Feb 21, 2024

Midsommar: Murderous pagans, Christian dick, and three gay-subtext couples. You can almost ignore the gay erasure


Link to NSFW version.

I'm interested in the possibiliy of ancient pagan religions surviving in contemporary Europe, in mummer's plays and Punch and Judy, so I wanted to see  Midsommar (2019) in spite of the reviews pointing out that everyone is heterosexual and a lot of girls get naked.

In The Wicker Man (1973), an uptight British police officer investigates a free-love island  ("Children, what does the maypole represent?" "A penis!"), and ends up being their virgin sacrifice.  A naked lady bounces all over the place, and there's a lot of heterosexual shenanigans.  Midsommar couldn't be worse, right?

It could. It's very long and very boring, with the "surprise" ending broadcast from Scene 1.  But there are a lot of subtexts that turn it into a gay horror movie.

Anthropology student Christian -- ironic for a movie about paganism (Jack Reynor, left and below) was planning to break up with his girlfriend, but then her familiy was murdered, so he stuck around out of pity.  

A year later, he's ready to pull the plug on the long-dead relationship and move on.  His new bromantic partner Pelle invites him and another bromantic pair, Josh and Mark (William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, top photo) back to his village in northern Sweden to witness an ancient pagan midsummer festival.

The Soon-to-be-Ex invites herself along.  "But Babe,.it was really supposed to be all boys, buddy-bonding, late-night groping, and orgies with Swedish studs, but....

Imagine the discomfort of sharing an 8-hour plane flight with your Soon-to-be-Ex, while the guy you are crushing on is sitting right across the aisle!

When they reach the village, which is populated mostly by young blond women and elderly white-haired men,, they meet Pelle's brother Ingemar  (Hampus Hallberg, left), who has picked up a boy-girl couples in London: Simon (Archie Madekwa, who you know from Saltburn) and Connie.

Simon and Ingemar are gay subtext crushing on each other. 

Got all that?  Three bromantic couples,  two with third-wheel girlfriends.  You don't need to worry about who's who; they're interchangeable.

Things go wrong immediately when one of the girlfriends has a bad trip on some magic mushrooms.  And when some of the village elders commit suicide by jumping off a cliff.

I'd be on the next bus back to Stockholm at that point, but the gang sticks around.

One of the bromantic partners is lured away by a naked lady to his death.  So much for heterosexual desire!  It can only end badly, either with a fragile, clingy, basket-case girlfriend or with a murderer.

Josh (William Jackson Harper) goes out in search of his bromantic partner, and is killed by a naked man wearing Mark's face as a mask.  A nightmare of heavily symbolic homoerotic desires

Simon and his third-wheel girlfriend  are separated and killed off camera.

Then Christian faces a fate worse than death: he is paralyzed and forced to have sex with a naked lady.


Of course the only way the villagers can get him to do the deed is against his will. 

Turns out that the villagers need nine human sacrifices every year: four outsiders, four villagers, and one who could be either, chosen by the Festival Queen.  So Pelle invited three people, and Ingemar two, so they'd have a leftover just in case.

The girl with the murdered parents becomes Festival Queen, and has to decide:who to sacrifice: Christian, the guy who was about to break up with her, or a random villager.  Who does she choose?  

There are only a few scenes featuring breasts and vaginas, and enough Swedish-hunk chests to keep you interested.  Plus Christian's penis.

If you want a bright, sunlit, openly-gay character, or any deliberate reference to same-sex desire, this movie ain't it.  Everyone pretends that they never heard of gay people.  But for a blast to the past, to the old days when gay people never appeared in movies except in occasional "fag" slurs,  it's a pleasant diversion.

And did I mention Christian's penis, along with a few others, on RG Beefcake and Boyfriends.

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