When Midsommar dropped in 2019, it terrified audiences everywhere with its creepy depiction of a Swedish cult. Two months later, the director Ari Aster dropped an even scarier extended chapter that allowed audiences to stay in the grisly world a bit longer.
The psychedelic movie contained rituals that are more of a nightmare. In fact, a cult deprogrammer said one Midsommar scene shows a “trance-inducing” process that helps cults manipulate members.
The premise of Ari Aster’s ‘Midsommar’
Midsommar follows a psychology student named Dani Ardor, who experiences PTSD following her sister’s murder-suicide. Her family’s death further strains her relationship with her boyfriend, Christian, who initially planned on breaking up with her before the unfortunate incident.
Christian gets invited to a midsummer celebration by his Swedish friend, Pelle. He, alongside friends Mark and Josh, see the invitation as the perfect opportunity to write their thesis as Pelle touts it as a once-in-a-lifetime event. After arguing, Christian invites Dani to come with them.
When the group arrives at the commune, Pelle offers them psychedelic mushrooms, which leads to Dani hallucinating about her family. The following day, the group witnesses a ceremony that involves two elders throwing themselves off a cliff seemingly to their deaths.
When one survives, the rest mimic his pain and kill him with a mallet. A commune elder explains that every community member has to go through the ceremony when they get to 72 years old, painting it as a great honor.
Dani is disturbed by the ceremony and attempts to leave. But Pelle stops her by narrating the story of how his parents died in a fire. Mark urinates on a sacred tree and gets lured away from the group by a female commune member and is killed. That same night, Josh sneaks out to take pictures of the group’s holy texts despite being told not to. Josh is bludgeoned to death by someone wearing Mark’s face.
The following day Dani and Christian take a hallucinogenic drink. She wins a dancing competition and earns the May Queen title. Christian is raped during a sex ritual. Dani confuses it with cheating and offers him up as a sacrifice during the final ceremony. All in all, it’s a terrifying and entertaining film.
A cult deprogrammer said a ‘trance-inducing process’ in ‘Midsommar’ helps manipulate cult members
Rick Alan Ross is a cult deprogrammer and specialist who entered the spotlight in 1989 when CBS covered his deprogramming of a 14-year-old member of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. The event’s coverage happened within three weeks. In the final stage, a psychologist considered him “cured.”
In 1987, Ross participated in the deprogramming of two former Branch Davidian members. He was the only deprogrammer to have worked with the cult members before the 1993 Waco siege. CBS hired Ross as an onsite analyst, with the FBI consulting him.
Ross recently sat down with Vanity Fair to break down famous cult movie scenes. He analyzed the scene where Florence Pugh’s character Dani misinterprets Christian’s rape and reacts accordingly. In the scene, the other female commune members start mimicking her pain, which Ross considers a dismissal of individuality.
Ross observes the rhythm of the wails, saying, “It can become hypnotic. It can become mood-altering. It can be a trance-inducing process. And so this becomes an avenue of manipulation.”
‘Midsommar’ was a hit film perfect for its summer premiere
Midsommar had a positive reception and was a commercial hit. Movie aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the 2019 movie an 83% score based on 399 reviews and a 63% audience score based on 5,000+ verified ratings.
The site called the movie, “Ambitious, impressively crafted, and above all unsettling. Midsommar further proves writer-director [Ari] Aster is a horror auteur to be reckoned with.”