Why the Director’s Cut of ‘Midsommar’ is Creepier Than the Original
When Ari Aster’s Midsommar first hit theaters in early July, it terrified audiences with its creepy rituals and an extremely disturbing finale. Now, Ari Aster’s terrifying folk fairytale has been given extended chapters.
Two months after Midsommar‘s official theatrical debut, Aster introduced a 171-minute director’s cut at Film at Lincoln Center’s annual Scary Movies festival. Aster introduced the director’s cut of Midsommar as “the more complete version of this film.” A cut that will allow viewers to stay in the grisly universe the film creates for a little longer. “If a movie is good, I want to stay in it,” said Aster prior to the screening.
While the additional 24 minutes do not completely transform Midsommar, they definitely add a darker, more sinister edge to the story. With an intense pagan drowning ceremony and more grotesque violence, the director’s cut of Ari Aster’s Midsommar is even more of a psychedelic nightmare than the original.
*This article will contain spoilers for both the original cut and the director’s cut of Midsommar.
What is ‘Midsommar’?
Midsommar revolves around a young graduate student named Dani, played by Florence Pugh, who has just lost her parents and her sister to a gruesome murder-suicide. Meanwhile, Dani has a strained relationship with her boyfriend Christian, played by Jack Reynor. Christian has been preparing to break up with Dani but feels trapped in the relationship after her family dies. In an attempt to cope with her grief, Dani joins Christian and his friends on a journey to a Swedish midsummer festival.
The film ends with Dani becoming the festival’s May Queen and Christian being burned alive in a bear carcass along with the bodies of his friends. The director’s cut of the film includes the same story and the same grisly finale but adds more context and more details that make the ending seem less like a fable and more like a nightmare.
Trouble in paradise
One of the central dynamics and themes of Midsommar is the strained relationship between Dani and Christian. The tension between the couple is building all throughout the film as Christian longs for freedom from the relationship and Dani can feel Christian drifting away from her. The two throw jabs at each other throughout the original version of Midsommar, but the director’s cut adds a few extra scenes that reveal Christian as even more of a jerk and show Dani verbally gutting Christian over his behavior.
Unlike the original version of Midsommar, it’s not up to the audience to decide whether or not Christian and Dani’s relationship is toxic. The truth of it is revealed very early on in the film, so audiences feel the conflict sooner and the ending feels even more justified.
The child sacrifice scene
Midsommar certainly does not shy away from showing some dark, twisted things. The film almost included an intense pagan ritual where it seems as though the villagers are about to drown a young boy as an offering to a goddess. After the ritual cliff suicides of the ättestupa (which was made even more grotesque in the director’s cut), the villagers and graduate students gather by a dark lake to experience yet another ritual.
A young boy is dressed in branches and other decorations as the villagers prepare to sacrifice him by tying weights to his ankles and lifting a large stone on top of him. Dani screams for the ceremony to stop and it’s revealed that the boy was never in any danger. This was merely a theatrical performance to prepare the children for their eventual sacrifice when they come of age.
This scene may not seem like it’s adding anything to the story, but it added additional context for the fate of another character: Connie.
In the final scene, Connie is seen wearing the same branches and decorations as the young boy. So, it would appear that not only did Connie never escape, but she was also sacrificed in the young boy’s place.
Midsommar will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on October 8, 2019.