Director Ari Aster broke out into the horror scene with his directorial debut Hereditary last year. His follow-up piece, Midsommar, is on its way to theatres on July 3rd. What Hereditary gave viewers was a slow-burning and tense horror film that subverted expectations from start to finish. Some of the most spine-chilling scenes in recent horror history can be attributed to the film. A debut like that is sure to leave audiences wanting more, and anxiously awaiting a strong follow-up. So far, all news of Midsommar has been leading us to believe that we’re on to the next breakthrough in horror. The first stream of reviews have been positive, but it’s the recent official announcement that Midsommar received an R-rating that gives us faith in a strong horror film.
What We Know So Far About Midsommar And Its R-Rating
The last Midsommar trailer shows us a glimpse into the twisted and foreign setting of the upcoming film. The trailer opens with an arguing couple. We learn that our protagonists are traveling to Sweden for a festival. The girl, Dani, is dealing with some pretty extreme mental health issues. We know that this can only mean trouble. One of their friends, a Swedish man, seems to be the one to have invited them along. “It’s sort of a crazy festival,” he tells them. We know this as a warning, but they take it as a fun invitation. The group arrives at a small, outside setting, filled with bright colors, lush greenery, and intricate artwork. While it may look like a fun getaway, the eerie score warns us of upcoming danger, and even more tension starts to brew. Screaming, blood and a bear carcass, all shown in the bright sunlight of Sweden fill the remainder of the trailer.
Those who were able to see early screenings of the film have been praising it, announcing that Aster is a true auteur of horror cinema. Rottentomatoes has it sitting at a 96%, even higher than Hereditary’s 89%. Most critics have remarked that the horrific events all happening in the daylight is a nice contrast to the darkness we’re used to seeing in scary movies. The film is also said to be more frightening not in terms of jump-scares or gore, but in how unsettling it is. The more than two-hour runtime means that audiences will have to sit with the dread that the characters face, watching the darkness unravel before them.
What an R-Rating means for Midsommar
Unlike most feature films, Midsommar received an R-rating. The reason for the R-rating? According to the MPAA, “Disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use, and language.” This is not a movie that receives such a rating due to multiple uses of profanity and some partying. “Ritualistic violence” can only mean that our adventuring leads have found themselves in a pretty messed up cult. And if the “grisly images” of Hereditary are any indication of how this one will end up? We may need to cover our eyes for some scenes, as we may have done during “that” scene from Hereditary.
While an R-rating may scare some viewers away, it gives the film freedom. Without having to worry about staying appropriate for a larger audience, we know that Aster did not shy away from his true vision for the film. “Midsommar” is less interested in how its characters die than in how they live with their pain,” the director has said. There are few horror films out there that aren’t filled with death. But this movie is sure to focus on the suffering of the characters, rather than quick, slasher deaths that we’ve all seen before.
Watch with caution
Some horror movies can be fun. Watching jump-scares with your friends and jumping out to scare them afterward will never not be funny. This addition to the genre will likely be the opposite of that. With Midsommar having received an R-Rating and the recent reviews, we know that some twisted stuff is coming. What Aster likely intends is for you and your friends to turn to each other after the film is over, thinking “what the hell was that?” And we can’t wait.
Meghan Hale is a graduate student living right outside of Toronto, Canada. She has always been the go-to gal for talking about anything film related and has a frustratingly long list of movie trivia up her sleeve. She is currently working on her first screenplay, as well as a horror novel, with the goal of publishing it while Stephen King is still around to read it.