Jordan Peele knows a thing or two about horror. The writer and director of Best Picture nominee Get Out and this year’s Us has branched out beyond his comedy roots to become one of the new faces of horror. He's a storyteller who enjoys making audiences squirm in their seats and cover their eyes in fear as much as making them think. So he’s coming from a position of authority when he weighs in on a new horror film like Midsommar.
The new movie from Hereditary filmmaker Ari Aster, who, along with Jordan Peele, is part of the new wave of exciting horror directors, doesn’t release until July, but Jordan Peele got to see it early and his thoughts should have horror fans super excited and those with weak stomachs feeling worried. Jordan Peele said:
I didn’t feel victimized. I felt like I was being put up on this pedestal and honored through the eyes of the protagonist. It’s a very unique feeling for a film to conjure because after it ended, I found myself looking back at the final act like, ‘Holy shit. That was some of the most atrociously disturbing imagery I’ve ever seen on film, and yet I experienced it with this open-mouthed, wild-eyed gape.’ I think that part of how we get there is never reducing the villains to any kind of snarling monsters with an evil agenda.
That Jordan Peele found Midsommar’s final act to have some of the most “atrociously disturbing imagery” that he’s ever seen in a movie is the kind of claim that gets your attention and makes you wonder just what the heck happens in this film that is so messed up. In a somewhat perverse way, hearing this is a great selling point for the film and just makes you want to see it more.
I don’t imagine Jordan Peele is easily shocked and Midsommar seems to have achieved just that, and if his response to the film was “Holy shit” I think its safe to say that many audience members will be saying the same. As to what sort of horrors Jordan Peele witnessed in Ari Aster’s sophomore film, we can only begin to guess.
In the trailers for Midsommar, there are a few brief, disturbing shots breaking up the idyllic images of a summer festival. Among them are a bear being dissected and bloody hands dragging across some sort of rune stone, hinting at the pagan cult behind it all. The impression you get from the trailers is that a lot of really gnarly stuff is being held back and based on Jordan Peele’s comments to Ari Aster in Fangoria Magazine (via Entertainment Weekly), that definitely seems to be the case.
The other interesting thing is the way Jordan Peele described his experience watching the film, and it’s somewhat difficult to fully understand his exact meaning of being put on a pedestal without having seen it. It sounds like the disturbing images, and the final act as a whole, were shocking to him in the moment, but it wasn’t until the movie was over and he reflected upon it that he realized how horrifying it truly was.
Jordan Peele attributes some of the uniqueness of his experience with Midsommar to how it portrays the villains. I think you get some sense of this watching the trailers. This isn’t a traditional horror movie with sinister monsters lurking in the dark. This movie takes place at a summer festival in Sweden, where everything is brightly colored, the sun is always shining and the people are all smiling, no matter how dark their actions are.
Midsommar opens in theaters on July 3. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all this year’s biggest movies, atrociously disturbing and otherwise.