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Let’s celebrate! And let’s do it in some factor of 9. Well, unless you are 72 – then you’re celebrating days are over. Oh, and don’t forget the drugs.

Sound like a bunch of random rambling. Yes, yes it does. But it also is how to describe the movie Midsommar, which is our focus discussion for our first 2 part episode.

What could go wrong when you go to visit a foreign friend’s cult-like family for their mid summer festivals. What a great experience and a wonder way to spend time learning about new friends? You would think so and of course, you’d be wrong.

And hold on to your hats – because we don’t give you the end of the movie this week! What?! I hear you yelling. That’s right. Just when we start getting to the good stuff, we make you wait until next week for the rest of it.


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Midsummer Somar whatever, mid summer.

rhys: I

stephen: just say Midsummer. Midsummer. OK. Is it kinda the Swedish way of writing?

rhys: So I’m not really sure. I was really shocked to find out that it’s an actual holiday. And it’s not just a Swedish holiday. It’s like a decent size holiday all through Eastern Europe.

Like worldwide, there’s a lot of mid summer

stephen: service version of it. I hope. No. The holiday is based on the winter solstice. In fact whenever people are listening to this, we happen to be recording this the week after Midsummer. It kind worked out. It celebrated in several countries worldwide and there’s even a handful of locations in the states where they actually celebrate Midsummer.

rhys: Alaska’s a big one because not unlike Sweden Midsummer is when you will have a day where you have no night, really, you get a dusky Twilight at midnight, but that’s about it. They talk about that in the movie a bit.

Yeah. The holiday is so important to Sweden it’s even been proposed to be made the national day of Sweden.

Huh? It started as a a pagan holiday. Christianity came in and like Christian tradition, does they usurped it and made it St. John the Baptist day which biblically St. John the Baptist was Jesus’ older cousin. And so this would make him on the Christian calendar, six months older than Jesus was because Jesus is born in Christmas.

stephen: Traditionally that’s accurate too. Yeah,

rhys: Traditionally bonfires are typically lits. It keeps evil spirits and witches at bay. And in Sweden, the actual holiday, the celebration takes place on Midsummer Eve. Spot on Halloween and all saints day for us. So that Halloween is such a big deal.

Nobody even knows about all saints day, but right. That was like a pairing Midsummer, even Midsummer. So yeah it’s actually a tradition that we just don’t celebrate very much around here, but a lot of places really do

stephen: well. I’d be okay. Celebrating it, just not in the fashion, portrayed in the movie.

Let’s not do that

rhys: version. The movie is a us and Swedish film. It was released in 2019. It was written and directed by a man named Erie Astor. This was only his second major motion picture, his first being heredity, which came out and to great ACC claim. And pretty much as soon as heredity came out, he was green lit to do this project.

They were like, yeah, you’re gonna do another one for us. A lot of Astro’s other work are shorts and you can actually go on YouTube and watch almost all of ’em. Wow. Which is cool. Some of them look like film, student work, and then other of them are like not unlike Midsummer, this kind of ambiguously disturbing thing that you’re watching.

stephen: And I remember this is one of the few ones we’ve done that I remember being big, like movie posters on the side of the theaters and on TV watching just regular TV shows, seeing ads and trailers stuff. I remember being big and

rhys: heredity was a big big key to that because heredity he did on his own, a 24 was behind all of this good on them taking this unknown guy and that’s their niche, right?

A 24. Introduces a lot of stuff. He came out with heredity and it was such a hit that like, everyone’s wow, what’s his next one gonna be? It’s not unlike shoot

key and peel Jordan peel did us, but not us. The one before. Yes. Get out. Where it was just his first offering as a director, as everyone knew. And it was phenomenal. Yeah. Now a asters a little less like that because people at least knew Jordan peel, yeah. The

stephen: comedy guy let’s make a horror.

That’s truly different and really scary thinking about it. Yeah. Both of those were really good. I was very impressed with both. Oh, yeah it was okay off this topic for just one second, get out. Sure. Was one of those that a bunch of us watched it and we got done and we sat around and discussed it for an hour, what we saw, what we thought and various aspects.

It just had so many things we talk about that, pop in your mind and questions and stuff. And it’s very rare in today’s world that we get a movie that you discuss afterwards to that length in detail, not just reiterating it, but questions and opinions and thoughts. And that’s a rare movie.

I, I must say, so those are good ones. Yeah. And this one has a few of those also yeah, it

rhys: That’s what made doing this one so difficult, cuz it’s hard to decide how to proceed. Cuz there’s so much going on in it. You could just spend hours. Yeah. Discussing this movie and if you’ve listened to a lot of our podcasts.

You shouldn’t be overly surprised to find that I’m like a big fan of asters work. And you wrote a few notes for this one. I hear, oh

God, 14 pages when I was done that’s like a, that’s like a term

stephen: paper. We need to teach DIC or DIC the phone dictations. So you,

rhys: because when you’re having to do the movie and then pause and then type, and then go back to the movie, this movie is not short. It’s two hours and 27 minutes long that’s eight, 10 hours worth of typing on my end from oh, pause type start. Oh, pause type. I think when I was doing it, I was like the first five to 10 minutes. I was on that for an hour. It was

stephen: insane. Yeah.

And I’ve got a couple comments about that whole aspect of the movie when we

rhys: get to yeah. He wrote and directed this movie. He was born in New York city and trained at the American film Institute in Los Angeles. And again, he’s got a whole bunch of shorts. You can find out a lot of ’em on YouTube.

He’s only got two full length movies, heredity in Midsummer, and there’s one in the can called disappointment Boulevard, which I don’t know anything about. And honestly, I think that’s the best way to go into his films. If you don’t know anything about them, if you’re going in just completely clean. Because Steve and I have discussed this I saw heredity first and it influenced what I was thinking when I came into Midsummer and the way Midsummer ends, I was like shocked.

