Late in Midsommar, the bewildered American tourist Christian (played by Jack Reynor) finally blurts out the question he’s been holding in for his entire trip to the strange Swedish enclave of Harga. “Excuse me,” he asks a bearded townsperson. “What is going on?” He doesn’t get a straight answer in return—the man just claps in his face, sending Christian’s poor soul into yet another wave of psychedelic confusion. But viewers can appreciate what the writer and director Ari Aster has hidden in plain sight: a folksy slasher film with a wry sense of humor, playing out in unending daylight.
Christian and his friends have embarked on a remote Scandinavian holiday in search of cultural enrichment with a strong dash of hedonism. Along with Christian and his longtime girlfriend, Dani (Florence Pugh), the band of doofy Americans includes the anthropology student Josh (William Jackson Harper) and the thickheaded bro Mark (Will Poulter). The film begins with a deadly, insurmountably distressing incident in Dani’s family, which stalls the separation that’s been looming between her and Christian. When Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), a Harga native and classmate of Josh’s, recruits the group for a trip to Sweden, Christian sees a chance to salvage the relationship: What’s better for romance than a simple commune where everyone pitches in on labor, wears flowing linen robes, and seems more than a little disconnected from the outside world?