Since 1973, various horror films have tried to replicate the shock of the prototypical human sacrifice movie, The Wicker Man (not to be confused with its gonzo 2006 remake, starring Nicolas Cage, which is perhaps best remembered for the immortal, memeified line, “Not the bees!”) Even the late Robin Hardy, director of the original Wicker Man, went back to the well in 2011 with The Wicker Tree. Most movies, including that one, have failed to recapture the terror of the iconic moment when the protagonist turned sacrificial victim burns alive, surrounded by cult members. However, the 2010s have been bookended by a number of interesting horror films, each of which has managed to reframe the Wicker Man model in different ways.

One of those films, Midsommar, hits Blu-Ray on October 8. Writer-director Ari Aster has called Midsommar “an apocalyptic break-up movie.” Speaking with Empire, he talked about how he tried to avoid The Wicker Man‘s influence, saying, “I think what [Midsommar] 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.”

That’s a quote that could apply to other films on this list, too. Of course, this man made of wicker is not escaped easily. In some ways, he’s like the Gingerbread Man: every horror movie that deals in similar tropes seems to be chasing him. Here, we’ll chase The Wicker Man back through his own movie, then back through Midsommar and five other horror films of the 2010s. How have recent fright flicks approached the timeless subject of secret cults and human sacrifice?

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New Blu-ray Releases Far From Home

This week’s physical media round-up brings home your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. You’ll also have a pleasant time at a midsummer festival, and hang out with not one, but two creepy dolls. These are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week.

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midsommar director's cut

Labor Day traditionally marks the unofficial end of summer, but if you’d like to revisit writer/director Ari Aster‘s shot-in-broad-daylight horror film Midsommar, his director’s cut is still playing in a few select theaters. But if you don’t want to hoof it out to a theater to check it out, the extended director’s cut is coming to home video through an exclusive deal with Apple TV. Read More »

midsommar director's cut

If you’re in the mood for even more Midsommar, you’re in luck. The Midsommar director’s cut will be opening in select theaters nationwide this weekend. This cut features new and extended scenes and brings the total runtime to 171 minutes. So break out your flower crowns, stir up some special herbal tea, and get ready to dance your ass around the maypole all over again.

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flowers in midsommar

“Poppies bleed petals of sheer excess. You and I, this sweet battle ground.” – Janet Fitch, White Oleander 

Whether they’re in full bloom or slowly wilting, petals delicately falling to the floor like abandoned dreams, flowers can represent an array of emotions. It is customary to give flowers to loved ones during times of celebration and remorse. Their striking beauty and distinctive aromas provide a quick comfort, while some possess noxious traits that can elicit hallucinogenic, painful, or even fatal outcomes.

Ari Aster’s sophomore feature, Midsommar, utilizes flora to enhance the film’s visual and thematic use of juxtaposition. Light and dark. Foreign and familiar. Freedom and codependency. Safe and dangerous. The presence and use of flowers are reflective of both life and death while a young woman navigates through her grief in the sun-kissed fields of Sweden. Spoilers for Midsommar ahead. Read More »

Midsommar trailer

Devindra witnesses Face/Off live on stage while David discusses the HBO documentary I Love You, Now Die. For the feature review, the cast is joined by Valerie Complex to review Midsommar, the latest film by director Ari Aster. Tune in to hear how sun-soaked imageries can manage to be completely terrifying.

Read Valerie’s writing on overused queer movie troupes and on harmful LGBTQ representations in film.

Check out Jeff Cannata’s D&D show Dungeon Run. Listen to David’s other podcast Write Along with writer C. Robert Cargill Devindra’s new podcast Know More Tech, answering your question on the latest gadgets. Subscribe to David’s Youtube channel at Davechensky.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Also, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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Midsommar catharsis

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: Midsommar is one of the most cathartic movies ever made.)

Cinema has always had a way of making the real world make more sense to me. Throughout the years, I’ve identified with the heroines of rape-revenge cinema and the women of Tarantino films. When reality prevents me from getting closure, I can sometimes find it in film. However, I didn’t expect to find catharsis in Ari Aster’s Midsommar, especially given how traumatic Hereditary was. I expected to leave the theater feeling disgusted and raw, but I left elated. By experiencing my own trauma again through the beautiful and twisted lens of Dani’s story, my years-old wounds were scrubbed clean. I left feeling as if I had just been through two and a half hours of intense therapy. 

Midsommar is a challenging film. It’s heavy – full of grief, death, pain, and genuine horror. There are moments of levity scattered throughout as the movie riffs on its own absurdity, but it isn’t an easy experience. Aster has said in interviews that the movie is protagonist Dani’s fairy tale, and in a way, it felt like my fairy tale. I identified with Dani (Florence Pugh) in several ways, and our shared name didn’t hurt. Like Dani, I have an anxiety disorder. I have a terrible fear of abandonment. At the age of twenty, I moved thousands of miles away from anyone I knew besides my then-boyfriend, whose behavior mirrored her boyfriend Christian’s enough to be eerie. It wasn’t Sweden, but it wasn’t home either. While our experiences obviously weren’t identical, the interactions between Dani and the people around her mirrored my own. Her trauma legitimized my own. (Spoilers ahead.)

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Stranger Things 3

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, watch as Stranger Things cast members break down a suspenseful sequence from the recent third season of the show. Plus, watch a perfect trailer mash-up of the camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer and this year’s cult horror flick Midsommar, and see if comedian Tig Notaro can figure out how It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Glenn Howerton is on Under a Rock. Read More »

Midsommar Bear in a Cage

How do you help sell a disturbing 2 hour and 30 minute horror movie to the masses? Toys! The skilled marketing folks at A24 have come up with a funny and somewhat ingenious tie-in to their latest nightmare, Midsommar. The Bear in a Cage toy features exactly what the name suggests: a bear in a cage. If you’ve seen Midsommar, you’ll find this rather amusing. If you haven’t seen Midsommar, you might be curious enough to learn more. In any case, the commercial A24 put together to sell the Bear in a Cage has to be seen to be believed.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Spider-Man Far From Home Box Office

Marvel and Sony’s release of Spider-Man: Far From Home had no problem taking over the box office this past weekend. But rather than having a gigantic three-day weekend, the blockbuster release spread out the box office love across the holiday week thanks to an early opening on July 2. That allowed the movie to break several records that Avengers: Endgame was not able to shatter.

Meanwhile, on the indie side of things, A24’s release of the cult horror movie Midsommar debuted with the biggest indie opening of the year despite arriving outside of the top five on the box office chart.  Read More »