If you loved director Ari Aster’s seductively horrifying 2018 film Hereditary, you may be pleased to hear that Aster is back for round two of mind-bending madness. His new movie Midsommar just hit theatres the other day, and I was one of the first to go view it on the big screen. If you are curious to learn more about the director’s new movie, check out Midsommar: A Character Experience. It’s a movie well worth the watch, if you can take it.
In lieu of the new release, I have noted four things Aster does right when creating his brilliantly shocking films.
**If you have not yet watched Midsommar and/or Hereditary, this post may contain spoilers**
1. The trailers of Aster’s movies are ingeniously vague and misleading
You can tell from the clips that Aster doesn’t truly want to reveal anything to you before you are plunged into the worlds he spins into reality. All his trailers leave you curious and wanting more: “what is this movie really about? I’ve got to know.” And when you find out, it does not disappoint.
2. Aster is a master at portraying family grief
In both his films, viewers will find parallel scenes of grieving female misery at the loss of a child or sibling. They are not just cries but wails of next-to-near-perfect true emotion.
These portrayals of raw emotion are so great, they will make you want to run out of the theatre or shut the laptop closed and bury your head into a pillow to make it stop, if you have any ounce of empathy in you.
3. Aster combines images of beauty and terror seamlessly
During Midsommar, I was taken aback by the way I was in awe of the cultural and folkloric beauty of the sunny landscape and cinematic shots while simultaneously recoiling at the horror of yet another act of atrocity committed by the cult members. Aster has a remarkable method of foreshadowing by glossing the camera over beautifully crafted carvings and murals depicting gruesome and grisly scenes of violence. It also helps that the cult members relish in their horrific ritualistic sacrifices and view them as positive acts to appease the spirits.
In Hereditary, the dollhouse the mother labours over throughout the movie is also a beautifully-depicted parallel that reflects the most horrific scenes of the movie.
4. Aster escalates horror like no other
The movie characters will be engaged in some everyday conversation about realistic daily issues or about a single occurrence of something that will be rendered obsolete and unimportant in the next moment when something absolutely obscene occurs.
The decapitation scene in Hereditary is the most unexpected scene of the entire movie. Aster shocks viewers by removing who we thought was a key character from the list of those alive. From that moment on, the movie lets neither the characters nor the viewers rest on their laurels at any point.
In Midsommar, the joyful festivities are uneventfully giddy up until the very moment when the first elder cult member bashes her face into a rock on the plunge to her death. Even after the gruesome scene of the cult members taking turns caving in the skull of the second elder cult member, Aster manages to calm down both the characters and the audience with picturesque beauty of landscape and culture, only to shock us again later on in the same way; this repeats throughout the entire movie.
Ari Aster displays such masterful direction, it’s hard to believe Midsommar is only his second movie. But as they say, quality over quantity; Aster’s first two movies have grasped the attention of many fans who await his third.
I for one cannot wait to see what the new director has up his sleeve for his next film.
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