Midsommar (Directors Cut): A Film Discussion Do you feel held by him? Does he feel like home?
Updated: Aug 8, 2020
Source: Twitter: @Fierysadness
On July 2nd 2019, I walked a couple miles from where I was staying to watch a 10:10 P.M. showing of Midsommar. As soon as Spider-Man: Far From Home was over, I rushed out of the theater, ran across to the other cineplex, and made it just in time to see my most anticipated film of the entire summer. After seeing Midsommar that night I struggled immensely with sleep for the next two days. Those two days I consistently had one thing on my mind: Midsommar. I absolutely loved this film and immediately seen it for a second time the following week. This horror film written and directed by Ari Aster without a doubt is the best film of the entire summer, for a second year in a row Ari Aster claims the best film of the summer movie season. Everything about this film is excellent from Cinematography to Cast to Production Design to Horror Elements to Comedy Elements to Themes and especially... The Score done by Bobby Krlic, we'll discuss some composed song choices in a bit.
Before I begin talking about the Directors Cut and more detailed feelings about this film, to my readers this will be a spoiler discussion. I'll be going through significant scenes and moments of the film, while talking about the new additions I've noticed from the directors cut... You've been warned.
Ari Aster blessed us with another masterpiece of a horror film, I don't say "Masterpiece" and "Horror film" in the same sentence quite often. Other than Hereditary and Suspiria (2019), it's hard for me to call a horror film a masterpiece. Maybe it's because I want more out of a horror film than just to be scared or entertained, sure I maybe asking for much, but I am a lover of film so why shouldn't I want the best out of any genre?! I couldn't believe Midsommar was going to have an actual theatrical release for the directors cut, especially here in Vegas. I mean I can see it being shown in New York or California.... But it has gotten a release in more selected theaters than those two states, very impressive coming from a low budget horror film, that has been out for two months from a little company called A24. The directors cut has a run time of 2 hours of 51 minutes, about half an hour more than the theatrical cut... Works for me! In a way I can understand why the producers wanted Ari's cut to be cut down more, as today's general audience would look at an almost three hour run time and go "Eh three hours... Pass." I mean Martin Scorsese’s Silence didn't make much money with a run time similar so I get it. I just believe either way two hours and twenty minutes to almost three hours isn't much of a difference, plus it's still an A24 film so either way I believe it would've had the same result, critically speaking maybe better. So the main question must be asked: Is watching the directors cut worth watching?! The answer is YES. The directors cut feels more grounded and developed with our characters and the cult, than the actual theatrical release. In a way I do say it improves from the theatrical final cut release, more so in one significant new addition in the directors cut. Both versions are fantastic regardless, I feel I'm siding with the directors cut only because one scene that really gives Christians and Dani's relationship to collapse completely.
Let's start with the opening of Midsommar. The art work basically templating the beginning, middle, and end of our film... It was beautiful. Loved the artwork, loved that this happened to be the entire film all along, it was a refreshing new look. We then follow Dani's sisters suicide and parents death, to me it's arguably the most terrifying dark opening I've seen in quite sometime. You're sitting there in your seat... Just flat out empty and disturbed by the gas mask her sister is wearing, just completely unsettling. What drives this entire sequence is the composed song Gassed... I mean this track is incredible. Just the way the violin starts, then goes towards a dark crescendo, it compliments this entire scene perfectly as I've received goosebumps every single time I watched this scene followed by that song. Then we head towards an upbeat finale of the song followed by the title credits, if you weren't thinking in your head "It's official: This is going to be great" while grooving to the beat... You're not watching the movie right. So the directors cut features an extended scene, where Dani finds out Christian is going to Sweden. In my opinion this extended look becomes more developed than the theatrical cut. Dani begins breaking down crying, as Christian becomes annoyed and even slightly guilty, to the point in order for Christian to make her to stop crying... He invites her to come along to Sweden, claiming he wanted to invite her all along as he was trying to be "romantic" about it. This scene works better than the original because now we know how Christian invited Dani, he felt completely guilty as she would never shut up about it, unless he invited her. This scene feels relatable, like anytime someone whines to me to make me feel guilty, I feel obligated to just give them what they want so they can just shut up... It's bad, but heck this is the only time I can understand Christian here. It also makes the scene moving forward with Christian and the boys funnier.
