A24 released the first trailer for Hereditary director Ari Aster’s follow-up, Midsommar. Aster and A24 re-team for Midsommar, the sophomore film from Aster that has been described as a “Scandinavian folk horror film” as well as an “apocalyptic breakup movie.” The studio, which also financed Hereditary, started teasing the film well before the trailer was dropped, posting a 15-second animated teaser to Twitter.
The film follows a couple, played by Jack Reynor and Florence Pugh, who are traveling through Sweden to visit their friend’s rural hometown for its fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. In addition to Pugh and Reynor, the new film also stars Will Poulter along with Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Ellora Torchia, and Archie Madekwe.
Check out the chilling trailer for Midsommar below:
If the trailer left you scratching your head, you’re probably playing exactly into Aster’s hands, and that isn’t a bad thing. Horror relies on manipulation and often times the best of the genre are those that feel clean, controlled; like you’re in good hands that happen to be taking you to some dark and frightening places. Judging by the first trailer, this looks to be dealing in a lot of pagan rituals. Filmmaker Ben Wheatley’s Kill List feels like the most recent, prime example of this kind of movie: A film that starts out as one genre and ends up firmly wedged in horror. A mystic, pagan-influenced riff on Scandinavian legends. Aster is no stranger to wearing his influences on his sleeve and with Midsommar he looks to be grabbing a lot from The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General, and The Blood On Satan’s Claw. Albeit, with a contemporary setting and a brightly lit Swedish locale.
A little background on the festival from which the movie takes its title. The Swedish festival of Midsummer is the time centered around summer solstice. Specifically, it’s the northern European celebrations that accompanies the actual solstice or takes place on a day between June 19 and June 25. It’s one of the oldest and most widely celebrated holidays of the year in Sweden, but to the uninitiated, some of the festivities could certainly come across as a little odd. The maypole, or Midsommarstången, a rather phallic tall pole with two large hoops at the top that many people believe originated as a symbol of fertility.
Something many Wicker Man fans will notice is, as well as in the Midsommar trailer, is called The Frog Dance. Participants hop around the maypole while singing the classic tune ‘Små grodorna’ (The small frogs), which describes frogs in (biologically incorrect) detail. Lots of drinking, flowers, and the hope for sunshine ensues. The brightly lit scenes seen in the Midsommar‘s trailer show tell-tale signs that Aster will be mutating this generally happy traditional festival into something more ominous.
A24 also released the first poster for Midsommar:
Last year’s Hereditary was certainly a polarizing horror film. Whether you found yourself on the positive or negative side, it’s no doubt the Toni Colette chiller had a skill and sense of craftsmanship that heightened the film’s prestige value. While the movie didn’t land any Oscar nominations, it did go on to clean up at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, winning Actress (Toni Collette), Supporting Actor (Alex Wolff), Best Director for Aster and Screenplay. The film also won Best Kill and Best Wide-Release Movie. With Midsommar, we could see Aster launched into the pantheon of distinguished horror filmmakers, and likely a transition into more “serious” award platforms.
Midsommar will hit theaters on August 9.