top of page
  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Ari Aster: Master of Modern Folk Horror and Unsettling Familial Disintegration

Featured Image For Ari Aster: Master of Modern Folk Horror and Unsettling Familial Disintegration.  Movie poster for Beau Is Afraid featuring four versions of Joaquin Phoenix at different ages, dressed in matching pajamas, with a sky backdrop.
Beau Is Afraid (2023): From the depths of his darkest fears, one man embarks on a surreal journey that blurs the line between nightmare and reality.

Ari Aster isn't interested in simple scares; his films are intricately layered rituals of psychological unraveling. With "Hereditary" and "Midsommar," he has redefined the possibilities of folk horror, weaving a tapestry of ancient fears and strikingly modern anxieties that linger in the mind long after the screen fades to black.

Dissecting the Architecture of Unease

Aster's mastery lies in his ability to induce unease rather than outright terror.  His camera lingers mercilessly on the macabre, forcing audiences to confront the raw emotions laid bare by trauma and the grotesque beauty of decay.  He understands that the brightest light can cast the darkest shadows, finding a unique sense of horror in sunny rituals and unsettling symbolism.

Movie poster for Hereditary featuring three faces blended together: a terrified woman, a screaming child, and a somber girl with the title below.
Hereditary (2018): Unearth the sinister secrets that bind a family to a legacy of horror. As the truth is revealed, darkness consumes all who uncover it.

Horrors Within the Home

Family units crumble under Aster's lens, becoming the breeding ground for unimaginable terrors. "Hereditary" is a haunting portrayal of grief's destructive power, a meditation on how our deepest wounds can be inflicted by those closest to us. In "Midsommar," the protagonist's isolation is compounded by the hollowness of her relationship, the picturesque yet deadly cult offering a twisted substitute for emotional connection.

Folk Horror Reimagined: Terrors Ancient and Modern

Aster reinvents the folk horror trope. His work draws on pagan traditions, isolated communities, and ritualistic practices, but roots them firmly in contemporary anxieties. The cults at the heart of his films aren't mere throwbacks to a primitive past; they embody a seductive, if destructive, escape from the emptiness of modern existence.

Movie poster for Midsommar featuring a couple walking through a vibrant field of flowers towards a group of people in white robes, with a maypole in the background.
Midsommar (2019): Amidst the beauty of endless summer days lies a dark ritual. When tradition turns to terror, escape is as elusive as the midnight sun.

The Aster Touch: Disturbing Beauty

Ari Aster films are meticulously designed experiences. His visuals are laden with symbolism, his use of saturated colors and unsettling symmetry amplifying the twisted reality of his worlds. Sound design becomes a horror tool in its own right, with guttural sounds and discordant chants heightening the sense of relentless disquiet.

Legacy: A New Voice in Elevated Horror

Ari Aster is a singular voice in contemporary horror. His films are celebrated for their artistic ambition, psychological depth, and an uncompromising commitment to disquieting his audience on multiple levels.  His work serves as a terrifying reminder: sometimes the most disturbing monsters aren't lurking in the shadows, but in the fractured families, corrupted traditions, and the hidden darkness of our own hearts.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page