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Ari Aster wants to make one thing perfectly clear: “Midsommar” is a horror movie. The writer-director, whose elegant and soul-scraping “Hereditary” inflamed a semantic debate about the limits of its genre by daring to possess routine tropes with real trauma, is eager to get ahead of that whole conversation the second time around. Not that he can do anything to stop it.
When IndieWire recently sat down with the director in the basement of a Manhattan hotel, Aster knew full well that his latest film was certain to resurrect all of the same talking points. Another indelible nightmare that blurs the line between tradition and heresy in order to stir the unholy spirits that live inside our wounds, “Midsommar” begins with a premise that sounds almost perversely basic after the madness of “Hereditary.” A grieving young American woman (Florence Pugh) joins her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) and his grad school chums on a trip to an isolated Swedish village that’s celebrating a mysterious pagan festival that only happens once every 90 years. People start to die soon after they arrive.
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It might as well be the plot of a “Hostel” movie, which is exactly what the idea was compared to when it was first pitched to Aster a few years back. And those trailers that made this feel like a millennial riff on “The Wicker Man?” They weren’t trying to mislead you. “This is a contribution to the folk horror genre,” Aster said emphatically. “I know the trajectory, I know how it works, and I was really excited about putting this movie in that skeleton and not doing anything to **** with its spine.”
Be that as it may, there’s something about “Midsommar” that makes you question what it is that you’re watching and squint at the screen; it’s the brightest horror movie ever...
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