Midsommar: Ending Explained by Director Ari Aster - IGN (2022)

This story contains full SPOILERS for Midsommar!

Ari Aster's movie Midsommar, the follow-up to his 2018 critical hit Hereditary, is partly an open homage to folk horror films (à la The Wicker Man), partly a death-colored fable, and partly a straight-up revenge fantasy. Midsommar takes place in a very, very remote Swedish village (so far north that the sun doesn't set) wherein a group of American tourists get caught up in a once-every-90-years solstice festival that comes complete with odd games, exotic meals, ineffable traditions, and a haze of dread that only grows as the film progresses.

Why Hereditary Was One of the Best Horror Movies of 2018:

(Video) Midsommar - Movie Review

I recently chatted with Midsommar writer-director Aster who helped explain Midsommar's ending, its dark themes, and the many strange rituals depicted in it. Here's what he had to say.

Bad Relationships

At the start of Midsommar we see that our protagonist Dani (Florence Pugh) has just suffered the worst possible tragedy; her suicidal sister, who has been raising red flags for years, has abruptly killed both herself and their parents in a harrowing suicide sequence that is most certainly not for the faint of heart. When Dani reaches out to her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) for emotional support, she finds only the cold shoulder; their three-year relationship, we soon learn, hasn't been rosy or even basically functional for quite some time. Dani is, in Aster's words, “clinging to the closest thing she has to family, which is a boyfriend who is not entirely present and who doesn't want to be there.”

When watching Christian candidly discuss his half-hearted devotion to Dani, one may begin to get the sense that Aster was not writing something that was entirely fictional. Indeed, when one looks at both Midsommar and his prior film Hereditary, one finds two films about how extreme grief can't be remotely diminished by the relationship you have with the people closest to you. When asked if he was working through something troubling in his own life, Aster candidly replied, “I was when I wrote those movies.”

Aster also confesses that “the writing of both those scripts was very, I'd say, therapeutic. What I like about genre filmmaking, too, is that it forces you to find the catharsis in whatever story you're telling. And if you're going through a breakup, it can be very difficult, sometimes, to find closure, depending on how the relationship was when it ended. Same thing with family tragedy or things happening that are traumatic. It's very hard to find closure.” Did he find that closure personally? He does say that he's “lucky that I have a medium that I can work my stuff out through. It's all very selfish.”

Revenge Fantasy

Despite the deep delve into a bad relationship, Dani will eventually, by the film's end, enact her darkest wish. Christian will be offered as a possible choice for the Horga's final sacrifice, and Dani will, almost gleefully, select him to be killed. “In the end,” Aster describes, “she is finally able to liberate herself from her 'dead weight' and she finds a new family.” It's all just a matter of perspective, Aster elucidates. “It's a riff on The Wicker Man. [But] for most of the people visiting this village, this community, this is a folk horror movie. But for Dani, for our main character, it's a fairy tale.”

Expanding on the fairy tale idea, Aster continues, “I wanted it to function in one way the first time you watch the film, where you think you're just watching a folk horror movie. And that's how it plays. And then it's a film that, if you ever return to it, will play very differently. And even Horga – this community – I wanted it to feel like a real lived-in place with rich traditions and a deep history. But I wanted them also to exist solely to fulfill Dani's needs. And I think there's a way to watch the film and see Horga strictly as a manifestation of Dani's will. It's hard for me to watch the film at all without seeing them that way.”

How Real Were Those Weird Swedish Rituals?

Aster did a good deal of research into obscure (to Americans, anyway) Swedish Midsommar rituals in preparation for his film. Midsommar, the actual holiday, is a major event in Sweden celebrated somewhere between June 20th and June 26th, and the summer solstice carries with it a wide variety of traditions, meals, and other practices all over the country. Aster, in making a horror film, did have to stretch here and there (there are no human sacrifices in Sweden as far as anyone knows), but more of the things on screen are realer than you might think.

So what was real? “The girls walking backward through the field and them picking flowers, and then putting those flowers under their bed in order to dream about the man they are to marry. And then the act of putting menstrual blood in the coffee and pubic hair into – in this case – into the meat pie. In Swedish lore it's a pancake. That's all pulled from research. It's all part of Swedish folklore specifically tied to Midsommar. When nature's magical properties are as potent as ever.”

