In Midsommar, everything you might imagine as a worst-case scenario during a vacation to a remote village actually happens. The film released July 3 marks director/writer Ari Aster's follow up to 2018's strikingly disturbing Hereditary, and it's sent horror fans into a tizzy over its possible interpretations. These 9 Midsommar theories are just a handful of the disturbing ideas from audiences. And they'll make this greatly unsettling film — made by a writer/director known for paying exhaustive attention to details — even more terrifying. Major spoilers ahead for Midsommar.
Midsommar starts off with the tragic deaths of the protagonist, Dani's (Florence Pugh), mother, father, and sister. Dani's sister poisoned herself and her parents with carbon monoxide, leaving the grad student to grieve an unimaginable loss. Dani's boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), isn't much of a help, but he invites Dani on a group trip to a village in Sweden where a cult called the Hårga lives off the land. The group is led by Christian's friend from school, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), who comes from Hårga himself. They're joined by Mark (Will Poulter) and Josh (William Jackson Harper), who definitely don't expect find themselves in the middle of a satanic rituals that slowly pick away at the group one by one.
Long story short, Midsommar ends with Christian being sewn inside a disemboweled bear, a skinned Mark, and more gory human remains that all go up in flame in a pyre at the end of the film, leaving only Dani as the surviving outsider. And, as these theories suggest, all of that gore and despair could mean more than what meets the eye.
1. 'Midsommar' Is The Opposite Of 'Hereditary'
There are a few different theories about how Midsommar might connect to Hereditary, but Aster has repeatedly refuted theories that the demonic God from the latter, Paiman, is involved in Midsommar. However, the director has acknowledged that both films have similar themes, such as family and codependency, which he explained in a featurette shared on social media.
That said, despite its similarities, a theory published by CheatSheet posits that Aster's two films could be opposites. "While the 'scary' scenes of Hereditary primarily take place during the night, this new movie flips the narrative, including most of the story in broad daylight," CheatSheet stated.
The Hollywood Reporter also suggested that the movies have opposite depictions of Paganism. "Where Hereditary... explored paganism as something sinister, Midsommar approaches it as a benevolent power, at least when seen through Pelle’s explanations," THR wrote.
2. Pelle Is The Oracle
Various theories on Reddit pertain to Pelle, but one of the most intriguing ones suggests that Pelle is the Hårgas' Oracle, and he plotted out the events that unfold in Midsommar himself. Reddit user u/CrypWalkingToTheMoon supported this theory, pointing out that at the end of the film, "Pelle is given a crown of flowers and the elder says 'you will now be recognized for your unclouded intuition.'" This phrase is actually used earlier in the film. When Josh receives an explanation of the Oracle, a product of inbreeding, the elder says they have "unclouded intuition."
One of the comments on the thread, posted by user u/hobbessss, added that Pelle draws pictures of the feasting table that Dani and co. eat at in Hårga. The Oracle foresees events through images, so it's pretty strong evidence that Pelle was prophesying before they all went to Sweden.
3. All The Breathing In The Film Connects To The Tragedy At The Beginning
One dark and disturbing theory posited by Reddit user u/shainako suggests that the way that Dani's family dies (carbon monoxide poisoning), juxtaposes well against the heavy breathing portrayed in Midsommar. You could probably interpret the scene in which Dani and the women partake in communal deep-breathing — which verges on hyperventilation — as somehow mirroring the way her mom, dad, and sister died.
4. It's A (Twisted) Fairytale
The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that the story of Midsommar maps onto fairytale tropes almost perfectly. "Dani is the poor (emotionally so) maiden who travels to a faraway land and discovers her royal birthright. Christian is the inept prince... Mark is the jester, whose foolishness is his demise. Josh is the wizard whose quest to acquire more knowledge comes at a deadly cost. And Pelle is the noble knight, the servant of the Harga," Richard Newby wrote for THR.
In an interview with IndieWire, Aster confirmed that he intended for Midsommar to have this outline. "We never talked about this as a horror film, it was always a macabre fairy tale," the director said.
5. Dani Was Destined To Become The May Queen
Subtle clues that Dani would become the May Queen pervaded the entirety of Midsommar, starting at its beginning when Dani's room decoration includes a poster of a woman before a crowd of people worshiping her. Another piece of artwork shows a giant bear kissing a small girl, likely to foreshadow Dani and Christian's relationship.
As Reddit user u/foremanxc wrote, Dani might have always been meant to end up where she does, and the people of Hårga know it. That Dani looks like the many blonde-haired green-eyed cult members likely is no accident, and user also pointed out that a baby was born on Dani's birthday, representing the community's cycle that they celebrate with their Midsommar celebration.
6. The Murder-Suicide Visually Represents Dani's Isolation
Fans of Aster's know that the writer-director doesn't make choices thoughtlessly, and so the fact that Dani's family dies in such a shocking, eerie way has to mean something. Redditor u/clemenbroog suggested that the tube Dani's sister used to poison her parents visually represents the sense that Dani was cut out from her family tree. She no longer has familial ties after their deaths, so she was ready to accept the Hårga ways more readily.
7. Pelle Killed Dani's Family
This theory connects to the previous one that Pelle is the Oracle, and numerous Midsommar audience members on Reddit and Twitter left the theater feeling certain that the deaths at the beginning of the film aren't suicidal at all. Perhaps Pelle killed Dani's family to make her vulnerable to the cult's indoctrination so she can fulfill her destiny to become the May Queen.
8. Christian Represents Christianity
THR's Richard Newby wrote that the way that Paganism is portrayed in Midsommar portrays it as being based on sacrifice for others and the good of humanity. Christian acts only out of guilt when supporting Dani. Moreover, he fails to consider Josh's feelings when hijacking his PhD subject, so as Newby wrote, "Christian can be looked at as a metaphor for Christianity as seen by the Hårga." Of course, that isn't an objective basis, as the Hårga likely have a deeply untrusting relationship towards the Christians, which has a historical basis from when the founding of Christianity clashed with preexisting Paganism.
9. Each Rune You See Connects To The Story
Perhaps the most obvious yet mysterious clues from Midsommar lie in the meaning of the runes that adorn almost every wall and outfit in Hårga. One Redditor, u/branches-bones, identified the translations of the most pervasive runic symbols to mean journey and joy, mystery, secrecy, initiation, and death/end. Given the Hårgas' dedication to their religion, it makes sense that the runes, often known to have magical powers, might influence their traditions. Or, in this case, mirror the journey of Midsommar's main characters.
The more you think about each of these Midsommar theories, the scarier the movie becomes — and the more you'll want to see it over again to pick up on new clues.