Jordan Peele Says Midsommar's Idyllic Beauty 'Transcends the Horror of Itself'

A crop of the Midsommar poster.
A crop of the Midsommar poster.
Image: A24

Beneath the vibrantly saturated facade of Ari Aster’s upcoming folk horror film Midsommar, there are some very dark secrets. Two American tourists journey to a small Swedish town for what they believe is going to be a normal vacation, but they soon realize that they’ve arrived just in time for a festival that only takes place every 90 years—a festival marked by a series of violent, twisted rituals that the locals insist they participate in.


While Midsommar’s first trailer was light in the way of details about just what kind of monstrosities it has in store for audiences, a recent Fangoria interview between Aster (Hereditary) and Us director Jordan Peele provides some interesting insight about the film. Peele points out that one way Midsommar is particularly unnerving is how it presents beautiful, wide open spaces that one doesn’t expect to be centered in a horror film:

“I’m a staunch believer that audiences are so accustomed to claustrophobic, dirty horror movies that situate them in places they wouldn’t elect to be, that the innate slickness of Hereditary and the sheer vacation that Midsommar provides, to me, is a recipe for, ‘I want to go see that movie.’

It plays a weird sleight of hand, where it transcends the horror of itself. It is an ascension of horror. I didn’t feel victimized; I felt like I was being put up on this pedestal and honored through the eyes of the protagonist. It’s a very unique feeling for a film to conjure because after it ended, I found myself looking back at the final act like, ‘Holy s‑‑‑.’ That was some of the most atrociously disturbing imagery I’ve ever seen on film, and yet I experienced it with this open-mouthed, wild-eyed gape.”

Peele’s point about not feeling victimized is particularly interesting, if only because the director’s demonstrated that it’s something he’s keenly aware of and concerned about in his own films. But just because Midsommar didn’t traumatize Peele, that doesn’t mean it won’t scare the shit out of you (and then some) when it hits theaters on July 3.

For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.

Charles Pulliam-Moore is an NYC-based culture critic whose work centers on fandom, pop culture, politics, race, and sexuality. He still thinks Cyclops made a few valid points.


Zach Miller

I don’t usually see horror movies in theaters, but I will probably make an exception for this one. I didn’t think Hereditary held together all that well in the end, but I enjoyed it; very interested to see this follow-up.