odd noise in your house, but you may end up fearing yourself.

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