To that end, the film opens on its heroine, Dani (Florence Pugh), in a state of panic. She's gotten a distressing email from her sister, which is the primary source of her worry, but she's also concerned that she's relying too heavily on her disinterested boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), for support. "What if I need him too often," she wonders on a phone call to an unnamed friend. As one might expect given Midsommar's pedigree, Dani's fears are justified.
The traumatic event that has befallen her family is revealed in one of the most gruesome tracking shots in recent memory, and despite Christian's apathy toward his girlfriend, he continues dating her out of a sense of obligation. When June rolls around, he begrudgingly invites her on a Swedish sojourn to visit the homeland of one of his buds, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), who ominously advertises all the midsummer festivities that will take place. The group of American students includes Josh (William Jackson Harper), who's researching his thesis; and Mark, played by a sneering and vaping Will Poulter, who just wants to get laid. The trip is ultimately an excuse to party.
Aster starts employing some visual tricks as soon as his unsuspecting visitors touch down in Sweden. On their drive to the outskirts of Pelle's strange commune, the world is quite literally flipped upside down thanks to the psychedelic mushrooms the group has taken. Aster once described Midsommar as "Wizard of Oz for perverts," and stepping into the unrelenting sunlight of the Hårga community is indeed like entering the technicolor world of Oz, except with far more bloodshed. The drawings on the walls of the room where all the young adults are supposed to sleep spell out the trouble that lies ahead, but no one realizes how literal the art is until it's too late.
As the narrative draws on -- the film is a sturdy 140 minutes -- both the characters and the audience start to drift into the alternate reality of this community. Aster subtly strips away all connections to the mundane squabbles of millennial life so that by the end, you feel like you've landed on another planet.