A1 Journal article (refereed)
Rituaalikuolema ja perhetragedia : itsemurhan määrittely ja tabuluonteisuus kauhuelokuvassa Midsommar – loputon yö (2021)
Ritual Death and Family Tragedy : On Suicide’s Definition and Taboo in Folk Horror Film Midsommar

Kosonen, H. (2021). Rituaalikuolema ja perhetragedia : itsemurhan määrittely ja tabuluonteisuus kauhuelokuvassa Midsommar – loputon yö. Lähikuva, 34(2-3), 23-41. https://doi.org/10.23994/lk.111159

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Kosonen, Heidi

Journal or series: Lähikuva

ISSN: 2343-399X

eISSN: 2343-399X

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 34

Issue number: 2-3

Pages range: 23-41

Publisher: Lähikuva-yhdistys

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: Finnish

DOI: https://doi.org/10.23994/lk.111159

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/77828


ilms, especially Anglo-American ones, frequently depict suicide. Their representations reflect cultural understandings of suicide, but also independently influence how self-willed death is perceived. In this article I study how suicide is depicted in Ari Aster’s folk horror film Midsommar (2019). In the film, the protagonist Dani, who is mourning her sister’s murder-suicide, travels from the US to a Swedish commune, Hårga, with her boyfriend and his friends. The Hårgan midsummer ritual reveals differences in the two cultures’ relationships to death, emotional expression, and family.

One the one hand, I focus on the way the film reflects suicide’s nature as a taboo, as something simultaneously hidden and hypervisible. In the diegesis, suicide appears as a silenced trauma, as a source of disenfranchised grief, and as a death the protagonist is not allowed to mourn. Simultaneously the film reflects suicide’s instrumentalization and pornification in Anglo-American entertainment.

On the other hand, I focus on questions related to the definition of suicide or self-willed death. The film depicts conflicts between two cultures, where different explanation models of self-willed death are juxtaposed with one another. On display are two types of suicides that can be referred to as “egoistic” and “altruistic” by reference to Durkheim’s typology, which takes into account suicide’s relationship to society. Yet in Midsommar’s diegesis, these deaths appear as psychologized and culturally marginalized “diagnostic” and “cultist” suicides, and thus reflect the power of normative biopower over how self-willed death is understood and made sense of in the west.

Keywords: death; suicide; rituals; taboos; traumas (mental objects); medicalisation; biopolitics; representation (mental objects); horror films; cinema (art forms)

Free keywords: taboo; death; suicide; folk-horror; biopower

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2021-17-09 at 12:11