And so I mentioned that to Steve and now Steve’s seen mid-summer and he’s gonna watch heredity. And so I’ll be interested to see how the viewing of Midsummer’s gonna affect the way he watches heredity the other way.

stephen: Yeah. Yeah. And I think in general, a lot of horrors best to go into without knowing much cause today’s trailers give away so many things they do.

It doesn’t work so well. And I’ve had that argument with horror novels. There’s a lot of people that say, oh, you gotta have the action and the conflict right on the first page or it doesn’t grasp people. I’m like, but that’s antithesis to a good horror novel. You do that. And there’s no build up.

So means it doesn’t fit. So yeah. Avoid trailers. If you wanna see if you like horror, just go see the horror movies. Yeah. Some of ’em will be dead some will be good

rhys: watching the duds is

stephen: Half the fun we’ve watched a few in our time. Yeah. More than a few. Yeah.

rhys: Now I will say, when you read reviews for Midsummer, you’ll get this a lot where people see heredity and they’re like, that was awesome.

And they’ll go watch Midsummer. And they’re like, that sucks because they’re two very different films, the art and the craft that he does when he makes these movies is very similar. But the, but in tone and everything between these two movies, they’re very different. And he claims that when he made heredity, he didn’t intend on making a horror movie, which I have a hard time believing that, but that’s what he claims.

He said he just play set out to make a family drama and it turned into a horror movie and he says the same thing about Midsummer was a breakup film that evolved into a horror movie. He didn’t, and it’s not

stephen: a typical horror movie at all. Oh no, it’s a very subtle, it’s not even really psychological so much as some of the others we’ve seen, it’s it’s hard to define it.

Re I was like, wow, this is really hard to say why it’s horror? It’s got horrific elements all throughout and it builds up. But yeah, the whole way everything builds up it’s like you’re watching two movies at times almost the way it goes back and forth,

rhys: it reminds me a lot of audition.

Oh, yeah. Where you’re watching a movie and it has this feel to it. And there’s this undercurrent of ominousness that’s going on and you’re not really sure why. And then at the end you find out why yeah. Kinda thing. Yeah. Exactly. He also didn’t set out to make Midsummer and heredity a set, but now that he’s looking back on them, he does pair them up.

Because heredity is a very dark movie and the evil slash horror part of it is very supernatural in visceral. It’s in your face. Not really in your face cuz you really can’t necessarily see it cause everything’s so dark it’s there heredity Midsummer is crazy bright. In fact, there are times when like the lens is blue, the whites just blow it out because it’s so bright.

stephen: The evil. It’s Swedish, like you said, during the middle of the time, when there’s no darkness, it’s daylight all the time. And he brings that out a lot.

rhys: And the evil and horror in Midsummer is like personal and subtle. It’s not, I liken it to heredity is like a wear Wolf feeding down your door. And Midsummer is like you getting a letter from the IRS.

They both have a sense of dread

but one much more

stephen: immediate that needs to be our t-shirt a from the IRS. Yes.

rhys: Yeah. I classify both of those movies as literary horror. When we talk about classifying horror movies yeah. There where there’s so much more subtext in, what’s actually happening in the background and with the characters than necessarily action happening on the screen.

Yeah. Astor considers both to be what he terms full horror, which I think is another good term. Like mama, you could almost call a full horror story. He said in interview, I would say hereditary absolutely is a horror film unabashedly. And this film is I’m very careful to call it an adult fairy tale.

That’s what this is. It’s a cont adult contemporary fairy. And going by the definition of fairytale, we used on mama where it has to have a clear opening and a clear ending. There has to be a supernatural element and a clear evil. The clear evil part is kinda hard to put your finger on in this movie.


stephen: really this would be the discussion. Is it evil? Is there evil in the movie or not? Because really, it could be definitely argued. There’s not it’s horrific, but not evil. Yeah,

rhys: it we’ll get to it in a second. Astor wanted this film to be a breakup film. He had just gone through a breakup something you would go to see if you’d had been in a relationship that recently ended, he didn’t consider himself a horror director.

He thinks that horror as a genre is rich with potential when it’s done well, and it can deliver amazing moving experiences to the audience. But a lot of the movies are cynically written and missed the mark. Wow. And that could be our recommendation. Then this is a breakup movie. So for date night go get dirty dancing in Midsummer that’d be a good date night right there.

stephen: yeah. It’s really funny cuz whenever I talk to my kids about these movies sometimes when they’re interested and whenever I talk to ’em, I’m like, yeah, it’s a horror movie, but I would highly recommend that my daughters watch this movie because this is a female empowerment film.

rhys: It doesn’t have to be, you could switch the genders of everyone around, but because Danny is like the main character of this film, it makes it like this movie that kind of lifts women up.

stephen: That’s the the pagan beliefs and rituals a lot of times are the mother earth and mother goddess and honoring the sacred birth and giving birth and all that.

This really touches on that a lot. I think maybe that’s part of the horrific part is it’s these practices we would think of as ancient, but brought into the modern world and completely acceptable by these people. So that’s part of the horrific element there. One of the other

rhys: horrific parts to it for me.

And is this dissonance that happens and it happened like in audition when she’s putting those needles in the guy and she’s making that little D noise. That sound doesn’t go with that action. west Craven’s original last house on the left. The music that they play while the people are doing horrific things is almost like that kind of airy fairy circus, seventies kind of music.

And you’re like that doesn’t sync up with this at all, which makes it more disturbing. And so like at the end of Midsummer, where all of a sudden, there’s this smiling, beautiful Swedish woman opening your eyes as you’re a Christian. And she’s okay, you can’t move and you can’t talk now. Alright.

And she smiles and she steps back and you’re like that doesn’t jive with what’s about to happen. Yeah. That dissonance can really pack a punch.

stephen: Yeah. And we mentioned peel, he’s got that in his movies. That’s probably what makes them so good. It’s a, that unexpected what’s really going on. And that twist in the norm of what you expect or are

rhys: used to.

Yep. This movie hits pretty well with critics, but not always with audiences. Rotten tomatoes has an 83% approval rating from the critics and only 63% from audiences.

stephen: It’s definitely one another one I would pick and choose who I recommend it to. Yep. It was

rhys: nominated for 77 awards and 1 27, a lot of those going to Florence, pew for her performance.

