Let us talk about Midsommar part 3

This is the third in an ongoing series of articles about Midsommar. You can read part 1 Here and part 2 can be found  Here

Let's talk about the three ceremonies that form the climax of Ari Aster's Midsommar.

The point at which things are clearly off the rails for Dani and her friends comes when they are allowed to attend a ceremony that is clearly very important,  even holy, to the villagers. The honoured at the ceremony is an elderly couple who stand atop a cliff looking down on the people gathered below.

We see stones adorned with runes, and too much washed out color. The crowd vibrates with excitement.  Then the old people fling themselves off the cliff and we are given almost pornographic shots of the destruction wrought upon bodies by impact.

Dani cannot bear this. Her reaction is our reaction.  Shock and terror and reflections of grief. Next to her, the village is rapturous.  They are filled with religious ecstasy by the horror. This is not unlike Christian fundamentalists writhing and screaming while speaking in tongues or handling snakes.

Not fleeing at this point fixes the fates of our characters.

It is now that characters begin to vanish
 In some cases we see what happened to them, and in some the simply seem to disappear.  Paranoia grows. Both Dani's and ours. Christian,  on the other hand, seems to accept all of this; be fascinated by it. He sees opportunities.

The distance between Dani and Christian grows as well.

Without knowing it, we have begun the second ceremony.  From the outside it looks like a party that Dani attends. In truth,  it is a play put on for Dani.

She is being initiated.  Christian will be used, seduced for his seed. Her friends are all dead , part of the ancient ritual.  And she will be the May Queen.

Aster gives us a full serving of gore. His camera tricks continue.  The score is masterful at making your bones it, the back of your neck ache.  It is too late for Dani. And too late for us.

She will be given a dreadful choice and she will choose the only thing that makes sense for her. She will choose to, for the first time  ,take power for herself.

Christian will burn alive in the final ceremony.

When the screaming starts, the villagers will scream and writhe  performatively and it will seem obscene to us. Dani, fully onboard in her her new home will, in the final shot, do the most obscene thing. She will begin to smile.

For the audience, this is the moment of greatest horror. Somehow,  we want to smile with her.

-Nathan Tyree