9 'Midsommar' Theories That Make The Movie Way More Terrifying (2022)

Entertainment

by Angelica Florio

In Midsommar, everything you might imagine as a worst-case scenario during a vacation to a remote village actually happens. The film released July 3 marks director/writer Ari Aster's follow up to 2018's strikingly disturbing Hereditary, and it's sent horror fans into a tizzy over its possible interpretations. These 9 Midsommar theories are just a handful of the disturbing ideas from audiences. And they'll make this greatly unsettling film — made by a writer/director known for paying exhaustive attention to details — even more terrifying. Major spoilers ahead for Midsommar.

Midsommar starts off with the tragic deaths of the protagonist, Dani's (Florence Pugh), mother, father, and sister. Dani's sister poisoned herself and her parents with carbon monoxide, leaving the grad student to grieve an unimaginable loss. Dani's boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), isn't much of a help, but he invites Dani on a group trip to a village in Sweden where a cult called the Hårga lives off the land. The group is led by Christian's friend from school, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), who comes from Hårga himself. They're joined by Mark (Will Poulter) and Josh (William Jackson Harper), who definitely don't expect find themselves in the middle of a satanic rituals that slowly pick away at the group one by one.

Long story short, Midsommar ends with Christian being sewn inside a disemboweled bear, a skinned Mark, and more gory human remains that all go up in flame in a pyre at the end of the film, leaving only Dani as the surviving outsider. And, as these theories suggest, all of that gore and despair could mean more than what meets the eye.

1

'Midsommar' Is The Opposite Of 'Hereditary'

There are a few different theories about how Midsommar might connect to Hereditary, but Aster has repeatedly refuted theories that the demonic God from the latter, Paiman, is involved in Midsommar. However, the director has acknowledged that both films have similar themes, such as family and codependency, which he explained in a featurette shared on social media.

That said, despite its similarities, a theory published by CheatSheet posits that Aster's two films could be opposites. "While the 'scary' scenes of Hereditary primarily take place during the night, this new movie flips the narrative, including most of the story in broad daylight," CheatSheet stated.

The Hollywood Reporter also suggested that the movies have opposite depictions of Paganism. "Where Hereditary... explored paganism as something sinister, Midsommar approaches it as a benevolent power, at least when seen through Pelle’s explanations," THR wrote.

(Video) MIDSOMMAR: Every Creepy Little Detail Hidden In The Movie

2

Pelle Is The Oracle

Various theories on Reddit pertain to Pelle, but one of the most intriguing ones suggests that Pelle is the Hårgas' Oracle, and he plotted out the events that unfold in Midsommar himself. Reddit user u/CrypWalkingToTheMoon supported this theory, pointing out that at the end of the film, "Pelle is given a crown of flowers and the elder says 'you will now be recognized for your unclouded intuition.'" This phrase is actually used earlier in the film. When Josh receives an explanation of the Oracle, a product of inbreeding, the elder says they have "unclouded intuition."

(Video) Things You Only Notice The Second Time You Watch Midsommar

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. eat at in Hårga. The Oracle foresees events through images, so it's pretty strong evidence that Pelle was prophesying before they all went to Sweden.

3

All The Breathing In The Film Connects To The Tragedy At The Beginning

One dark and disturbing theory posited by Reddit user u/shainako suggests that the way that Dani's family dies (carbon monoxide poisoning), juxtaposes well against the heavy breathing portrayed in Midsommar. You could probably interpret the scene in which Dani and the women partake in communal deep-breathing — which verges on hyperventilation — as somehow mirroring the way her mom, dad, and sister died.

4

It's A (Twisted) Fairytale

The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that the story of Midsommar maps onto fairytale tropes almost perfectly. "Dani is the poor (emotionally so) maiden who travels to a faraway land and discovers her royal birthright. Christian is the inept prince... Mark is the jester, whose foolishness is his demise. Josh is the wizard whose quest to acquire more knowledge comes at a deadly cost. And Pelle is the noble knight, the servant of the Harga," Richard Newby wrote for THR.

In an interview with IndieWire, Aster confirmed that he intended for Midsommar to have this outline. "We never talked about this as a horror film, it was always a macabre fairy tale," the director said.

5

Dani Was Destined To Become The May Queen

Subtle clues that Dani would become the May Queen pervaded the entirety of Midsommar, starting at its beginning when Dani's room decoration includes a poster of a woman before a crowd of people worshiping her. Another piece of artwork shows a giant bear kissing a small girl, likely to foreshadow Dani and Christian's relationship.