So going to air Astor the production team and even trip movie of the year from the golden Schmos award was something that they won. Nice. The budget for this was estimated to be about 9 million. And this is one of those success stories because of all the hype leading up to it. The budget was 9 million and it took in 27 and a half million gross in the us and 48 million gross worldwide.

Nice. So it did well for the theaters. It’s not surprising that he has a third one already shot.

stephen: And wow, 9 million cuz it’s small set, one set really build the set and we’re done for the most part. Yeah.

rhys: Florence, pew is in this she’s a British actress. She plays Danny. She’s been in 27 films.

And for those of you who aren’t really sure. What you know her from she’s the new black widow. Oh, it’s not. Oh my God. I knew I recognized her. Holy crap. Yep.

She also did lady McBeth, king Le. She was in malevolent, which is another pretty good horror film little women, father of the bride, three black widow and Hawkeye.

And she’s got a whole lot of upcoming titles, including Puson boots, sequel a new movie about Oppenheimer and she’s in the second part of the new Doune series. So wow. Jack Rainer plays Christian Danny’s boyfriend. He’s been in 28 films. He’s born in America, but lives in Ireland now. So she’s a British act actress.

He’s technically an Irish actor. The movies he’s been in transformers, age of extinction McBeth on the basis of sex Maly and a ton of titles. I did not know.

stephen: He looked at a lot through the movie. He looked a lot like Chris Pratt’s brother. I know

rhys: that’s exactly what I thought while he was in it.

William Jackson of Harper plays Josh. He’s been in 44 other titles law and order criminal intent, just law and order. Pardon me? Great performances. He did voiceover in grand theft auto four. He was in 30 rock the new electric company. When that we were doing that in the early two thousands.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Most people will know him from his cheaty, from the good place. Okay. He was an American dad the underground railroad and a film called dogs in space, which I haven’t seen, but the title intrigues me. So

stephen: as long as not playing LCCA or leu or whatever that dog was, he’s

rhys: the only American actor actually in this film huh.

Okay. Of the main cast, I should say, I didn’t go through the entire list, but okay. Will Polter plays mark and he’s been in 29 films, including the Chronicles of Narnia, the voyage of the Don tread. He was in the maze runner series. If you watched any of those. He was also in the Revance black mirror, bander snatch.

He was in the underground railroad as well with William Jackson, Harper that showed dope sick on Hulu and he will be Adam Morlock in the next guardians, the galaxy film. Yep. Yep.

stephen: Which interesting. I wouldn’t picture him as that, but we’ll see, you

rhys: can do a lot with gold paint.

Most of the rest of the cast and I’m of generalizing here are Swedish and they are accomplished, but we don’t know anything that they’ve done. For instance, I refer to them as the honored couple the ones, the old couple from the middle of the move movie, the guy who is in that the gentleman in there is actually well known.

He got his start in some super famous Swedish film and I don’t know any of that stuff, but oh yeah. Okay. He’s a big name. This film originally had an NC 17 rating Astra cut, 30 minutes out of it to get to an RA rating. At three hours or two hours and 25 minutes, cutting 30 minutes out was a good idea.

Cause that would’ve made it almost three hours.

stephen: Yeah. And I even may make a note that 30 minutes in I’m like, okay, at this point, I know a lot of people would’ve been done, like I’m done with this nothing’s because some of the shots, the way they’re done and all that.

rhys: Yes. The film was when the film was released in Sweden here it’s like this psychological drama in Sweden.

It was pretty funny and they considered it a dark comedy. They didn’t really consider it a horror movie. So interesting.

stephen: Yeah. The Sweden have

rhys: weird humor. Maybe it would almost be like Tucker and Dale versus evil shown if someone was trying to do that seriously and they showed it to us cuz we live out here in the stakes with the rednecks and stuff and

stephen: very true.

It’s all matter of perspective.

rhys: Yeah. For a movie that is so big for Sweden, it was actually shot and hungry okay. Budgetary restraints, the film was green lit on May 18th, 2019. And it premiered on June 18th, 2019. Holy crap. Yeah. An amazing schedule.

stephen: Holy crap.

rhys: yeah. The script has Danny and her friends living in New York city and her parents live in Minneapolis, but the us shots were all filmed in Utah.

Again, I’m assuming that had to do with budgetary constraints. Probably they got with family yeah. This movie is sometimes cited online as a good example of co indoctrination. And I can see that and this is where the what’s good and what’s bad thing comes up, yeah. So before we get dive into the movie shot by shot, which there’s not enough time to do that.

In a podcast we will go an overview, but in general the concept of the cult that is getting Danny to join. When I first saw the movie, I really didn’t have a problem with them. I wasn’t seeing it as a cult so much. Now when you watch it a second time or a third time, you can see that they’re far more duplicitous than they appear the first time through.

Yeah. But I was seeing it as it’s a culture clash. Yes. And while the things they’re doing are horrific. There are like cultural reasons why they’re doing this. And these people like came here voluntarily. So calling it like evil was a stretch for me. Yeah. On the other hand, the way Christian treats Danny at the first half of this movie, a lot of people are like, that’s just relationship.

And I’m like, he’s literally gaslighting her and completely basically ignoring her as a person. Just keeping her as a girlfriend that he can put on the shelf and say, this is my girlfriend

stephen: because oh things didn’t work out. So I’ll go back to her tonight. Yeah. And again, right there, you brought up two things that could be argument is what the quote unquote cult does, is that evil or is what he’s doing to his girlfriend, evil again, perspective.

And the, it could be argued. Are they a cult or are they because they’re totally aware of what’s going on, they’re accepting of what’s going on. They embrace and enjoy it, and it’s not a problem for them. So is it our perspective that makes it look evil? Because to them it’s not, and they’re not going out and just grabbing people off the street 2, 3, 4 a month what they say every 70 years or something like that 90 years, 90 years.