What else? The giant death hammers too? The ones that the Swedish locals use to “finish off” the failed ritual suicides? As it turns out, yes. “Even the giant hammers they carry, which is called a cudgel, that is rumored to be an item the whole family would use against the eldest member of the family when it was time for them to die. And the whole family would collaborate in bludgeoning the grandparent to death when they were ready to go.” Yes, really. “There's a lot of stuff here,” Aster adds.

Midsommar Images

(Video) Midsommar Angry Movie Review

Confronting All the Death

Those hammers, by the way, come into play midpoint through Midsommar, when the American protagonists get a taste of what really happens at this holiday. Two elder members of the cult are seen throwing themselves off of a cliff. If the fall doesn't kill them – which, as we see for one of them, it painfully doesn't – the other celebrants stave in their heads. This was more than just a moment of shock, but an opportunity to open Dani up to some painful realizations:

“Again,” Aster says, “that's something that's designed to be possibly read in two ways. It could be seen as this horrifying spectacle that's just awful and grotesque. Or it could also be seen as an opportunity for Dani to sort of confront what she's been avoiding. Which is the death of her family and this unimaginable tragedy that she spends the whole movie kind of evading and running away from and trying to ignore, and in that scene, she's sort of forced into confrontation with this thing, which she hasn't been able to look directly at.”

Exposure to that death, then, is a form of therapy? According to Aster, yes. “In fact, she's even been apologizing the whole movie for feeling anything at all. Not only that, but she's also given the opportunity to hear a different perspective on these suicides when this woman runs into sort of desperately explain their philosophy and the way that they embrace death, and it's like this new perspective is sort of forced upon her. ... So you could see it as this awful spectacle, or you could see it as the first brick being laid down in the foundation of Dani being indoctrinated.”

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And the Guy with No Pants and the Flesh Mask?

I asked Aster about a bizarre scene in Midsommar wherein a celebrant is seen wearing a mask of flesh made from the face of one of the characters and seems to be without pants. It turns out there were hints that I had missed. “The attentive viewer,” he says, “might notice earlier on in the film that there are children playing a game called 'Skin the Fool.'”

And, yes, one of the characters makes and especially foolish mistake. “Will Poulter, who plays Mark, ends up urinating on the village's ancestral tree, where all of the ashes of their dead are scattered, and a character named Ulf, who is very upset over this incident, eventually, off-screen, kills Mark while Mark is likely copulating with one of the women. And the suggestion is that Ulf skinned Mark and entered the temple wearing Mark's skin.”

Clearer, but why the bare legs? “There was a practice – I guess there is a phenomenon practice by the vikings – where they would even skin an enemy's legs and wear them as pants. And so, what you're seeing is Ulf wearing Mark's face, so Will Poulter's face, and wearing his legs as pants.”

It all makes perfect sense, in its own dark way. And even if you can't make perfect sense of the rituals and secrets of Midsommar the first time, it's still a first-rate horror film, saturated in dread and rich with psychological complexity.

For more, check out our Midsommar review.

FAQs

Who was wearing marks face in Midsommar? ›

When Josh sneaks away to photograph pictures of the 'Rubi Radr' holy book, he thinks that he sees Mark standing in the doorway of the temple: it is in fact Ulf (the man who screamed at Mark for urinating on the ancestral tree) wearing Mark's skin. (This is confirmed by the screenplay).

How does Midsommer End? ›

In the end, Dani is a victim of the cult. While she might feel some form of liberation, she is still trapped in a cult that will exploit her emotional trauma for their advantage.

What did Dani see in the shed in Midsommar? ›

The last image of Christian being burned alive and Dani smiling is visually showing one the at-times violent removal one must do with someone in order to find peace with herself. For Dani it's burning her bear-stuffed boyfriend alive, in the real world it might be as simple as deleting him off your contacts list.

Is Midsommar a dream? ›

This paper will analyze the evolution of Shake- speare and argue that Ari Aster's 2019 Horror and Drama film Midsommar is an adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The use of magic, hallucination, and the distortion of love demon- strates transferable themes and motifs of Shake- speare into the horror genre.

Why did the girl smile at the end of Midsommar? ›

Ari Aster: “It's designed to play as a happy ending.” But is it? After all, what she's smiling at is death—the sight of her own boyfriend (and eight others) being engulfed in flames. The grisly finale feels like a moment of triumph for this character who's spent the whole film enduring emotional torment.

What did Dani see in the barn? ›

And while yes, by the Midsommar ending Dani's boyfriend Christian is being burned alive in a ritualistic barn, literally inside the carcass of a bear, alongside the mutilated corpses of their friends, Dani has found a sense of community.

