Festival season is upon us and so is "Midsommar"."The highly anticipated project from visionary director Ari Aster ("Hereditary") challenges how we see horror movies in the modern age. While the summer horror genre we are so used to consists of campfires and forbidden forests, "Midsommar" offers an aesthetic unlike any other. Flower crowns and singing are not typically expected in horror movies. Focusing on green lush landscapes in Sweden, the Midsommar festival takes place in the land of sunshine in a rural village (thousands of miles away from the nearest grisly chainsaw massacre). Ari Aster has promised to create a refreshing experience unique to the genre, keeping audiences on their toes.
Traditionally, horror movies occur in two phases: tension and release. The first phase builds stress, whether or not the viewer realizes it. Knowing that what your watching is supposed to be scary makes the audience brace themselves for what is to come (a.k.a the scary scenes). Not knowing when or how exactly you are supposed to be scared is a tool filmmakers use to their advantage when creating suspense. The second phase of horror movies is the release of this stress and anticipation. For example, in the "Paranormal Activity" franchise the first phase occurs during the day-time scenes where the characters go about their day. The second phase happens at night - when all the spooky stuff happens. Therefore, the traditional formula for how to make a horror movie is as follows: build tension, then release (through jump scares, imagery, etc.). This formula is prominent in almost every single horror movie you could possibly ever imagine. By creating invisible tension we feel safe and when that is disrupted we have a reaction to the film.
This is exactly where "Midsommar" has promised to differ. Instead of the following the standard formula of horror movies Ari Aster intends to blur the line between the phases. Instead of the spooky stuff happening at night (phase two), the entire film occurs in daylight. With no definitive safe, tension building phase for the viewer, "Midsommar" vows to deliver an experience designed to keep audiences on their toes. By making what we think is normal seem unnerving, "Midsommar" will surely change everything we thought we knew.
If you are up to experiencing this new brand of horror, be sure to watch "Midsommar" on July 3rd, 2019. Let the festival begin!