And that, that had the whole pagan ancient mythologies thing, that whole cycle of such a long period of times, like the ancient evils and all that. Yeah. Yeah. That there was probably a whole essay dissertation for some class at college. The

rhys: number nine is prevalent throughout this whole movie.

You could just do numerology on this. The number of sacrifices at the end is nine. They break down the age groups into groups of nine. It’s a 90 year cycle. So the number nine plays a big role in this

stephen: no Beatles songs

rhys: used that’s right. Yeah. It’s a good point. Astor is known prominently for two things, which is funny, cuz he is only made two movies the, when you look him up, they’re like, these are the stylistic traits of every Astor and it’s one is taking, making very long shots, a comment that timeless shots.

Yes. And he will tell you that you film as much as budget will let you. And then when it’s time to edit, it’s a sorrowful process because you actually have to take these beautiful long shots and cut them down into something smaller. So they’ll fit in the film. so he is all about his raw footage.

stephen: And I made a comment about that and that’s exactly why a lot of people won’t be into this movie because in a typical, what you know what I call it, not Hollywood movie.

I’ve got a name here. I dubbed it came up somewhere. We’ll get to it the big unquote Hollywood movies. Yeah. Yeah. They have angle certain angles and shots and you expect a certain scene to be a certain way. It’s just we don’t even know we expect it, but it feels comfortable.

This camera set up 20 minutes of filming and that’s what, but he does and it’s not, and it’s not close up face all the time. It’s backed off and things move and happen. But the camera’s very stationary for a lot of this. Yeah. And there’s definitely a large group of people that, that wouldn’t be enjoyable to them.

Partly because it. That could be part of the horrific element. Just that unease, you feel watching this movie that you’re not used to, and that’s not even the story itself. And that’s something culturally that we’ve been taught it’s right. There’s not a right or wrong way to do this.

rhys: It’s just the way we’re shown at the very start of the movie. Danny is calling her parents while they’re asleep and there’s this very long, slow pan across their bedroom. And then across dad asleep and mom asleep, and then you can see the phone and you can see a picture of Danny the way traditionally you would shoot that is you would have the bedroom and then you would cut to the parents.

And then you might cut to the phone with the picture and then move on to the next scene, right? With this very long slow organic thing is how you would actually work as a person. If you walk into a dark room and you’re trying toey the scene, you’re gonna start on the left and you’re gonna look to your right.

stephen: And not even more so than that, she’s on the phone quite a bit. She calls her boyfriend Christian, and they’re on the phone. Not typically you get a split screen. Occasionally usually if it’s a comedy or you get back and forth, when they’re talking they, but not this, it’s 10 minutes of conversation sitting on her and you hear both sides, but the camera doesn’t move that whole time.

It ju and there’s a lot of scenes like that. Yeah. Again, it, this is where, this is a weird movie. It’s not large budget, but it’s not super small. It wasn’t a huge, productive Hollywood movie. It’s almost an independent film, but it was released as such. It was just, it’s a lot of things that don’t mesh up with this movie.

rhys: Yeah. There’s that one scene where she’s doubting herself on her phone with her best friend, apparently we never even see who the best friend was at played by. Because the whole shot is Danny walking around the apartment on the phone and you can hear the friend on the phone, but they never show you who she is.

stephen: Yeah. Who knows? Totally different. So yeah. I definitely will give him kudos for doing it different and still making a movie that keeps you engaged. Yeah.

rhys: His second trait that he’s known for is not shying away from graphic violence.

stephen: really, I, that one I didn’t see at all.

rhys: yeah. He’s not afraid to get the camera nice and tight to linger on horrific scenes, which

stephen: we’re all done very well. They, oh yeah. They didn’t look like rubber, plastic and crap at all. No, it’s they didn’t really do what they just looked like. That’s just, that’s all fake. Just making sure

rhys: the third thing for me, this isn’t anybody talking, but me, but the third thing that I note in his movies is he loves to put.

Ridiculous minute details in everything. And that’s art school training right there. A BFA under my belt. I can tell you they’d beat that into your head. Everything you think about has to tie into the overall theme when you watch his movie, especially after you’ve watched it maybe once or twice.

There’s little tiny hints throughout the entire movie.

stephen: Yeah. I, and knowing I’m watching this for our review I picked up on a bunch of those the first time, just because you start getting what you’re watching for, changes, how you watch things. yeah.

rhys: And this guy is so ballsy. He takes the entire movie in the first 30 seconds and puts it all out, illustrated as a Diptic on screen.

So you see this folk art Diptic and if to look for it and you pause the film, it tells you pretty much everything up until the last 15 minutes of the movie. It’s got the entire thing. It starts with like death and like her parents and her sister and this hose, and it’s all black and then sunlight, but it’s there not for very long.

And then the tip tick opens like you’re opening the book of a story.

stephen: It’s kinda like the opening of a James Bond movie where they show all the scenes in the little spirally and everything going on. Yeah. And then it opens to show us these night scenes in the winter and there’s this ethereal, acapella, female voice singing.

rhys: And it’s beautiful. They’re showing these beautiful shots and it’s dreamlike. Yeah. Because that’s what it is. It’s a dream and it gets interrupted. That’s

stephen: element is what’s going on real or a dream. It’s not as explicit as somebody get hit on it, hit on the head, but there’s enough throughout the movie that you could say is this really a dream because of the breakup goes back to being a breakup movie.


rhys: Do you have that beautiful music? And then all of a sudden, there’s this harsh sounding phone and a shot of a house in the dark. And that’s when we take the camera inside as the phone continues to ring and it pans across her mom and dad asleep. And you hear her on the phone saying, Hey guys, Hey, I got some message from Terry.

I was just checking in, making sure everyone’s okay. They mentioned that her, their name is Arter. Arter is Latin for flame. Oh. It’s that kind of thing. It doesn’t get mentioned much, but on occasions when you find out Danny’s last name is Arter. And there’s this long music list pan because the singing stopped with the phone ringing.