Was Dani meant to be May Queen? ›

Ari Aster's 2019 folk horror film Midsommar features a plethora of foreshadowing that reveals that Dani was destined to become the May Queen. Ari Aster's 2019 folk horror film Midsommar ends with the crowning of Dani as the May Queen, but throughout its entirety it foreshadowed that she it was her destiny all along.

What does Dani see in the keyhole? ›

Dani returns to the village just as Christian is carrying out his mandate under extreme duress. She catches sight of the ritual through the temple's keyhole: Middle-aged naked women are writhing and singing around her boyfriend mid-coitus.

What is the message behind Midsommar? ›

Midsommar is essentially a two and a half hour study of one woman's emotional journey towards emancipation from a toxic relationship. Like director Ari Aster's first film, Hereditary, it's a dark drama disguised as a terror flick. Unlike Hereditary, it has a happy ending.

Is Pelle sacrificed in Midsommar? ›

Pelle later attends the human sacrifice and sees Dani sacrifice Christian. He is later seen partaking in the grief-sharing ritual with the rest of the cult.

Is Midsommar a true story? ›

Ari Aster's Midsommar is partially based on a real-life Swedish festival, but the customs don't involve the same violence and pagan cult activities on show in the horror movie.

Why is Midsommar so disturbing? ›

What Parents Need to Know. Parents need to know that Midsommar is an extremely violent horror movie from the maker of Hereditary. It involves a sinister, ages-old ceremony that includes disturbing rituals. Characters are beaten and smashed, and bodies are cut up and burned (in some cases, alive).

Why did Dani smile at the end of Midsommar Reddit? ›

As a result, when Dani smiles in the last shot, the audience is supposed to feel happy for her that she is now an important member of this group, is free of her boyfriend, and has a new family.

What does Midsommar mean in English? ›

It's a word found in Swedish, Germany, and other European languages that translates to midsummer, but actually refers to what is technically known as the first day of summer or the summer solstice.

What is the oracle in Midsommar? ›

The oracle, Ruben, who has physical and cognitive limitations, is briefly shown throughout the film, and is explained that he's the product of incest, as he's “unclouded” and thus more open to receiving the word of the gods.

What mental illness does Dani have in Midsommar? ›

The present study features traumatic incidents accumulated in the main character of Ari Aster's film Midsommar, Dani Ardor, who is literally a schizophrenic.

How old is Dani Midsommar? ›

All of these factors combined mean that Dani Ardor is most likely between the ages of 24 to 26. In Midsommar, Dani is in the midst of formulating her graduate thesis, celebrating her birthday during the mid-summer of her life, and travels to the Harga festival in Sweden.

What happens to mark in Midsommar? ›

The Hårgas kill Mark after he accidentally urinates on their sacred ancestral tree, an act that is interpreted as a massive transgression and insult from the cult's perspective.

Why are they screaming at the end of Midsommar? ›

Dani has just seen her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) having sex with another woman from the commune, and it causes all her pent-up rage and grief to come pouring out of her. The other women reflect her emotions back at her by screaming and crying as well.

What is the yellow drink in Midsommar? ›

What is the Hårga drug? Though it's never explicitly revealed, early on in the film when Dani, Christian, Mark, Josh, and Pelle arrive in the village they're all offered magic mushrooms to help them acclimatize to the festivities.

Is halsingland real? ›

Hälsingland (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈhɛ̌lːsɪŋland] ( listen)), sometimes referred to as Helsingia in English, is a historical province or landskap in central Sweden. It borders Gästrikland, Dalarna, Härjedalen, Medelpad and the Gulf of Bothnia. It is part of the land of Norrland.

How is May Queen chosen? ›

A May queen is selected from a group of 13 upward girls by the young dancers. She returns the next year to crown the new May Queen and stays in the procession. The largest event in this tradition in modern Britain is the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

What did they do to Simon in Midsommar? ›

Simon and Connie decide to leave, however several cultists find Simon and torture him. They then take out his lungs and use them to turn Simon into a blood eagle. They stuff flowers into Simon's eyes as well and leave him in the chicken shack. Christian discovers his body until he is paralyzed by the cultists.

Why is there a bear in Midsommar? ›

In an interview following Midsommar's release, Aster remarked that he chose to use the bear the way he did because the animal is an important figure in Norse and Scandinavian folklore, making its appearance appropriate for a ritual performed by the Swedish Harga cult.