The transition from Christian's friends house, to the airline bathroom is still a sick transition. In the directors cut the drive to the festival is actually longer, featuring jokes, Josh maybe considering doing his thesis on Nazi culture, Christian having no idea what he's doing his thesis on, and Pelle foreshadowing brain washing. I kind of liked that this scene is cut, I did like the laughs and enjoyed the conversation Josh was having in the car... But the thing is it does give away one of the themes of the film, regarding one being manipulated to join a cult. It pretty much confirms one of the horror elements regarding how one can be manipulated to become a member of ones cult, being completely blind though there are sinister things happening regarding the cult. I like that it's cut because it challenges the audience to think what the film is trying to explore with it's themes, rather than being handed one of them out in the open. When we get to our first destination, we are introduced to one of the funniest moments of the film and a bad trip. Mark is flat out hilarious, being completely frighten it's still day light when it's suppose to be night time. Though you’re laughing, you can understand one fearing this simple change. Dani trips out seeing a disturbing image in the outhouse.
We get to our final destination and it is breathtaking, featuring beautiful cinematography, costume design, and absolutely creative production design as well. These small wooden buildings... Sometimes resembles from a Wes Anderson like style, you really can't get enough of these sets and locations. We are introduced to a new scene, the first supper featuring a plum dish and a giving thanks to the crop song. I felt this scene works well just because we now know why Mark is discipline, rather than being obnoxious and curious when the first supper in the theatrical version "The Last supper" is introduced, it feels more developed and it’s also intriguing to watch. The last supper scene is extended, as there is a joke included made by Mark... That scene would've brought the house down, hilarious as I'm surprised it didn't make the cut. What I noticed towards the epic suicide ceremony scene this time around, was there is painting all over the scripture. It feels like a reference towards cult members going against God and the bible. They just do their own thing, as you can see they just paint over what is suppose to be guidelines, but they are against constructed religion... Something worth noting. The epic suicide ceremony Attestupan perhaps is a great scene of suspense, I've seen this film three times and this scene still puts me on the edge of my seat, as it finally concludes... It still makes my jaw drop to the floor, as I just feel completely disturbed. It's a great unsettling disturbing scene, you know it's a great sequence of suspense when you know it's going to happen yet you still feel squeamish of when it's bound to happen.
So here comes the beginning of Dani becoming inspired to join this cult. The elderly lady explains why this man and woman committed suicide, as this is the cults belief on this subject. You understand the meaning behind their ways, but you know it's completely wrong. Dani was now beginning to lure onto this cult, though she began to feel completely broken again, I do believe her eyes change colors during these events and when she is explained why they chose this direction, she starts to reason with them cause she has no one else left in her life. We're now introduced to a couple new scenes, including Mark watching a TMZ report on someone giving oral sex on his phone and Christian now becoming a selfish prick stealing Josh's thesis, which then he becomes acquainted to the blonde chick and Maja. I'm glad Mark watching some TMZ report video got cut because there is no cell service in Sweden, so how would he be able to watch it?! I did however thought the scene with Christian being acquainted with the blonde chick and Maja felt needed, both characters felt completely developed now especially the blonde chick.
So the final addition I noticed from the directors cut, is the one scene I felt NEEDED to be in the theatrical cut... The Lake scene. Christian and Dani begin to talk as the cult members invited them to another ceremony, where Dani displays an emotion of disappointment which comes out funny. Like having to watch two elderly people commit a brutal graphic suicide, you’d think “Oh God, what new nightmare am I bound to witness next?!” We're introduced to a ceremony, where it has a kid being chained to the rock, as they were going to throw the kid in the water, causing him to drown. Dani couldn’t take another sacrifice, especially it was involving a kid so she had the courage to stop the cult from killing the child, as Dani becomes more upset as she tried to talk to Christian. She wanted her and Christian leaving the festival early. Christian however didn't want to go, as him and Dani began to have an argument. This is where the relationship coming to an end becomes completely developed. Now it's completely understandable why Dani chose Christian to be sacrificed at the end of the film. I mean the way he makes her feel like the bad guy, regarding her giving him flowers earlier... You just want to punch this guy straight up in the face. He's nothing but a self centered, selfish, lazy prick, with no soul whatsoever. This scene should've been in the theatrical cut, it all feels completed with Dani and Christian's relationship, as you also understand the reference one of the cult members was saying about courage when Dani was declared May Queen.
