I used to want to explore new cultures and check out the parts of the world where the sun never sets. But after watching Midsommar, I am just as happy to stay in Los Angeles and never leave my apartment. 

It's scary out there! 

The movie is an excellent look at trauma, character relationships, and social mores... and it all began with an amazing screenplay. 

Today I want to go over some screenwriting lessons from the Midsommar script and break down what makes it a new horror classic. 

Read and Download the Midsommar Script PDF,and then let's discuss! 

3 Lessons from the Midsommar Screenplay Breakdown 

1. Do Your Worst 

This is a movie literally about a village of happy people. In fact, the miserable people in our story are the main characters we follow. One of the things I talk about with newer writers is the fear of making things too hard on their characters. 

Well, turn on Midsommar and see how amazingly horrific Ari Aster makes things for his cast. 

Our movie opening sees the protagonist's entire family murdered. It's a shaking trauma that gives her so much pain she can barely function. On top of all that, her boyfriend wants to dump her, and she basically has no friends left. She's living with PTSD and the whole world feels like it's collapsing on her. 


Just typing all of that out I am like... how will she ever pull it together? 

It takes that level of emotion and trauma to keep your reader hooked. You want the odds to be so stacked against people that your audience is invested in how they can get out of this stuff. And in horror movies, it is no different. 

2. Defy the Genre 

One of the things I appreciate about Aster is how he is constantly challenging our preconceived notions about genre. When I heard that Midsommar would be a horror movie that takes place almost entirely during daylight, I was stoked.

See, the conventions or tropes of a certain genre are put there for us to challenge them. What can we do outside of the norm to keep people guessing?

When you sit to write, study up by watching movies that have similar themes or exist within your genre. Figure out how you can subvert expectations and still be intriguing to the audience. Is there a way you can surprise them with what happens? 

3. When in Doubt, Keep It Grounded 

The reason I think Midsommar was so successful is that despite some fantastical elements, it was still relatable. Not only was it about a couple in the middle of a break-up, but every lead character had something that grounded them in our world. There were professional jealousies, racial tensions, and subtle desires that drove their choices. They clouded judgment for people to stay or leave when shit hit the fan inside the encampment. 

How can you keep your story real and relatable? 

How can your characters be empathetic and also have tangible reasoning behind their decisions in the story? 

The more you can ground things, the easier it will be for the actors to find something relatable in the roles and I think the better the chance executives will want to be involved. 

What's next? Get our free screenwriting eBook

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