Although Midsommar crosses a lot of boundaries in terms of genres it explores and influences it draws upon, an undercurrent of horror is always there — an air of menace that eventually pays off in not just one or two but a series of gruesome deaths. One, in particular, stands out, though.
**SPOILER WARNING: There are spoilers for Midsommar below!**
Jack Reynor’s Christian seems earmarked for a grisly demise from early on in the film, thanks to his treatment of Dani, the woman he’s reluctantly in a relationship with. But it’s not until we see the full scope of his petulance and insensitivity that he receives his karmic comeuppance. The actor indicated that his final scenes in the film were extraordinarily difficult to perform, both physically and emotionally.
“It was two weeks of being in that state of paralysis to shoot the scene,” he told SYFY WIRE. “I'm attached and invested in the character, and there's a lot of tight shots on me struggling with breathing and struggling with everything. It was incredibly constrictive, which is uncomfortable.”
In the film, Christian is already distracted by a young Swedish woman who wishes to mate with him before he imbibes a liquid that makes him susceptible to her request. Afterward, the citizens of this small community incapacitate him in a wheelchair and finally sew him into the body of a grizzly bear to be sacrificed to their god. Suffice it to say, it was a challenge to go through each physical stage of what would be Christian’s death, but Reynor said that the emotional atmosphere was palpable during those scenes.
“There's this general tone that something awful is going to happen to you,” Reynor said. “There are these moments of connection with [co-star Florence Pugh] where you're watching somebody you've been in a relationship with who's going insane, and you're regretful, and you're acknowledging your lack of being able to be the person that they need you to be — right before you die horrifically ... So, yeah, it was two intense weeks.”
Being a victim in a horror movie forces actors to dance on a narrow edge where the audience has to care about their character but also accept (or at least understand) the inevitability of what’s to come. Reynor said that it was important to humanize the character, but he knew that they would expect and perhaps even want for him to be killed by the time his turn came to die. “Whether or not his fate itself is justified, you've got to justify getting to that place. And he's not a good guy. There's a lot of scenes where he's very callous with Dani and he's just not engaged with her at all, and he's ignorant.
“All of that stuff goes towards getting us to this place where ultimately we reach a gray area because everybody else has disappeared,” he observed. “He’s given this drug to take, and at that point, this awful trip starts where he's led by these hostile people to this terrible and really humiliating fate.”
That said, of course, Reynor admitted that bringing that to life, even when he was merely sitting immobile on screen, was a challenge that took a lot of work to rebound from when filming finished each day. “This film was an exercise in the practicing of just really good mental health and separating myself from the film when I was done at the end of the day — going to the gym, making sure I ran at least five kilometers, cooking for myself, reading literature that had nothing to do with the film.
“Being in the wheelchair and just feeling completely helpless was a lot,” he said. “It was a very difficult shoot.”
Midsommar is now in theaters.