'Midsommar' Director Ari Aster On "Going Well Over The Top In Delivering The Goods" [Spoiler Interview]

Ari Aster left the world spinning with the gut-punch ending of his breakout debut feature Hereditary last year, and without spoiling anything (yet), the filmmaker certainly leaves audiences with lots to talk about with the ending of his new movie Midsommar. I've already published most of my conversation with Aster about the movie (including his teasing of a director's cut), but we were asked to hold any truly spoilery parts of the discussion back until audiences had a chance to experience this movie for themselves.

Now that Midsommar is playing in theaters, let's continue our chat with Ari Aster.

Ari Aster Spoiler Interview

Let's talk about the ending of the movie. It builds to this incredible crescendo, first with Christian's sex scene, which is somehow both horrifying and kind of hilarious. How did you strike that balance in such a vulnerable moment for these characters?

I'm not sure how I did anything in that I'm kind of going by my gut for a lot of this stuff. I would say I was going for a sort of toxic catharsis. The end is designed to be very cathartic because we've established a dynamic and the movie does a lot of work to align you with one half of this relationship. So there is then this punishment that's laid out for the other half that should feel cathartic because again, you've been against him through the movie. But it should be something that kind of catches in the throat and maybe in the moment feels invigorating and maybe in retrospect, one would have to wonder, 'Is it entirely justified?' But I think that's something that's kind of magical and also dangerous about movies: you can manipulate people to become kind of bloodthirsty.

It's almost hypnotic.

Exactly. If anything, there's fun to be had in kind of going well over the top in delivering the goods in a way that maybe could be seen as slightly poisonous in retrospect.

It seems like you take pleasure in that, though. Sort of standing off on the sideline, almost like impishly watching and playing with people. Like Dani's final smile in the movie is this really fascinating thing because it's almost as if it's giving the audience permission to feel OK with what happens to Christian, in a way.

I would say that I often find myself watching the last sequence of this film and I find myself laughing. So I do find it funny, even in just what it's doing. There's something funny about it for me. Yeah, I'm always interested to hear how people feel after the film.


Midsommar is in theaters now.