Following the smash success of last year’s Herditary, Writer-Director Ari Aster is in Toronto to present his latest, Psychological Thriller-Horror MIDSOMMAR. The Film follows a young couple, Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) on the down and out, this as Dani is coping with a devastating loss. They venture to Sweden with his friends to a Pagan Festival which takes place only once every 90 years. Much to their horror, they witness some gruesome rituals and soon find themselves deeper involved than imagined.
Aster and Reynor spoke at the Q&A presented by Rue Morgue. Contrary to rumour, this isn’t Aster’s last Horror Film, he tells the audience We ask Aster about the gorgeous locations and what went into filming there. He explains the Film, which he’s described jokingly as “The Wizard of Oz for perverts”, despite being set in Sweden, was filmed in Hungary. His challenge was finding the perfect field on which the set, comprised of about ten houses, was built from scratch and on a tight budget.
Reynor tells us about his amazing Co-Star Pugh, who continues to see her star rise. “I feel as an Actress, there’s nothing that she can’t do. I’ve never had experience of doing a scene with someone like where in that scene where she’s discovered what ‘s happened to her family. She’s screaming. This guttural, animalistic response to this horrific trauma.”. He adds, “I’ve never had another Actor just give me my performance. I didn’t have to think. I just started crying instantly because of the way she’s playing her.”.
See some Clips from the Q&A:
See some Snaps from the night. Navigate the album with the right arrow.
It is a rather innocuous quote, but one that perfectly describes the aura around Ari Aster’s critically-acclaimed Film Hereditary. The first-time feature Writer/Director has received unanimous praise out of both Sundance and SXSW for his Tale of a grieving family who, in the wake of their matriarch’s death, discover nightmarish secrets relating to their ancestry. Aster presented the Film at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Wednesday evening – the first Canadian public screening – and followed with a Q&A with the George Stroumboulopoulos.
And when your Film is being touted on posters as the “scariest Film since The Exorcist”, you know the audience is in for something special.
The less said about the shocks and surprises found within Hereditary, the better. For Aster, he just wanted to “make a Movie about grief and trauma.” But having watched various Oscar-type movies during his schooling at AFI and Sundance, he knew he had to make something more unique and outside the box: “It’s in me to see [those kinds of movies] and think, what’s the worst thing I can do here?” He doubled down by suggesting the whole point of Hereditary was to “make a Film that didn’t let people off the hook” for what they were involved with, suggesting not so-subtly that “everything that’s coming is inevitable.”
Another important element of Aster’s discussion with Strombo was regarding the Film’s Sound Design. Much of the sounds came directly off the pages of Aster’s Script, but his Sound Team was determined to use them in radically different ways. “We played a lot with using different speakers,” Aster says, using them to express not just the sounds on-screen, but the different emotions and feelings of the characters. He stressed that some effects – including mouth clicking that becomes progressively more horrifying – were designed to be “played in different parts of the room” at all times. As Aster recalled, listening on a conventional stereo system completely ruined the terrifying effects he was going for (and in turn, Colin Stetson’s enigmatic Score), remarking that he “wanted this sub base thing that you feel in your guts more than you hear it.”
But no matter where the conversation went (including a brief mention of how proud he was of Lead Actress Toni Collette’s “kamikaze” performance), Aster kept circling back to the feeling he was trying to evoke through every twisted frame of Hereditary. “I wanted to test your patience,” he told the packed audience, noting that “As the [characters] were suffering, the Movie is smiling.” And while he describes the Film as “sinister” and “mean-spirited”, he continues to be both shocked and delighted at the acclaim the Film keeps receiving – he just assumed he was “making a really alienating movie that made people feel bad.”
I will save my full thoughts on Hereditary for my upcoming Review but will note that I do not remember the last time I was so unsettled and unnerved watching a Movie. So skip the Trailers and start mentally preparing yourself – you will not want to miss out on this future Horror classic.
Elevation Pictures release HEREDITARY on June 8, 2018.