Is Midsommar every 90 years? ›

The festival occurs only once every 90 years, and Josh, who is writing his thesis on European midsummer festivities, regards it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Christian had not discussed the trip with Dani, as he intended to break up with her prior to the tragedy with her family.

Who is Ruben in Midsommar? ›

Midsommar (2019) - Levente Puczkó-Smith as Ruben - IMDb.

What does May Queen mean in Midsommar? ›

Some of those same themes reemerged in 2019's follow-up Midsommar, which centered on Dani, a woman who travels to Sweden and participates in the Harga society's odd annual rituals while still grieving the deaths of her sister and parents, ultimately earning the title of May Queen.

Who were sacrifices in Midsommar? ›

Four of their own will be sacrificed alongside four outsiders - Mark, Simon, Connie and Josh - and one selected by the May Queen, Dani. The twist is Dani has to choose between a randomly selected Harga (they use a rune style bingo machine) or Christian.

Is Dani the villain in Midsommar? ›

Type of Villain

Dani Ardor is the main protagonist of the 2019 folk horror film Midsommar directed by Ari Aster. A college undergraduate, Dani is the girlfriend of Christian Hughes, and their relationship is distant and toxic before her sister commits a murder-suicide.

What was Pelle drawing in Midsommar? ›

Pelle Is The Oracle

When Josh receives an explanation of the Oracle, a product of inbreeding, the elder says they have "unclouded intuition." One of the comments on the thread, posted by user u/hobbessss, added that Pelle draws pictures of the feasting table that Dani and co.

Is Midsommar a psychological horror? ›

Ari Aster's folk-horror/psychological-thriller, Midsommar, is the kind of film that haunts your dreams (and, lets be honest, waking hours), for days to come. The movie tells the story of a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a fabled mid-summer festival.

How do Swedes feel about Midsommar? ›

Maypoles and dancing

Midsummer is normally an occasion of large gatherings − and to be honest, many Swedes take advantage of it to fulfil their social obligations so that they can enjoy the rest of their holiday in peace. In many cases, whole families gather to celebrate this traditional high-point of the summer.

Is Hårga real? ›

Hårga is indeed real, but the Hårga people, insofar as Aster conceived of them for his movie, are not. There is no direct analog to this quasi-cult with discomforting rituals around death and bearskins.

Is Midsummer pagan? ›

Traditionally, Midsummer was a pagan celebration of fertility and of light defeating darkness. That is still the backbone of Scandinavian Midsummer, and is evident in the method of celebration, including bonfires, feasts, and dancing.

Will Midsommar give me nightmares? ›

'Midsommar' Is The Next 'Hereditary' & It Will Give You Nightmares | Hit Network.

Are Hereditary and Midsommar connected? ›

The short answer is: It's complicated. Unfortunately for fans hoping for a Hereditary sequel, the two films are not directly connected. But Aster did recently tell Fandango that Midsommar and Hereditary do share some DNA.

How old do you need to be to watch Midsommar? ›

Is it 15 or 18? The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gives Midsommar an 18 rating. An 18 rating means: "No one younger than 18 may see an 18 film in a cinema." The BBFC cites strong gory images as the reasoning behind its decision.

What's the point of Hereditary? ›

When it comes to "Hereditary," it's Paimon who is summoned at the very end of the film, and it's revealed that Peter is his intended vessel -– a human host for Paimon to embody on Earth. That's right: After (metaphorically) going through hell and back, Peter is revealed to be the focus of the entire twisted story.

Where was Midsommar filmed? ›

Midsommar was filmed in Budapest, Hungary, and New York, the United States. Dani's apartment was located in Brooklyn. Village scenes were shot outside of the city of Budapest.

Why is midsummer not in the middle of summer? ›

This year, the Summer Solstice was on 21st June. The longest day of the year with some 16 hours of sunlight. But Midsummer's Day is today, 24th June. Based on the planet's axis, this means it changes every year.

Who plays the old woman in Midsommar? ›

Florence Pugh is an English actress. She is known for Midsommar (2019), Little Women (2019), her ...

Did Midsommar get taken off Netflix? ›

Unfortunately, at the moment, Midsommar is not currently streaming on Netflix.

Who is wearing marks face in Midsommar? ›

When Josh sneaks away to photograph pictures of the 'Rubi Radr' holy book, he thinks that he sees Mark standing in the doorway of the temple: it is in fact Ulf (the man who screamed at Mark for urinating on the ancestral tree) wearing Mark's skin. (This is confirmed by the screenplay).

