From the creeping paranoia of Rosemary’s Baby to the gory births of the Alien franchise, imagery of pregnancy and birth has proved a fertile ground for horror directors to explore and exploit. Midsommar, Ari Aster’s 2019 folk horror outing, is preoccupied with themes of seasonality and rebirth, so it’s no surprise that the film is saturated with imagery that evokes the reproductive cycle. Protagonist Dani’s journey from traumatised onlooker to embittered cultist is coded as a journey from conception to birth, and from infantilism to hard won maturity. In the process, Midsommar reveals a deep ambivalence, both towards the physical act of childbirth and the emotional reawakening Dani experiences.
Editor’s note: as this is an analysis of the film Midsommar, there be spoilers ahead.
Midsommar is Ari Aster’s latest horror offering following 2018’s Hereditary, and sees a group of friends who travel to Sweden for a festival that only occurs every 90 years, only to find themselves amongst a pagan cult.