Ari Aster's horror flick Midsommar tells the story of a young couple who travel to Sweden with friends in tow, and visit a small town's mid-summer festival. However, the equilibrium is soon disturbed when the group find themselves at the mercy of a violent pagan cult. The film arrived in UK cinemas this week, and has been met with a string of glowing reviews from movie critics. But is Midsommar based on a true story?
According to Vulture, director Ari Aster was approached by studio bosses to create a Wicker Man-esque story, and although initially turning down the opportunity to do so, he eventually agreed and created horror's latest cinematic masterpiece. This process could imply that Midsommar is not based on a true story, however, just to be sure I have reached out for comment on the matter, and will update with any new information once it becomes available.
Although perhaps not based on a true story, the film is indeed inspired by real-life traditions. According to Vanity Fair, the film's director took inspiration from various strange sources in order to create the Hårga cult. Before production began, Aster made his way to Sweden and teamed up with the local set decorator, Henrik Svensson, to carry out in-depth research. After visiting a wide range of local folklore museums and centuries-old preserved farms, Aster applied what he discovered into the story — including the classic elements of a summer solstice celebration, such as flower gatherings and dancing, albeit with a horror movie twist.
According to Esquire, author and journalist Po Tidholm, who has literally written the book on Swedish traditions, previously shed light on some of the events featured throughout the film. He noted that much of the horror included within Midsommar originates from the ancient Pagan history of the Midsummer festival — however this festival in Sweden, where the film is based, has very few Pagan roots. Speaking to Matt Miller from Esquire, Tidhol said, "to my knowledge there [have] never been any sacrifices on midsummer. Not even in ancient times." However some of the film's terrifying elements, such as human sacrifices, do emerge from other ancient European Pagans. So, although not always geographically accurate, much of the horror seen in Midsommar has actually happened — which makes this unusual horror flick all the more horrifying.
As The Sun reports, it isn't just moviegoers being left terrified by Midsommar, actor Will Poulter, who stars in the film, has also revealed that he was frightened "to his core." During an interview on Chris Evans' Virgin Radio Breakfast Show, the actor revealed, "It is rare to see something you are in and be genuinely so affected by it, when you can presumably see the scenes and the working out as it were. This one terrified me to my core, despite the fact I knew it was a film I was in."
The film currently holds an impressive 80 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a critics consensus on the website reads, "Ambitious, impressively crafted, and above all unsettling, Midsommar further proves writer-director Ari Aster is a horror auteur to be reckoned with." So, if you'd like to see what all the fuss is about, you can watch Midsommar in UK cinemas now.