As Reddit user u/foremanxc wrote, Dani might have always been meant to end up where she does, and the people of Hårga know it. That Dani looks like the many blonde-haired green-eyed cult members likely is no accident, and user also pointed out that a baby was born on Dani's birthday, representing the community's cycle that they celebrate with their Midsommar celebration.

(Video) The Horror of MIDSOMMAR Explained

6

The Murder-Suicide Visually Represents Dani's Isolation

Fans of Aster's know that the writer-director doesn't make choices thoughtlessly, and so the fact that Dani's family dies in such a shocking, eerie way has to mean something. Redditor u/clemenbroog suggested that the tube Dani's sister used to poison her parents visually represents the sense that Dani was cut out from her family tree. She no longer has familial ties after their deaths, so she was ready to accept the Hårga ways more readily.

7

Pelle Killed Dani's Family

This theory connects to the previous one that Pelle is the Oracle, and numerous Midsommar audience members on Reddit and Twitter left the theater feeling certain that the deaths at the beginning of the film aren't suicidal at all. Perhaps Pelle killed Dani's family to make her vulnerable to the cult's indoctrination so she can fulfill her destiny to become the May Queen.

(Video) INSANE Hidden Details In HEREDITARY That Make It One Of The Creepiest Horrors EVER

8

Christian Represents Christianity

THR's Richard Newby wrote that the way that Paganism is portrayed in Midsommar portrays it as being based on sacrifice for others and the good of humanity. Christian acts only out of guilt when supporting Dani. Moreover, he fails to consider Josh's feelings when hijacking his PhD subject, so as Newby wrote, "Christian can be looked at as a metaphor for Christianity as seen by the Hårga." Of course, that isn't an objective basis, as the Hårga likely have a deeply untrusting relationship towards the Christians, which has a historical basis from when the founding of Christianity clashed with preexisting Paganism.

9

Each Rune You See Connects To The Story

(Video) MIDSOMMAR (2019) Story + Ending Explained

Perhaps the most obvious yet mysterious clues from Midsommar lie in the meaning of the runes that adorn almost every wall and outfit in Hårga. One Redditor, u/branches-bones, identified the translations of the most pervasive runic symbols to mean journey and joy, mystery, secrecy, initiation, and death/end. Given the Hårgas' dedication to their religion, it makes sense that the runes, often known to have magical powers, might influence their traditions. Or, in this case, mirror the journey of Midsommar's main characters.

The more you think about each of these Midsommar theories, the scarier the movie becomes — and the more you'll want to see it over again to pick up on new clues.

FAQs

What was the message of 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.

Who were the 9 sacrificed in Midsommar? ›

The nine human sacrifices

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.

Why are they all screaming at the end of Midsommar? ›

Dani chooses Christian, and he is placed in a gutted bear, then burned with the other sacrifices in the temple. The commune and Dani watch as the temple burns. The Härga people screaming is supposed to show empathy for those burning alive inside the temple, and Dani watches, first horrified, and then she laughs.

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.

Why does Dani smile in the end? ›

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.

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).

Is Pelle in love with Dani? ›

For all his flaws, he seems to genuinely love Dani and want the best for her. He is there for her when she goes through her severe anxiety attacks. Pelle is nothing but affectionate to Dani, he always sketches her in his sketchbook and even draws her as the May Queen. He remembers her birthday and gives her a present.

Who was wearing Marks skin 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).

Is Midsommar an actual thing? ›

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 did 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 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.

Does Dani go insane in Midsommar? ›

That betrayal drove her to that state of disorientation on display as Christian meets his fiery end. Dani likely never recovered emotionally or mentally from the events of Midsommar, so she probably happily continued on as a member of the Hårga cult.

Who did Dani choose sacrifice? ›

The juxtaposition of this is shown in the collective yelling scene once Dani finds him with another woman. Her and the commune have a shared empathy for one another. So when Dani picks Christian to die over her Hargan brother, she isn't necessarily being vengeful, but rather choosing empathy over apathy.

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.

What age is Maja in Midsommar? ›

Dawson Casting: It's said that Maja has just turned the legal age (the slang word "byxmyndig" is used, meaning "old enough to consent to sex"), which would make her fifteen. Her actress Isabelle Grill was twenty.

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.

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.

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.

Which is scarier Hereditary or Midsommar? ›

The Scares Victor: Hereditary

I love Midsommar, but if somebody were to ask me the scariest movies I've ever seen, then Hereditary would be high on that list, and Midsommar wouldn't even rank.

Will Midsommar give me nightmares? ›

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

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 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.

