I made the mistake of watching Midsommar before I went to bed. The juxtaposition of the bright colors and the dark rituals played in front of my eyes for ours. All of the gore and guts were sent deep into my subconscious which caused some wild dreams. But after I processed the old lady’s mangled body bouncing off of a rock like a basketball, I realized there was one aspect of the story that was truly scary: Dani’s codependence.
In the very beginning of the movie, Dani is worried about her sister who has sent a cryptic email. She calls her boyfriend, Christian, for comfort, which she doesn’t quite receive. After he hangs up, Christian’s friends yell at him for not breaking up with her yet. It’s clear that he has been trying to get out of this relationship but is staying out of guilt. On the flip side, instead of being frustrated that Christian isn’t being supportive, Dani calls one of her friends worried that she is pushing him away with her family drama. The “drama” that she is referring to isn’t just a petty fight; it’s a sincere concern that her mentally ill and suicidal sister is going to do something terrible. She becomes much less worried about the safety of her family and suddenly starts to worry if Christian is going to leave her, even though Christian is, from what we can gather from this short scene, a terrible boyfriend.
Dani finds out soon after the email that her sister has killed herself and their parents. Dani, rightfully so, is devastated. She lays on Christian’s lap wailing in pain as he indifferently rubs her back, seemingly waiting for it to be over. Not long after Dani’s life is shattered, Christian tries to sneak off to a party. Because she didn’t want to be alone, Dani went with him. Dani barely had time to grieve on her own before she was forced into a social situation with people she didn’t know. From the way that the phone call scenes were shot, it doesn’t seem like Dani has many people in her life besides Christian.
At the party, Dani finds out that Christian and his friends are leaving in two weeks for a few months in Sweden to attend a festival at the village of one of their friends, Pelle. Instead of flipping out that he wasn’t planning on telling her, she calmly asks him to have a conversation about it. Christian gets defensive and Dani ends up apologizing to HIM. She is so desperate for him to stay that she is willing to forego her own feelings in order to keep him around.
Christian ends up half-ass inviting Dani to come, which she accepts. As they arrive, the group is offered shrooms. Dani initially declines due to her panic attacks, but after Christian acts like he is going to wait to take the shrooms with her and his friends make a big deal about it, Dani gives in and takes the drugs so that Christian doesn’t resent her. She ends up having a panic attack and runs away from the group. No one follows her and she is found in a field hours later by the unfazed group of friends.
At no point does Christian redeem himself worthy of Dani’s fixation. It’s Dani’s birthday during the trip, and Christian forgets, but Pelle doesn’t. She claims that it’s her fault for not reminding him. When Dani is succeeding in the May Queen dance competition, she looks out into the crowd of the villagers cheering for her, while Christian is looking straight at the ground. To top it all off, Christian ends up participating in a mating ritual with a young virgin and Dani sees it (however, whether or not Christian is completely coherent and consenting to the act is debatable).
It is scary how Dani allows herself to be treated like shit so that she won’t be alone, but what’s even more terrifying is how quickly she gets swept up in a relationship like that.
Dani watches as the Hargans’ bloody rituals in horror and even tries to leave, but once she realizes that this place will offer her a home, she is suddenly willing to forget about the rituals and accept her new family. As the May Queen, Dani was given a choice to sacrifice a villager picked at random or Christian. Just hours earlier, Dani was willing to do anything to keep Christian with her, but after she was welcomed, adored, and cared for by the villagers, she chose him to burn.
Dani’s allegiance seems undying but is simultaneously so fragile. She left one unhealthy relationship for another in a matter of days. She had been dating Christian for almost 3 years, but threw it all away once Pelle tells his story, which is similar to Dani’s, and asks if she “truly feels held” by him. I am sure that her friends have said something similar to her, but they had not offered her an alternative. Dani may have finally felt able to leave Christian because she found something to take his place. At the end of the movie, Dani smiles as she watches Christian and the last remaining parts of her “old life” burn and enters a new one.
Creepy. As. Heck.