As it goes across the bedroom, there’s two people sleeping. There’s a photograph of Danny surrounded by summertime flowers. Another hint that, yep. And she’s talking about Terry or sister, and she’s not being able to get ahold of Terry. And as the scenes wrapping up Danny says she loves them and goodbye.

And then we go to Danny’s perspective and her backs to the camera in an empty apartment. It’s a very lonely looking shot of just her all

stephen: on her own. And we stay with Danny for quite a while. We

rhys: do she looks at her emails. We get to read Terry’s scary email. It says I can’t anymore. Everything’s black mom and dad are coming to goodbye.

That would be a concerning message. Little, pretty much

stephen: anybody. But unless you.

rhys: Didn’t like them.

stephen: but we also start finding out little hints that maybe Danny’s not completely all stable herself, which is a whole nother aspect of the movie. Every time something’s going on you can evaluate it.

Is this just Danny’s interpretation through her chemically unbalanced mind. Yes. And whether it’s naturally unbalanced, chemically, or not naturally unbalanced, chemically. I

rhys: actually read a piece where they argued that the entire movie is basically a redemption arc for her because it’s her fault. They’re dead the do the night that she calls and voices, her concerns to them.

And then she doesn’t call anybody. And we can see at the start of the movie, they’re actually breathing while they’re sleeping. Yeah. So if she would’ve called for emergency services right away, her sister probably would’ve been dead. But her parents would still be alive, but she doesn’t, she second guesses herself.

stephen: And again for this is out all the kids in college that are like writing papers or evaluating movies and stories, sit down for a weekend. Watch this one a couple times. You probably pull a whole lot of cuz you’re writing that mindset of these, those types of evaluations. Yeah.

rhys: She calls her boyfriend, Kristen.

And she’s like on the verge of tears and asking him what’s going on. She’s like on the verge of tears, obviously upset, but she’s trying to make herself sound as normal as she possibly can. She’s Hey hun, what’s going on? And he’s oh, we just smoked down and we’re gonna get a pizza. And she asks if he wants to hang out and he is eh, yeah, maybe I’ll stop by.

And then he asks how her sister situation’s going. And she takes this opportunity to say I’m getting worried and he’s blows the whole thing off. he’s like she does this all the time and Danny points out she is bipolar and he’s that might be, but she always does this. She needs to make it about her.

And she calls out and you it’s your fault because you encourage this in her and in the end, and this is the part that drives me nuts through at least 60% of this movie, she’s you are right. and she I’m horrible.

stephen: Which she’s obviously a little unbalanced with her emotions, with her thoughts and all that, which adds to the movie a whole lot.

But this goes back again, the evil part, cuz he takes advantage of her. Absolutely. With what he says, knowing her state and his friends come back here in a minute saying you’ve been saying for a year, you need to break up with her. It’s dude, you’re just hanging on it’s not helping her at all.

It’s making it worse.

rhys: Yeah. In fact, at the end of this call she’s I’m so lucky to have you it’s are you really

stephen: well he’s maybe held on with her the longest. Yeah. Three years. Yeah. She might not have ever had anyone stay with her that long,

rhys: We cut to her pacing in her kitchen.

She’s talking to her friend and she’s she’s gonna scare Christian off. And her friend’s he’s a loser so while she’s talking to her sensible friend she goes in the bathroom, she’s taking Atavan, which is a medicine for anxiety.

stephen: One of the few spots in the movie where he focuses on an item like that that’s very common.

But a lot of times he doesn’t do that when he could have right. Oh yeah. There’s a lot of pharmaceuticals taken in this movie. They never tell you what they are. While she’s talking to her friend, her phone, her call waiting goes off. She’s getting a call from unknown. We don’t get to find out what the call is.

rhys: Cuz we cut back to the pizza place and Christians hanging out with his friends at this pizza shop and his friends are saying, you need to get rid of her. She’s too needy. Look at all the women you could be having. And as if to prove the point, the waitress kind of flirts with him when she delivers the bill.

Mark is saying that Danny’s too much work for his little payoff, cuz she’s not really into sex. Josh is saying you need to get rid of her because you’re using her as an excuse to not work on your academics. And then PE points out how many Swedish girls you could be impregnating in June.

This is the first reference to the actual Midsummer event. So you have these three guys, you have one who like represents sex, driven, toxic masculinity in mark. You have one that represents ambition in Josh and then you have PE who. Represents the cult, honestly, as you watch this movie this is if Asher never says comes right out and says that he was influenced by the Wicker man, but he definitely was because this is the theme of the Wicker man, both versions.

You have your cult, you send people into the world, they bring people back. Yeah. And those are the people who get put in the big thing and caught on fire and so the one, so besides the guys being kinda like the muse that are influencing Christian, the one guy says, and she’s not into sex.

stephen: So this was a question for me right away. Cuz I did know a little bit about what the movie was about. I knew some people that had seen it, I saw the previews. So there’s a little hint, but I’m like, oh, is she a Virgin? because we’re talking about this pagan Wright cult and they’re hinting that she could be a Virgin there’s you know, obviously that’s throughout.

Colds histories and pagan beliefs and everything else. That

rhys: question

stephen: never gets answered either. No, there’s a lot of questions that don’t get answered. You mentioned the pharmaceuticals and they do a lot of them. So besides her mental state, her perspective, a lot of times is this real it’s okay.

Are we on shrooms right now in this part of the movie? Or are we not? We, it could be any cuz they’re drinking a whole lot of things that they won’t answer what’s in it and it’ll just make you feel better for your stamina. Yeah. Is the camera lens, the third party outsider that’s viewing what’s going on or is it reflecting what the person in that scene is experiencing at that moment?

It’s a big question for any scene. It is, but he actually answers that. Okay. At one point in the film, the audience is actually a willing participant in the activities that are going on and I’ll point it out when we get to it. Okay, good. Good. Because it’s super slight D he get Christian’s phone rings.

rhys: It’s Danny mark goes on this rant about how she’s abusing Christian. He goes to answer it and it’s just wailing on the other end of the line.

