Writer and director Ari Aster burst onto the horror scene in 2018 with Hereditary, a psychological thriller about a family haunted after the death of their grandmother. It quickly earned critical praise and grossed over $80 million worldwide on only a $9 million budget.
This summer, Aster is back with his sophomore film, titled Midsommar, which chronicles the terrifying journey of four friends as they attend a Swedish summer solstice festival that quickly turns dark and deadly. Midsommar's Rotten Tomatoes rating is on par with Hereditary's and buzz reached a fever pitch ahead of its release. But a major question on fans' minds is whether or not Midsommar and Hereditary are connected somehow.
The short answer is: It's complicated.
Unfortunately for fans hoping for a Hereditary sequel, the two films are not directly connected. But Aster did recently tell Fandango that Midsommar and Hereditary do share some DNA.
"There's no Paimon involved," says Aster, referring to the demon at the heart of Hereditary. "But I would say that the film is something of a companion to Hereditary, although the similarities didn't really occur to me until we were on set. And thematic ties became apparent to me. But nothing so overt as Paimon worshipping."
In fact, Aster goes on to say that he actually wrote Midsommar before he filmed Hereditary, so it wasn't written as a kind of response to his first horror hit. But the two films have a lot in common, in that "both films are very much about family," Aster says in a behind-the-scenes featurette about Midsommar.
"I also feel that both films kind of deal with codependency, in a way, although this film goes deeper into that," Aster continues in the BTS video. "In fact, I've described the film as a horror movie about codependency. I guess I hope that people will feel unsettled."
“Unsettled” is definitely one word for it. So far the film has been described as "a waking nightmare," "a thrilling, seasick freefall" and "beautiful, devastating and thoroughly unpleasant", though the reviewer means that in the best possible way. It is already being hailed as a "horror classic," so moviegoers should expect Aster's groundbreaking take on the genre to continue on for years to come.