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Ari Aster’s latest film, Midsommar is unforgettable, to say the least. From brutal hallucinogenic sequences to a very gruesome suicide scene within the first ten minutes of the film, Midsommar certainly doesn’t pull any punches, just like its sister film Hereditary. Just like Hereditary, Midsommar features a lot of subtle scenes and moments that you will probably miss if you blink at the wrong time.

The layers of Midsommar go beyond a four-year relationship gone up in flames (pun intended). Ari Aster’s Midsommar explores artwork, religion, and even a reference to Heaven’s Gate, a real-life cult. Keep reading to discover more about the small, subtle hints you probably missed in Ari Aster’s Midsommar.

Midsommar | A24

What’s in a name?

Names are not always significant in films, but when they are, the name will often end up pointing to some foreshadowing, or some other hint to come. The very first line of dialogue you hear in Midsommar is a voicemail message from Dani’s late parents, The Ardors. The surname Ardor is far too specific to be a fluke or a coincidence. The word “Ardor” can be loosely translated to “to burn” in Latin, which could be a small wink at the gruesome events to come.

Another ironic character name is Christian, Dani’s longtime, neglectful boyfriend. Christian goes directly against the majority of the Commandments associated with the religion he is named after, committing adultery and bearing false witness toward his friends and girlfriend. It’s also worth noting that Christian goes directly against Hårga’s Pagan rituals, which eventually ends with his destruction.

Florence Pugh
Florence Pugh | A24

Artwork as foreshadowing

Interestingly enough, the entire story of Midsommar is revealed to audiences before the movie truly begins. The first scene is that of a tapestry. At first, the artwork doesn’t seem very significant. After all, it only seems to reveal a creepy rendition of the transition from winter to summer. However, if you look closer to the tapestry, you might notice a few more details you hadn’t before.

The tapestry at the beginning of Midsommar lays out the entire plot from start to finish. From left to right, we see the death of Dani’s family followed by the ritualistic burning of Christian and Dani’s crowning as the May Queen. Just like Hereditary, the tapestry from the beginning of Midsommar almost makes the characters seem completely trapped and helpless as if there is no escape from their grim fate.

Heaven’s Gate

Before Josh disappears and is eventually murdered, the movie spends a lot of attention on his Nike trainers. Most would write this unusual shot as product placement, but the reference boils down to something a lot more sinister: a reference to a real-life cult.

When the victims of the Heaven’s Gate cult mass suicide were discovered, they were found wearing trainers, like Josh’s, and sweat pants. While this theory has not been confirmed or denied by Aster, it doesn’t seem like too much of a reach to think that the director of a cult-horror film would throw in a few references to a very well known cult.

Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor
Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor | Gabor Kotschy A24

Was it planned all along?

The most disturbing theory of all the subtle details in Midsommar is the implication that Pelle set all of the events into motion by murdering Dani’s family and making it appear to be a murder-suicide. If you look closely during the scene in Dani’s parents’ bedroom, there appears to be a flower crown next to the bed along with walls adorned with similar flowers.

After all, Dani was the perfect contender for the May Queen. Her birthday takes place around the same time as the festival. The community believes that life is divided into seasons, rather than years. Dani, being in her mid-20s, is quite literally in the midsummer of her life.

Read more: Why the Director’s Cut of ‘Midsommar’ is Creepier Than the Original