And we get to find out why cuz we cut to the art’s house and it’s a very slow progression. And it’s a way to describe what was happening because it starts with firemen in the garage, turning the cars off, and then we get a pan over and there’s a hose duct taped to this tailpipe. Then the camera switches to inside as the firefighters walk in and we see the hose runs on the floor, then there’s an overhead shot of them going up the stairs as they’re still following this pipe.

And then there’s the parents’ room where they open the doors, which have been duct taped closed, and the parents are lying in the same position. They were at the start, but they’re not sleeping anymore. Body bags being zipped. And then as they’re carrying the bodies out, they pan over and we see Terry and she slumped on the floor of her room and they slowly pan into reveal that she has that hose from the exhaust duct taped directly to her mouth.

And her laptop is open, which reveal she’s got a whole bunch of unread messages from Danny. Here’s the supernatural angle to the whole thing throughout the movie. There are several times where Terry shows up with a hose in her mouth, duct taped to her face. And at least one of them, Danny sees that Danny did not know that detail.

So this could be, but right. Yeah. But this could be like, it’s not something she ever saw. So this could be the ghost of her sister, haunting her in a way, trying to

stephen: protect her, trying to take her doesn’t.

rhys: The film cuts to Christian walking down a snowy street, then there’s just

stephen: one comment on the whaling.

Yeah. That’s one of those great examples of there could have been a whole long dialogue conversation about her feelings and stuff, but instead it was encapsulated with her doing 10 minutes of just wailing and that’s like it and that’s one of those great choices that you don’t see a lot of yeah. Especially American directors like to overexplain stuff. Yeah. And he does a whole lot with just primal crying in this movie. Yeah. You see him walking, Christian walking down the road, then you see him sitting on a couch and Danny is just laying in his lap wailing. And it’s one of the only scenes in the entire movie where I feel bad for Christian.

rhys: Because he doesn’t know what to do. You know what I mean? Regardless of how much of a douche bag he’s there he is. He’s there she’s crying. Yes. He has no idea how to fix it. Yes. Though, I did get the sense from him that he was like, oh my God, just let this over. This is not the first time.

stephen: And this, like his friend said this happens and he is kinda okay, I’m here. But dear God, and all he needed to really do was like glance at his watch. That roll his eyes. Then he does this really cool thing to show the passage of time where he pans in to the window behind Christian and it’s dark and it’s snowy.

rhys: And then they do the credits and then it switches to a summertime shot of the city and the camera pans back through the window. So it’s six months have passed

stephen: or so. And that the credits were cool too small in the center of the screen, faded out. I thought that was interesting.


rhys: We get this picture of Danny asleep in her bed, but she’s not asleep. She’s just laying down there looking at the wall over her head is a painting. The painting’s actually called Stockhouse IASA, which is translated to poor little bear. It’s painted by Swedish folk, tale, illustrator named John Bauer.

And it looks familiar to me. It’s for a book by Helen NBL called among noms and trolls or in Swedish. Golden’s Ving. It depicts this little girl with a crown kissing, a seated bear on the nose, which is a little prescient of the end of the movie. Yes.

stephen: Yeah. And that, that looked familiar to me though.

Very well could have run across it somewhere.

rhys: Yeah. Christian sticks his head in, he is Hey babe, he doesn’t even come into the room. She’s obviously depressed. He says he’s heading to a party for 45 minutes, and then she says, she’ll come along. And again, like Steve said, you could almost hear his eyes rolling in his head.

He didn’t want her to come along, but okay. She’s going to he also does this thing where sounds are muted. So you’re focused on the character. So Danny’s at this party, she doesn’t really wanna be she’s heavily depressed. The music is muffled as is conversation, and she’s just staring in the distance.

But sound starts to pick up as you hear Pella explaining that he and the boys are going back to Sweden to celebrate mid-summer and a rural calm MUN comes from, and Mark’s doing mark is going for research. No, Josh is going for research and it becomes quickly evident that Christian hasn’t mentioned any of this to Danny.

He, then when she like, looks at him, he is oh, I wasn’t really gonna go. We’re just talking about it. So the ride home is quiet, awkward, distant. They get back to this apartment and there’s this cool little shot where Danny’s by the door and Christian is reflected in a mirror next to the door.

So he’s like in a completely other world, as they’re talking about this, they’re arguing about this. Yeah. And she’s it just, would’ve been nice to know. And he basically turns things around so that in the end of their conversation, he gets her to apologize to him and say that she was wrong. And it’s oh, that’s just maddening for me.

At least. The boys are discussing the trip. And again, Christian shows how spineless he is. Cuz he convinces his friends. Danny’s gonna come act like you want her to go because she won’t accept the invitation. And then much to all of their dismay, she says, she’s gonna go. Yeah. And Mark’s Christian, can I talk to you in this other

stephen: room here?

What you thinking about

rhys: yeah, so they walk into the other room Danny heads over to talk to PE who seems genuinely happy that she’s coming. He’s a little bit of an artist he’s been sketching in his book. It’s a still life of a table in front of ’em and they talk about school. He’s really interested in how her school went, which after he asks the question, he realizes, oh, that’s right.

Your entire family died in the semester. So I don’t imagine it actually went that well for you. They find out they’ll arrive in his hometown on her birthday. Yes. And they’re headed back for a nine day ceremony for Midsummer, with pageantry and dressing up. And they’re having this lovely conversation and he pulls out his phone and shows your pictures from the previous.

We find out that people who live there are taught to Brunick alphabet and there’s a may queen crown each year. And he tells her how happy he is that she’s coming now. Sorry. He was to hear about her loss. And he was orphaned. It turns out

stephen: yes. And that right there, I almost heard the Don when he said, oh, I’m so glad and happy you can’t.

And I almost got the feeling that he was hoping she would, which was very ominous or was there something where he was manipulating things, like you said, that one phone call, we don’t know who it was from or whatever. They very much, it was overly ominous without looking ominous whatsoever.

It was just, it’s a horror movie. That’s. It seemed like an innocent conversation.