So I'll quickly talk about a couple moments before wrapping up. The May Queen sequence... Awesome, I loved that whole entire scene, it's so much. I hear complaints about why Christian keeps taking these drugs from this cult, despite knowing weird shit has been happening. Have you not learned anything? CHRISTIAN DOES NOT CARE ABOUT ANYBODY BUT HIMSELF. You think he's concern about his friends disappearing?! No, all he cares about is himself and the urge to get a quckie from one of these Swedish milk maids (Mark voice), it makes sense why he’s taking more drugs. Everyone's favorite moment in the entire film: Christian cheating on Dani with Maja poetic sex scene... For some reason I love coming to the theater for this scene, just to hear and see other people's reactions, it gets me every time. This scene basically shows what will come for Christian after moving on from Dani: Just a soulless corpse, just going around partner after partner gaining nothing from them. As Christian finishes, you can sense some embarrassment watching him as he's running around in fear naked. Letting go a woman like Dani, just to go screw around with multiple women is embarrassing, that's why this whole aftermath compliments this moment well. Followed by Dani crying with a group of gals, expressing pain of knowing she just got cheated on. This was the final straw for Dani, this was the time for her to FINALLY completely let go of Christian, as she can start a new life with a new home, family, and even a relationship with Pelle. Besides disturbing imagery and a couple frightening moments, the true horror elements rely on manipulation regarding one being influence to join a cult and letting go of a toxic relationship. Getting over a breakup and toxic relationship I’ve already discussed in my original review, so I’ll just talk about the cult element.
It didn't hit me about the manipulation horror element, until I listened to Ralph Sepe's take on the film on the Sardonicast podcast. Dani feels completely empty inside, while we also learn... She has nobody left in her life. No mom, no dad, no siblings, no other family members, and her boyfriend is AWFUL. Most whom experience tragedy like this, begin to believe God neither does exist or feels their completely against them. She felt betrayed by God and that is why she decided to go forward joining this cult. She’s so blind by the sinister things this cult is doing, that it doesn't matter to her... She found a new home and a new family to go to. Like Ari Aster said Midsommar is a fairytale, because Dani becomes a stronger character over the course of the film, letting go her toxic relationship as she burns the bridges she has with Christian, as she's free from the toxic energy of her past relationship. I mean it's a delightful beginning to end of her arc, I enjoy that ending every single time followed by Fire Temple. But you have to keep in mind... These people are still not good people, they've resulted in violence as the answer to solve those whom are against their ways and disobey their traditions. I mean visitors got murdered because they got sicken by the Attestupan ceremony and freaking Mark got his face peeled off, for accidentally peeing on the scared ancestoral tree.... These solutions to these disagreements and dispute are a bit much don’t ya think? Dani resulting in this way makes sense in her eyes, in her mind she believes God took away her entire family, so what harm is it to her if those whom she barely knew, Christian and his friends whom don’t care for her die?! Like earlier when Pelle discussing brain washing, she becomes brain washed herself to believe these people in this small village are reasonable good people, she found a new family and a new home she can now rely on, because they were there for her in her darkest times... It's suppose to be a happy ending, but however it’s a twisted dark end as well.
In conclusion: I'm changing my grade for Midsommar to an A, as it becomes one of my favorite films. Though I still would like a scene where Dani and Christian's relationship were at their best, it would make Dani’s struggle to let go work better for the audience. But that's really the only complaint I have now, this film has improve on every new watch I have with it. It's a beautifully crafted folk horror film, with almost every element clicking, as I can't get enough of it. I've seen this three times in a theater, I don't remember seeing a film that much in a theater as two times is normally my limit. A big thank you to Ari Aster for creating yet another fantastic horror film, I'm kind of sad he's taking a break from horror, however I'm looking forward to anything he makes so we'll have to see what is in store in the future for him. Thank you to all my readers for checking this article out and for all the support, I highly appreciate it and hope to do this again sometime soon, God Bless. -Mitch Smietana