Hereditary filmmaker Ari Aster followed up one of the most disturbing horror films in recent memory with another one of the most disturbing horror films in recent memory, and we now know when you can own Midsommar to re-experience the terror for yourself. Midsommar will be released on Digital and On Demand by A24 on September 24th, followed by a Blu-ray and DVD release via Lionsgate on October 8th. That’s the good news. The bad news is the bonus features are practically non-existent, and neither one of these home video releases includes Aster’s extended director’s cut.
Indeed, the only bonus features included on the Blu-ray and DVD release are a featurette called “Let the Festivities Begin: Manifesting Midsommar” and the A24-crafted promo “Bear in a Cage.” That’s it. No audio commentary, no feature-length documentary, and no director’s cut.
Shortly after Midsommar’s theatrical release, Aster revealed that he had an extended director’s cut of the film that he’d like to release. This version was whittled down from his original four-hour cut, and when he turned it in to A24 the studio politely suggested he continue editing. To be clear Aster has said he’s happy with the theatrical cut, and admits his director’s cut would not have been sustainable as a theatrical release, but it does exist and it recently made its world premiere at Film at Lincoln Center’s Scary Movies XII.
Indiewire was in attendance, and offered some details on what the 171-minute version of Midsommar entails. It’s 24 minutes longer, obviously, but apparently that new footage is mostly comprised of pieces of scenes that still exist in the movie. It’s not different, it’s simply more. But that more does recontexualize a few more things, per Indiewire.
The report adds that Jack Reynor’s Christian is more explicitly a dick in the director’s cut, but the Harga community is also more sinister as a key nighttime sequence shows them nearly sacrificing a young boy in a ritual drowning. Per Indiewire’s account:
The Hårga gather by the water, and perform a lighthearted (if characteristically morbid) skit about making an offering to the goddess; in this case, the offering is a “brave” young boy named Bror with a very unenthusiastic mother.
Bror is dressed in the same tinselly chainmail that Christian helped put on the tree, and then prepared to be sacrificed into the water; they even force him to hold a giant stone for good measure. But the ceremony is halted at the last moment, as Bron’s bravery is deemed a sufficient gift to the goddess. Everyone laughs. Good times. No child murder tonight. But if you look closely at what Connie (Ellora Torchia) is wearing at the end of her movie when her body is wheeled into the funeral pyre, the mystery of her death can now be solved: She was drowned in Bror’s place.
The director’s cut apparently makes more sinister both sides opposite Dany—her terrible boyfriend, and the cult. In doing so, the ending apparently feels a bit less triumphant and a bit more complicated:
By troubling the water in several different ways (more of Jessika Kenny’s ominously gorgeous devotional music, lingering on Connie’s death in a way that emphasizes the Hårga’s obsession with their “pure” white bloodline, and eliminating any doubt that Pelle’s friends were always going to be sacrificed even if they behaved like saints), the director’s cut of Midsommar hammers home that Dani’s catharsis will be short-lived. A codependent relationship between two people is no different than a codependent relationship between 200; either you own your pain, or your pain owns you.
It’s fascinating how a half hour of new footage—none of which consists of alternate openings, endings, or major subplots—can somewhat adjust the thematic resonance of a film, but then again Aster has proven to be a rather masterful filmmaker so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
It’s simply a bummer that, as of now, there are no publicly announced plans to release the Midsommar director’s cut. Perhaps because the Blu-ray and DVD of the film are being released by Lionsgate that makes it a tricky matter, or maybe Aster and A24 are waiting for Criterion to come calling. Regardless, I hope we get to see it sooner or later.