Yeah. Yeah. Very much. And so the one part I got confused on was he was showing pictures from the previous year of the Midsummer. So I was thinking about that. I’m like they can’t. Say it’s every 90 years, but then they’re doing this every year.

So I took it as every 90 years was like this year where they have sacrifices and all that. But in between, it’s just a normal, fun little festival in between. Yeah. That’s what I took that. Yeah.

rhys: And honestly, if you, or I went on one of the off years, it probably would’ve been lovely, enjoyable, fun, humorous, and wearing nice silly clothes and dancing and we get a little high or drunk and off we go. Yeah.

Just check your calendar before

stephen: you go. yeah. Count the years. Yeah. It’s like Haley’s

rhys: comment. Yeah, exactly. The branch Davidians when he mentions that she starts to have a panic attack and her depiction of a panic attack through this movie is amazing.

She’s just, yeah. Dead on. She gets up to go to the bathroom cuz she doesn’t want to have a panic attack in front of everybody. He does this awesome thing where it’s an overhead shot. She walks through the door and she closes the door and she’s in the bathroom in the airplane. Again, time has passed.

Yeah. A great way to do it. Yeah. She gets herself under control. She walks back out, takes her seat and the camera pans out the window and sunshine floods. It blinds the camera again. And as the camera settles, as they change the aperture, you can see that there’s fjords and the music comes in. Music is used very sparingly, but a lot of times when it comes in, it like sets the mood cuz the music’s kind of ominous and suspenseful it’s we see the fjords below as they’re flying by.

They’re now in a car, mark is being misogynist. Talk about how hot all the women are. And then Josh being the academic is the women were so hot because the Vikings would kidnap the best women from ES and bring them back. It’s a four hour drive out of the city to pull his home. There’s this really cool camera shot, where they’re taking an overhead shot of the car as it’s driving, and then it, the camera flips everything upside down.

So you’re not in Kansas anymore. You have entered into a completely different realm.

stephen: That was the great visual way of doing it. In, in the book the hero’s journey the call to adventure, you’re entering the magical world, leaving your normal world. And that was like, yep, that’s right there.

If you can’t name any other scene, it’s boom.

rhys: There’s a banner that crosses the road and it basically says welcome to Helen’s guard, which is like a state, a Swedish state. And then underneath it just to keep it authentic in Swedish, it says stop mass migration to Helens guard, vote for a free north this fall.

Apparently you have xenophobic people in most rural areas no matter what part of the world you’re in. The camera writes itself and we find ourselves in a field populated with small clusters of people, amongst large groups of flowers, PE gets out of his car and people instantly yell greetings to him.

And he explains that their younger people from his village they’ve returned from trips abroad. They’re walking through this field, mark displays this phobia of bugs, and it’s a running theme with him constantly. Now it’s very subtle on occasions. He’ll be like, are there ticks or something like that?

And there’ll be a conversation about him, right? But even when he is not saying stuff, he’s character, he’s constantly like looking over his shoulder and like brushing himself off as her to put that in there because he’s terrified of bugs so mark was standing in for Astra in that case. And then P’s brother Ingmar calls to him and introduces his friends to him.

And Astra makes the conscious decision to not subtitle. A lot of times when people are speaking in Swedish. So you were just as alienated as everybody else in

stephen: the group. Yeah. And I caught that and I’m like, wow, that cuz you like, oh man, I really would love to know. It makes it more ominous when I’m sure it wasn’t.

The conversation was yeah.

rhys: Could just been, Hey, how was your right? Imar when Imar introduces these friends of his, oh, these are friends of mine, mom that I brought in, these are friends. I’m like, oh, that’s not good. If everybody went out and brought friends back, that’s not

good. yeah. Ingmar pulls out some hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Danny’s not really into doing it right now. And then Christian’s oh, okay, then I’ll wait for you. And then Mark’s come on. So they all decide to go ahead and do these magic mushrooms. And they’re sitting, they

stephen: trip pretty hard.

rhys: yeah. They’re sitting at the base of this tree. And they’re trying to contemplate what time it is.

Because the sun’s up and it’s nine o’clock and Mark’s I don’t like it. I don’t like it. I’m gonna lay down. I’m laying down. It’s really nice guys. Everyone lay down. Danny stares down and she’s looking at her hand and she has blades of grass growing in the backs of her hand. She’s already beginning to take root in this area.

Yeah. And this begins like this halluc, Asher’s great with hallucinogenic trips. Things start to pop up throughout the film so much that by the end, things are pulsing and flowing. You don’t even register it by then because it’s happened so much throughout the movie. Mark mentions how they’re all his family and Danny almost seems to wake up at that word family.

She gets upset and starts to wander off no one chases after, you know what, you’re just tripping on some hallucinogen. You’re gonna walk around, knock yourself out in a foreign country. She’s having a full blown panic attack. Convince people are laughing at her and she complains to Ingmar and he is no, they’ve been laughing this whole time.

And he wants to introduce her to her as friends. And she sees this small shed in the distance. A bathroom, I would guess maybe. Yeah. I, if you look at the horizontal line on the roof, you can see it waving. Yeah. Because she’s hallucinating. She goes in and strikes a match cuz it’s dark and there’s a mirror in front of her.

There’s a couple photographs on either side. Neither one of them really seem consequential. But when she strikes the match, you can see there’s a person behind her. When you slow the film down, you can see it’s not a person. It’s Terry, it’s her sister, Terry with a hose in her mouth and duct tape all around it.

Oh, I didn’t

stephen: catch that. Nice. Yeah,

rhys: just you see somebody, but if you actually pause it, it’s Terry with the hose. Nice. Danny’s freaked out. She goes running the glaring sunlight heads for the woods and the screen goes black and we see her parents and Terry’s sitting on a couch watching TV, but her parents look suspiciously dead already.

And Terry turns and looks directly into the camera and the screen goes black. So Danny’s lying on the ground in the sunlight and Christians waking her. There’s more discussion on the time. Is it tomorrow? From yesterday’s perspective and Danny asked where they’re going, instead of a location pale says what we came for, where are we going?