What did Maja put under Christians bed? ›

Maja hides a love rune under Christian's bed and bakes her pubic hair into a pie that he eats. Later, Christian has a meeting with Hårga elder Siv (Gunnel Fred), where she tells him that he has been granted permission to mate with Maja.

Who is the redhead girl in Midsommar? ›

The character of Maja is played by Isabelle Grill. She is the ginger-haired girl that has become infatuated with Christian, who is excellently portrayed by Jack Reynor (Sing Street).

Why did Ulf wear marks skin? ›

While Ulf's motivation for flaying Mark's skin is revenge, and ultimately, ritual sacrifice, it is interesting to note that the Fehu ᚠ rune can be seen on a mural with Mark standing next to it, which also corresponds to wealth and new beginnings.

What did they do to mark on Midsommar? ›

' Mark literally becomes the skinned fool after he pees on the sacred tree branch and gets lured away to his fate.” 40. The Midsommar score, which greatly adds to the film, was by Bobby Krlic. If that name sounds familiar, it's because Bobby Krlic is The Haxan Cloak — the indie experimental artist.

What was the breathing thing in Midsommar? ›

The Hårga use breath to reinforce their insular group, to synchronize individuals, and to connect to outsiders like Dani. (Kenney also developed the sound of the "punctuation" breaths, Aster says.) Late in the film, Dani's emotional dam finally bursts and she begins howling in pain.

Who is Ruben in Midsommar? ›

Midsommar (2019) - Levente Puczkó-Smith as Ruben - IMDb.

Is Pelle sacrificed in Midsommar? ›

Pelle later attends the human sacrifice and sees Dani sacrifice Christian. He is later seen partaking in the grief-sharing ritual with the rest of the cult.

Who was in the barn at the end of Midsommar? ›

The Nine Human Sacrifices At The End Of Midsommar Explained

By the end of the movie, four of the new blood sacrifices have already been made: British visitors Connie and Simon, and Christian's friends Josh and Mark.

Is Midsommar based on a true story? ›

Here's how true Ari Aster's Midsummer activities are to real-life Swedish traditions. Ari Aster's Midsommar is partially based on a real-life Swedish festival, but the customs don't involve the same violence and pagan cult activities on show in the horror movie.

What does Dani see in the keyhole? ›

Dani returns to the village just as Christian is carrying out his mandate under extreme duress. She catches sight of the ritual through the temple's keyhole: Middle-aged naked women are writhing and singing around her boyfriend mid-coitus.

Is the bear real in Midsommar? ›

The bear was used to the cage. The bear was not forced to leave but was encouraged to leave using honey and apples. The sectional doors were then opened and the bear walked through into the set cage with the encouragement of apples. After filming, the bear was released for the day.

Why is Midsommar so disturbing? ›

What Parents Need to Know. Parents need to know that Midsommar is an extremely violent horror movie from the maker of Hereditary. It involves a sinister, ages-old ceremony that includes disturbing rituals. Characters are beaten and smashed, and bodies are cut up and burned (in some cases, alive).

Why is Christians drink darker Midsommar? ›

However, on second viewing, the dark red color of the drink has different meanings. A lot of the rituals in Midsommar revolve around fertility and the menstrual cycle. When Christian found a pubic hair in his food, it was a more obvious warning than what now must clearly be seen as the blood mixed into his drink.

What is the yellow drink in Midsommar? ›

What is the Hårga drug? Though it's never explicitly revealed, early on in the film when Dani, Christian, Mark, Josh, and Pelle arrive in the village they're all offered magic mushrooms to help them acclimatize to the festivities.

Is Simon alive in Midsommar? ›

In Midsommar, Simon is very much alive and breathing when Christian finds him.

What mental illness does Dani have in Midsommar? ›

The present study features traumatic incidents accumulated in the main character of Ari Aster's film Midsommar, Dani Ardor, who is literally a schizophrenic.

What was on the table in Midsommar? ›

“It's a really good way to preserve food,” Hegedus says. A24/Midsommar. The meal showcases meat (there's a farm on the premises), seafood (an important part of Nordic cuisine), vegetables (potatoes were a must), house-made butter, and foraged items like berries, leaves, and flowers.

What is the meaning of Midsommar? ›

You probably know that "midsommar" means exactly what it sounds like: midsummer. But let's look at some of the origins. It's a word found in Swedish, Germany, and other European languages that translates to midsummer, but actually refers to what is technically known as the first day of summer or the summer solstice.

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