Garnering attention as one of the first horror films to take place entirely in the daytime, Ari Aster brings a light and airy spin on the horror movie genre. But does he do so successfully? We’re going to take a look at character depth and the portrayal of psychedelics. We’ll break down the plot points, showcase some key scenes, and even provide a Midsommar script PDF download so you can explore it yourself. Pack your bags, we’re off to bright, sunny Sweden!
Click to view and download the entire Midsommar script PDF below.
WHO WROTE THE MIDSOMMAR SCRIPT?
Written by Ari Aster
Ari Aster made his directorial debut just two years ago with his spine-tingling supernatural horror Hereditary (2018). He is also the writer and director of the infamous short film The Strange Thing About the Johnsons (2011), which circled the internet a few years back due to its disturbing take on a father-son relationship.
As a child, Aster recalls “[exhausting] the horror section of every video store [he] could find.” His fascination with the genre and passion for films led him to pick up screenwriting.
Honing in on his interests has really paid off. Midsommar is the second film Aster has written and directed for A24 over the span of one year.
MIDSOMMAR SCREENPLAY Synopsis
Here is the story structure for the Midsommar screenplay:
Dani is a 25-year-old college student whose relationship seems to be hanging on by a thread, in the midst of dealing with a bipolar sister.
Her paranoia surrounding her sister’s cryptic email is confirmed when she receives a call that her sister has taken her own life, along with the lives of their parents.
Plot Point One
Dani’s boyfriend, Christian, reluctantly invites her on the trip to Sweden he has planned with his friends and foreign exchange student, Pelle. Almost immediately, Dani finds herself having to beg Christian to stay by her side and go at her pace as they settle into their vacation.
Their relationship strains as Pelle introduces them and the rest of the group to the rather sadistic customs of his village during their midsummer festival. Christian responds to the customs with curiosity and fascination, whereas Dani remains on edge, disturbed, and skeptical of the reasons behind Pelle’s invitation.
Dani, along with an English couple, want to go home. While the couple seems to escape the rest of the customs, Pelle convinces Dani to stay.
Plot Point Two
Christian selfishly decides he wants to do his graduate thesis on Pelle’s people and their customs. The same topic his friend Josh has been working on since the beginning of the film. It becomes a battle royal of who can elicit the most information from the locals.
The rest of the group, with their eyes set on different activities during the festival, are picked off one-by-one by some of the villagers. Dani and Christian are the only two to participate in the remaining customs.
Dani is invited to join the May Queen competition where the women of the village compete to remain on their feet as they dance around a beautifully decorated pole, under the influence of psychedelics. Dani wins and is guided to help finish out the festivities.
Climax Part II
Also under the influence of psychedelics, Christian is coerced into performing a mating ritual with one of the young village girls, Maja. Dani catches him in the act.
Still, under the influence, Dani must choose a sacrifice to complete the midsummer festivities. She must choose between a now paralyzed Christian and a willing villager. She chooses Christian.
As Christian is sacrificed and the village celebrates, Dani’s subtle smirk on her May Queen pedestal indicates she’s finally free of her worries and at home with her new family.
Midsommar Script Takeaway #1
One aspect that lends itself to the uneasiness of the film is its use of psychedelics. Aster does a great job straying away from the usual cheap cartoonish visual interpretations of the drug. Dani’s perception is slightly altered, the earth around her breathing, and (if you’ve seen the film) we get to see that from her perspective.
Read the scene here: notice how Aster gives us just enough visualization in the description but never loses sight of Dani's personal experience.
Aster strays away from having Dani see too many things, even though most people have an understanding that that is what psychedelics do to you. Instead, her anxiety and paranoia become more apparent through the dialogue she has with herself as she attempts to calm her nerves.
Psychedelics aren’t used again until much later in the film. The difference being that it’s encouraged by the villagers as a part of the rituals. But from its initial use, it does make you question how Dani’s “bad trip” influences her thoughts and actions leading up to the climax.
Despite the hallucinogenic imagery in the background, Ari Aster also using blocking and staging to keep the tension constant. Watch this breakdown of how Aster activates the background to tell a multi-layered story and add unsettling questions that go unanswered.
Midsommar Script Takeaway #2
Characters in Midsommar
There are a lot of characters to keep track of throughout the script, as this is set in an entire village of people who all play a role in the festivities. But it does cause an issue when trying to find a rooting interest. In the beginning of the film, we feel bad for Dani because of her loss, but that is quickly forgotten by the time we get to Sweden.
It isn’t until over half-way through the script that it becomes apparent Dani is being dragged along by Christian’s self-centeredness and that she is a victim of emotional abuse. Here's the scene in the Midsommar screenplay in which Dani and Christian's relationship takes a turn.
Pelle on the other hand, essentially the group’s antagonist, is written very well. He’s in his homeland on his playing field, and they have no option but to trust him. Especially when they don’t speak the language. So when it’s apparent that he’s not a good guy, his interactions with Dani come across much more sinister.
In various scenes, Pelle is able to work on Dani's emotionally fragile state. Like Christian, he is able to manipulate Dani to bend her to his will. Sometimes, villains don't have to lift a finger to enact their cruelty.
Midsommar Script Takeaway #3
Explaining the Midsommar ending
Those who are a bit more expressive will understand how the ending of the Midsommar script, composed mostly of Dani’s facial expressions, translates very well on screen. It answers the big question at the end, why does Dani choose Christian?
In part, it’s a twist on the phrase “if you can’t beat them join them.” But Dani is never trying to beat anyone, instead, she is dragged to a foreign land, with no way home, by a romantic partner who has made it apparent on several occasions that he doesn’t care about her.
She also has no family to go back to, and if in those final moments she’s come to the conclusion that Christian isn’t the one for her, why not assimilate to the environment she now finds herself in?
The seclusion of the village, the disorienting nature of psychedelics in a village that never sees nightfall, along with the odd customs and rituals, shows that you don’t always need a dark and ominous atmosphere to produce a well-thought-out horror film.
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Aster’s take on horror becomes a genre entirely of its own.
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Midsommar isn't just a great horror movie. It is also one of the best movies ever made about living with mental illness. If you want to read more great scripts, we have Joker, Alien and Gone Girl in our screenplay database. Great screenwriters read lots of scripts. Get started today!