Midsommar Director Ari Aster On Avoiding The Influence Of The Wicker Man

Ari Aster

by Ben Travis |

When it comes to folk horror, one film looms over all others like a big burning beacon, a monolithic figure that towers over the genre. That is, of course The Wicker Man, Robin Hardy’s 1973 creep-fest starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee – with a final reel that’s become an intrinsic piece of horror iconography. These days it’s such a well-known and much-imitated finale that when Hereditary filmmaker Ari Aster set up his own folk-tale horror, Midsommar, he had to try and put a certain flaming effigy to one side and deliver something different.

Midsommar

Speaking in the latest issue of Empire, Aster spoke about ‘letting go’ of The Wicker Man while making his much-anticipated second feature. “It’s a fantastic film with fantastic performances, but I basically let go of The Wicker Man as an influence the minute I decided to make this,” he explained, adding that those with a knowledge of folk horror traditions should still find themselves surprised by Midsommar’s shocking turns. “I tried to avoid it as much as I could. I think what the movie tries to do is point to The Wicker Man and set up expectations native to that film, then take a left-turn from there and go somewhere surprising.”

If there’s more going on in Midsommar than just creepy rituals, mind-altering drugs and flower headdresses galore, it’s a cranked-up relationship breakdown drama – an “apocalyptic break-up movie”, as Aster pitches it. “It starts off as this character study, then warps into this really perverse wish-fulfillment fantasy. You’ll see. The entire movie is constantly moving towards a certain… explosion.”

Empire – July 2019 newsstand cover - once upon a time in hollywood

Read all about the making of 2019’s most shocking horror in the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood issue of Empire – on sale now, and available to order online here. Read the ★★★★★ review of Midsommar here.

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