Qt3 Movie Podcast: Midsommar

Title Qt3 Movie Podcast: Midsommar
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Movie podcasts
When November 25, 2019

At last, a movie that answers the question, "How can we make Sweden seem scary?"

Next: the screams 3x3

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I’m bummed I forgot to write in for this one - Midsommar is definitely going to be on my top ten. The feeling of dread and pity when all the women started wailing around Dani was something else. She’s finally getting the emotional support she needed all this time to deal with her miserable, weaselly, gaslighting boyfriend…and she’s being gaslit into a Swedish death cult. (I’m no fancy theology student like Tom, but they tick a fair bit of the boxes in the cult checklist.)

As for the subtle CGI, there’s a bunch of these in it as well:

Oops! I also forgot to write in about the best movie of 2019. I’m glad Aster and Eggers have spread their wings after making pretty straightforward (though very good) horror movies. This movie didn’t quite reach mother! level impact, but it surpasses Herditary, a movie I loved.

I get the sense that Ari Aster was trying to recreate the success of American Werewolf in London with his choices for songs to play over the ending credits of his movies.

You might know Pugh from le Carré adaptation The Little Drummer Girl. If you watch TV, anyway.

Gah! No way, Soren! That Tweet freaks me out! I think I just failed a sanity check.

The difference is that John Landis peppered American Werewolf with comedic touches, for instance with Griffin Dunne’s appearances. So when the movie shifts from the downbeat ending to the boppy “bom bom-bom-bom-bom” of Blue Moon, it’s not entirely out of sorts with what’s come before. He’s also featured at least Van Morrison’s Moondance during the movie, and there may be a couple others I’m not remembering. In fact, isn’t some poppy song played over the horrific – for the time – transformation scene? And, of course, there’s the dissonance of the Muppet Show with Nazi family-killing monsters. wandvoice: Classic Landis!

Joni Mitchell after Hereditary and Frankie Valli after Midsommar are just so jarring for a couple of reasons. Neither movie is given to levity or soundtrack songs. But mostly, those songs are so specific to their times, and so out of sorts with each movie’s blissed-out weirdly exultant finale. Those finales are accompanied by their own dissonant high-strung music. So suddenly shifting to dated pap just feels wrong to me. It’s the emotional equivalent of abruptly turning on the lights rather than letting me sit in the dark and mull over – and recover – from what I’ve just seen. Joni Mitchell? Frankie Valli? Really, Aster? Lern 2 direct, n00b!


You didn’t feel there were comedic moments in Midsommar? I certainly did. Point taken about the move from that ending, though.

Not really, no. Mark’s comments as The Fool were funny, but they were funny mostly because they were at odds with the tone of everything else going on. Contrast this to American Werewolf in London where the movie freely shifts into comedy. Assuming that’s what you’re referencing, I don’t see them as comparable.

Why do you ask? Do you think the point of those songs at the end of Hereditary and Midsommar were supposed to be comedy? If that was Aster’s intent, I hate them even more!


Oh yeah, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Aster is successful in his imitation and, in fact, is deeply misguided in it. It breaks my heart to have a deeply beautiful song like “Both Sides Now” used as a figurative raspberry in Hereditary just because its lyrics are superficially relevant, compared to its robust appearance in the sixth season of Mad Men, where it’s explicitly applied to Don Draper acknowledging the bad parts of his life along with the good.

  1. Midsommar has some very funny bits! Not only from Mark!

  2. “Both Sides Now” was, thematically, the PERFECT end credits song for Hereditary. It’s about different perspectives, aging, changing relationships. The tone may not have exactly reflected how you were feeling at that moment, but you don’t need music in a film to tell you how to feel, do you? So why does the end credits music need to tell you how to feel? And ALSO, different perspectives viewing one series of events in two different ways is exactly what the song is about! Paimon and his cult got a happy ending! (Which is also reflected in the excellent, jubilant, weird synth music in the final scene – which, sure, is otherworldly and weird – but it’s also not tragic-sounding!)

(Also, I’m pretty sure Joni Mitchell is pretty broadly accepted as “not pap in the least.” Frankie Valli may not be as critically respected, but his Metacritic score is still solidly in the 80s!)

I wish the ending of Midsommar were its midpoint. Dani’s initiation is just the beginning of the potential portrayal of life and relations here.

I also wish they’d cut Christian desperately running around after the impregnating scene, finding bodies. Just have one of the elderly women gently blow the dust into his face. The more calmer and matter-of-fact this movie is about the horror here, the better (except the weird stuff in the trees; wow. More of that, please.)

No, I just was curious. I laughed at a number of moments during Midsommar, and not just at Mark. And while I would definitely think of Midsommar as a bleaker and more harrowing movie than American Werewolf in London (though I haven’t seen that in probably two decades), I would still think of it as “peppered with comedic touches”. So it surprised me that you didn’t seem to. I really don’t even remember the credits music, so I’m not prepared to defend those choices.

I have to agree with Tom here: Not just in comparison to American Werewolf in London, but in general, I don’t remember any comedic touches in Midsommar. Or if there were any, I was too petrified to notice.

There was plenty of laughter in the cinema where I watched it, at least in the first half.

Haha, I… don’t think so. I realized toward the end that no women they met was introduced as being the midsummer queen (whatever their term for it was) from a previous year, though they had plenty of pictures of them. I don’t think her life turns out well there.

The whole ritual they were doing was supposedly a once every 90 years affair, so given their approach to elder care they wouldn’t still have anybody who was there from the last time.

On a different movie podcast (Fighting in the War Room maybe?) someone made a joke—in the vein of “Die Hard is a Christmas movie”— “Midsommar is a comedy.” I tend to agree that it’s intentionally funny in parts. I’d have to rewatch it to remember what they were. There was definitely (appropriate) laughter in my first audience.

Yeah, there was the once-every-90-years thing, but unless I misunderstood something, I’m pretty sure they had a wall of photos of previous ‘winners’. And that would preclude the 90 year time frame. Something happened to those people?

There are images in this movie that are seared into my brain. That is not one of them. So…maybe? I dunno.

I think it’s certainly reasonable to expect that, from what we know of their culture, there’s other rituals involving people dying (whatshisname’s parents are said to have died in a fire, which seems likely to have been a ritual sacrifice like the lodge in the movie). Maybe it’s just the scale of this particular celebration that’s every 90 years? The movie isn’t really interested in telling us, I don’t think.

That said, I think the others were picked precisely because they would violate cultural taboos and sort of volunteer themselves to die, while she was seen as a good recruit. I could be wrong, though.

May Queens aren’t a sacrificial tradition and I think a close viewing also concludes her home/family is now the cult, not that they’re going to kill her, because they just completed their ultimate ritual for this cycle. They would also want her to have a child with one of their men. Maybe they would still kill her if she threatened to leave, but would she do that now? I don’t think so. She’s there for the next 50 years or so.

@tomchick roughly where in Watchmen is that waffle/fence cut? Google failed me.