What are we doing? What we came for? And then there’s another great overhead shot of the group, walking down this wood trail as music kicks in again, but it’s not ominous. It’s amorphic and flowy, right? You’d be hard pressed to pick out a melody. You could hum afterwards.

stephen: And I made the comment throughout the movie.

Not just here, but even later on, a lot of this movie is kinda like a silent ballet because who would go see a silent ballet with just the people no music or anything. This movie doesn’t have a lot of dialogue. You’ll go through whole sections where it’s music and picture, but no dialogue, no action per se it it just struck me for some reason that if this was something else, it’d be a silent ballet.

It’s just

rhys: different. Yeah. Yeah. There the scales, the song that they’re playing is just a series of scales. It just keep going up and then start over and going up. So it’s like a perpetual climb almost. And you can see overhead they’re on this. I don’t wanna say paved, but it’s like a worn trail.

Then they cut to the right and take the path less taken . And they find themselves coming outta the woods into a clearing. Mark continues to worry about ticks and his friends. Aren’t helping cuz they’re talking about all these horrible people who got lying disease and how horrible it was.

And remember that

stephen: though.

rhys: Yeah. The wooded trail they’re on is lined with these beautiful yellow flowers and they’re very careful to pick their steps. So they’re not actually stepping on the flowers, which I thought was interesting and they, and come to the clearing, they go through this massive sun shaped Archway only to be greeted by a welcoming committee, dressed in all matching plain white robes.

There are white robe people in the distance picking plants, others hugging new arrivals and the music you’ve been hearing this entire hike. Is played by a small group of pipes off to one side. The view actually takes Danny’s breath away. She stops, she like inhales and she smiles for another second,

which is probably the first genuine smile she has in the entire movie. When she first walks into this town, mark being the charmer that he is asks, if were they stopping off at Waco before they go to pales village? Because he is nothing. If not tactful a couple of youths come up and hand everybody’s strawberries and they eat them.

Don’t even ask. They just take them. And they’re like eating these strawberries. They take their bags away and PE comes back with a girl. He claims to be his sister, which we find out that he calls everyone here as brothers and sisters ING. Bar’s not really his brother. This girl’s not really his sister.

stephen: He then see, but a small commune like that. Yeah. It’s not uncommon. They even make a comment later about the kid and everybody raises them. Yes. So it is one big family is what they portray. Yeah.

rhys: He sees brother O and he introduces brother OT to the mini shakes. Everyone’s hand saying hi to everybody, except for Danny.

He hugs Danny and says welcome home to her. Yes. So she’s already set apart from everybody else there. She compliments his frock, which he says they wear out of respect for EIR. EIR was like the progenitor God of the Norse people. So he is the one who fashioned the earth Oden and all the other sprang from various body parts of his, I

stephen: was gonna say so.

rhys: Yeah. Yeah. Not unlike Gaia and Cronos and stuff for the Greeks. Josh goes on this brief sociological blurb about how that tradition of wearing the frock is seen throughout the world. The music changes and everyone congregates toward the made pole, which is this prominent thing in the middle.

stephen: And that’s so weird when they move. That’s the first big cult thing I saw when, cause everyone’s moving together. Yeah. And gong and they all stop and turn and move. Yeah, definitely.

rhys: There’s a lot of that with the community in this where they will they look straight ahead, they keep their hands down. And they do, they, they walk very plainly. Very uniformly. Yeah. yeah. Yeah. There’s a female elder there. We find out it’s S later on, but she addresses the crowd in Swedish.

Josh asks if he can take photos and says yes, but do it discreetly. And after Civ starts her thing in Swedish, she apologizes and addresses the crowd in English, walking them to the nine day. Feast says it’s been 90 years since the last great feast. And it’ll be 90 years before the next one. Everyone’s given a glass and everyone toasts this and drinks again, no one asking what’s in it.

They’re just doing

stephen: it. And the thing with the pictures it. Was so subtly not pointed out that it stuck out to me. And I thought it was weird because wow, most of these things, they like, oh no pictures I’m I was surprised they had outsiders. And then later when they wanna do the research they let ’em have access to almost everything it’s huh?

Why would they do that? Cuz they’re not worried about it. This is what it comes down to. Yeah. Yeah. There’s a whole lot of tension and like the whole thing with the book being gone and all this and all made up, it’s all just done to, like you said, build tension or division between them.

rhys: There is a cut here after everyone toasts the 90 days till the next one. There’s a cut here. That seems really out of place at the time. And you see some fingers mixing paint on a paper palette. You’re like what in the heck? And the camera pulls back and it reveals this white haired, deformed face looking intently at what it’s painting.

Then there’s a drum noise in the distance and the face looks up and we cut back to the festivities. And so it’s almost like here’s this beautiful place here are all of these beautiful people, all hanging out, doing all of this stuff way out in the open. However, there’s this kind of ugly underside to it.

That’s hidden away that we don’t know about yet kinda thing. Or is the whole thing, the ugly undercurrent, but we don’t see it yet too. Yeah,

that’s a great, that’s a great question. We’re at an hour and 10 minutes. Do you wanna do a two parter?

stephen: I’m wondering, cause we aren’t, we’re not to the halfway point of the movie yet.

Yeah. I was thinking that same thing. Yeah, we could do a part a part B and that makes sense. Cuz nobody’s wanna go listen to us ramble for that long, but it’s worth, it needs it so

rhys: well, yeah.

When you would, when you mentioned that yesterday, I was like, I don’t know that it’d be enough for a second part, but seeing where we’re at now, I think you could easily do it talk about yeah. Yeah. You could easily

stephen: do another hour even if the, yeah. Even if it’s 45 minutes still it’ll be worth it so we could do that.

Yeah. So part a part one, whatever. Awesome. We’ll keep everybody on their toes. Yes.

rhys: After we show that there’s some sort of undercurrent of ugliness that exists here, hidden away, we’ll get back will happen next, exactly.

stephen: Time. Next week. Same time. Yeah, we do that.