The One Midsommar Scene That Hit Fans The Hardest

Ari Aster blew audiences away with his feature debut "Hereditary," a deeply horrific examination of inherited trauma, familial secrets, and unexplainable phenomenon following a series of deaths. The film was hailed as one of the best horror movies of 2018, with many believing lead actress Toni Collette was snubbed by the Oscars when she wasn't nominated for Best Actress. Horror fans couldn't wait to see what Aster had up his sleeve for his next film, and were thrilled when he announced his sophomore scare fest, "Midsommar."

Presented almost exclusively in the daylight under the blue skies of Sweden, "Midsommar" stars Florence Pugh as a young woman named Dani who joins her toxic boyfriend Christian and his best friends Josh and Mark on a trip to Sweden to visit their classmate Pelle's communal hometown for its fabled midsummer festival. What begins as a relaxing vacation filled with gorgeous scenery and welcoming hospitality quickly turns into a waking nightmare of violent traditions and bizarre ceremonial practices where outsiders are presented for ritualistic sacrifice.

Horrifying From The Very Beginning

While "Hereditary" takes a turn for the terrifying roughly 30 minutes into the movie, "Midsommar" wastes no time traumatizing the audience. Within the first 15 minutes of the film, Dani is struggling to make sense of a cryptic message from her mentally unwell sister who has a history of suicidal ideation. Unfortunately, Dani soon discovers that her sister's message was more than a cry for help, and we witness not only her suicide but also the act of parricide of Dani's parents. The visual of the scene is shocking enough on its own, but it's Pugh's guttural cries of agony upon learning the news that continue to haunt audiences. Her pain is palpable and harrowing, making the opening moments among the hardest to sit through.

Shortly after arriving in Sweden, the American visitors are welcomed to the midsummer festival with feasts, dancing, and tea laced with hallucinogens. All seems idyllic and well, until the ceremonial events begin with the ritualistic self-sacrifice of two elders who willingly jump from a high cliff. An elderly woman lands, her face rupturing on a rock, but the elderly man misses his intended target and only breaks his leg, forcing community members to end his life with a customary blow from a massive hammer, directly to the head.

A Desperation For Community

With "Midsommar" taking place predominantly on the foreign commune, the deeply American desire of assimilation is interwoven into the story like the intricate embroidery on ceremonial cloaks, but in the worst ways possible. Despite being presented with boundaries and limitations, the male American visitors frequently break the regulations set before them — documenting forbidden texts, urinating on memorial trees, and showing blatant disregard, and even contempt, for the heritage that surrounds them. Dani, on the other hand, having recently lost her entire family, is desperate for community.

As Pelle tells Dani, "everyone deserves to have a real family" and "people they feel held by." It is this concept that sets the stage for the most memorable moment of the entire film. Dani spends the course of the film bending over backward to try and stay in the good graces of her friend group, her "community," but it is The Hårga pagan cult that finally offers Dani what she's been looking for all along.

A Chorus of Screams

After a physically exhausting, wildly spinning, hallucinogenic-fueled ceremonial dance competition, Dani is crowned this year's May Queen. The community of Hårga embrace her, celebrate her, adorn her with flowers, and rejoice in her honor. Unfortunately, this is all short lived as Dani soon after finds Christian in a sexual ceremony with Pelle's sister, Maja. Seeing Christian with another woman pushes Dani over the edge, and the build-up of trauma of the loss of her family, her acceptance that her relationship has not been good for her, and everything she's witnessed during the festival finally becomes too much for her. Dani lets out a mortifying cry, and rather than being forced to hide her emotions by walking away from the group or hiding in an airplane bathroom, her emotions are validated and embraced by the Hårga women. They carry her to her bed, hold her tightly, and allow her to feel everything she feels.

The women surround Dani, and mirror her cries as they increase in intensity, exploding in a visceral chorus of wailing and tears, allowing Dani's pain to wash over them all. It is at this moment that Dani has finally found the community and the family she's always wanted. Florence Pugh truly gives herself over in this performance, and watching her finally release all of the emotions bubbling under the surface provides not only a cathartic release, but a horrific foreshadowing of what's to come. We know from the prior events that the Hårga are a death cult, and Dani has welcomed full immersion and assimilation into their world. The shocking end of "Midsommar" shortly follows, with Dani's acting as a willing, smiling participant. The newest member of the Hårga family.