Few filmmakers come out of the gate swinging as hard as Ari Aster did with last year’s Hereditary—a brutal horror film that quickly became an all-timer (while further proving that Toni Collette needs a fucking Oscar already). The intense response to Hereditary ensured that Aster’s follow-up would be thirstily anticipated, and with Midsommar arriving in theaters next week—and early reviews overwhelmingly positive—that’s certainly the case. While the majority of moviegoers won’t be able to behold Aster’s latest exercise in existential terror until July 2, the filmmaker has offered an intriguing sneak peek at his sophomore effort by way of a fascinating interview with IndieWire’s David Ehrlich. It’s an unconventional chat in that Aster, who is typically (and thankfully) hesitant to explain his work—as David Lynch said, “the film is the thing”—is somewhat forthcoming in exploring the numerous films that inspired Midsommar.
Even if you’ve only seen the trailers for Aster’s latest film, there are points of reference that appear obvious—The Wicker Man, of course—but the filmmaker had some rather surprising influences to reveal. Aster has described Midsommar as his break-up movie, so that genre was a huge point of reference—specifically Albert Brooks’ Modern Romance, which Aster calls his “favorite break-up movie ever.” It’s worth noting that Midsommar is a rather darkly comedic film, all (very brutal) things considered, and given that Aster was a teen in the ’90s, it’s not surprising that he name-drops teen rom-coms like Clueless—which he calls a “masterpiece”—and Can’t Hardly Wait.
Aster’s less surprising, but no less compelling influences include Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From A Marriage, Lars von Trier’s Dogville, and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s Black Narcissus—at least in terms of creating Midsommar’s three-strip technicolor look. (At this point Aster’s obsessions begin to mirror Martin Scorsese’s a bit.) Dogville in particular is an interesting comparison, though it’s one Aster notes only became apparent in hindsight, despite the fact that the opening shots of Midsommar feel like they were ripped from a von Trier film. Aster’s entire chat with IndieWire is worth a read, and while there aren’t any big spoilers, it’s understandable if you’d rather wait until after you’ve had a chance to see Midsommar for yourself.