October is finally upon us and with it returns the annual, albeit slightly adjusted spooky festivities. While this year the traditional trick-or-treating is a bit trickier than usual due to CDC guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, one can still partake in the holiday fun by staying home and binge-watching scary movies. While some may prefer the classics such as the gore-infused “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” or the always creepy “Poltergeist”, others like myself have come to really appreciate some of the more recent horror films that take on a psychological aspect to them. Recent movies penned to the psychological horror category include “A Quiet Place”, “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”, and “In The Tall Grass” to name a few but one movie that has stood out to this author in particular was the 2019 horror flick “Midsommar”.
Released in and taking place during the summer, “Midsommar” centers around a group of five college students who travel to Sweden to take part in a midsummer festival that occurs once every 90 years. The group is quick to realize that there is something strange about their host community known as the Harga who seemingly live in unblemished peace between their constant frolicking in fields and the prolonged, warm embraces of the people. What begins as simply strange turns to outright horrific as the traditions of the festival grow worse and worse as the film progresses. The viewers are left in sheer shock as the group grows separated in both emotional mindsets and separated physically as disappearances start piling up throughout the latter half of the movie. Grotesque foreshadowing and unnerving symbology are expertly used throughout this movie by director Ari Aster, who also directed the 2018 horror film “Hereditary”.
One of the hallmarks of any quality scary movie is that the ending leaves the viewers with a plethora of unanswered questions. Like “Hereditary”, “Midsommar” closes with an ending that leaves viewers questioning their own inner emotions and morals, all the while pondering what would happen if one were to find themselves in these situations. I know I have these questions ringing in my head after watching the movie just last night. Would I have been able to stomach the mind-altering mania of the Attestupa tradition? How would I react to the tragically-consistent loss of family and friends that lead character Dani experiences before and during her time with the Harga commune? Is being crowned May Queen an accolade or a curse when the choice of who to sacrifice ultimately falls on you? All these and plenty of unanswered questions remain when the final scene of “Midsommar” wraps up and the viewer is left completely speechless.