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 is the deformed person in Midsommar? ›

Aster himself appears to be fully aware of Midsommar's use of disability. In a recent interview with Forbes, he says Ruben is “a very important character. He's important more as a symbol, as an idea, than he is even as a character”.

Was Simon still alive in Midsommar? ›

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

What did they do to Marks face in Midsommar? ›

That night when Josh sneaks into the temple to take a photograph of the commune's sacred runic text, which an elder had previously forbidden him from doing, he sees the same cultist wearing Mark's clothes and skinned face and is hit over the head from behind, after which his body is dragged away.

What religion is Midsommar based on? ›

The Midsommar Celebration Is Christian-Based, Not Pagan

Swedish author Po Tidholm, who studies the pagan practices and other traditions of his country, told Esquire that many of the film's rituals are actually based in Christianity: The Swedish "midsommarstång" or "maypole" is said to be of German, Christian heritage.

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 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.

Who was in the wheelbarrow Midsommar? ›

Mark's Death Represents Fire

Notably, Mark does this despite the fact that Midsommar's Hårga is a cult. When the final sacrificial scene towards the end is underway, his body is stuffed with hay and placed in a wheelbarrow.

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.

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 was in the fire 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.

What is Danis sisters full name in Midsommar? ›

Terri is the sister of Dani and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ardor.

Was Simon alive in the chicken coop? ›

When Christian flees the women after the ritual, he runs to the chicken coop and finds Simon, flayed open, but still alive. His eyes have been gouged out and replaced by flowers.

What medication does Dani take in Midsommar? ›

A glimpse at a pill bottle of Ativan and an agitated phone call with a friend before her family's death provide us with enough context to know that Dani deals with anxiety and panic attacks.

What do the runes on Dani's dress mean? ›

On her tunic, there's a Raidho on the left and a merkstaved Dagaz on the right. The Dagaz means fulfillment and achievement, but it literally means dawn - the rise of daylight, or rebirth. The Raidho inverted means discord, delusion or death. The Dagaz normally means purity, but it's been altered.

Who is the red hair girl in Midsommar? ›

Portrayed by. Maja is a fictional character appearing in the 2019 horror film Midsommar directed by Ari Aster. She is portrayed by Isabelle Grill.

What did Dani see through 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 does Christians death represent in Midsommar? ›

One theory about the deaths in Midsommar, in particular, suggests that each side character's death represents the four elements: earth, fire, water, and air. Through these four Midsommar deaths, four seasons are invoked in the rituals of the Hårga cult.

What does the breathing mean 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.

What do the runes on Dani's dress mean? ›

On her tunic, there's a Raidho on the left and a merkstaved Dagaz on the right. The Dagaz means fulfillment and achievement, but it literally means dawn - the rise of daylight, or rebirth. The Raidho inverted means discord, delusion or death. The Dagaz normally means purity, but it's been altered.

Why did Pelle sacrifice his friends? ›

The Harga, being a white supremacist cult that practice pagan rituals in the modern age, needed sacrifices for their Midsommar festival that occurred once every 90 years. Father Odd decided to task Pelle, who he remarked has an immaculate sense for people, and his brother Ingemar, with bringing them from abroad.

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.

What age is Maja in Midsommar? ›

This is Swedish slang for the age of consent, which is 15 in Sweden. Isabelle Grill, who plays Maja, was 20 years old when the movie was filmed.

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 Simon still alive in Midsommar? ›

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

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.

Who did Dani choose sacrifice? ›

The juxtaposition of this is shown in the collective yelling scene once Dani finds him with another woman. Her and the commune have a shared empathy for one another. So when Dani picks Christian to die over her Hargan brother, she isn't necessarily being vengeful, but rather choosing empathy over apathy.

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.

How is Simon still breathing in Midsommar? ›

In the scene, you can also see Simon's lungs slightly inflate, indicating that he is very much still alive. This is confirmed by the Midsommar script, which states that Simon is breathing. Time for a rewatch with fresh eyes.

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 does the rune Dagaz mean? ›

Dagaz, the rune of the day, seems deceptively simple and uncomplicated. The darkness of ignorance, terror, unknowing and despair gives way to enlightenment, comfort and hope. The shape of the rune takes us some way to understanding that things are more complex than they seem.

What does the rune Fehu stand for? ›

The Fehu means "(mobile) wealth", cognate to English fee with the original meaning of "sheep" or "cattle" (Dutch Vee, German Vieh, Latin pecū, Sanskrit pashu). The rune derives from the unattested but reconstructed Proto-Germanic *fehu in the Elder Futhark alphabet, with the original meaning of "money, cattle, wealth".

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