Summer may be coming to an end, but sommar is stretching out a little bit longer. Ari Aster’s latest nightmarish vision of interpersonal relationships, familial grief, and vacationing in far-off locales (cult activities not at all optional) opened earlier this summer, but it’s already queued up a beefier (and unrated) director’s cut, now set for a surprise theatrical release this weekend.
The new cut includes both “new scenes and extended footage” and will be available in theaters nationwide this Friday. Aster’s original cut was released in early July with an ambitious 147-minute running time, but Aster had always wanted more of his “Hereditary” followup. After trimming (and trimming… and trimming…) his four-hour assembly cut, Aster was pleased with the theatrical release version, but he always hoped for some more of those blessed minutes.
He’s got it, and then some. The new director’s cut clocks in at 171 minutes, a “not reasonable” version (Aster’s own words) now set to be just that: released, care of distributor A24. Aster’s second feature film follows the grief-stricken Dani (Florence Pugh) as she sets out on a summertime respite to the Swedish commune of Hårga alongside her weak-willed boyfriend (Jack Reynor) and a pack of his friends who aren’t so happy to have her tagging along.
Hårga, of course, is not exactly what it appears to be (for one thing, there’s more death-centric rituals than anyone could reasonably expect from an idyllic, flower-strewn community), but neither is Dani. What follows is a wild, rich, and mind-bending exploration of rituals, routines, and what happens when the five stages of grief are shoved into a new environment.
Earlier this month, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich checked out the director’s cut during a special New York City screening, and found it to be a better and richer experience. He wrote that the new version “isn’t a radically different movie, but it’s a much richer one; some of the added moments are less vital than others, but all of them help to create a more textured experience, and — perhaps most importantly — give you the time required to fall even deeper under its harsh psychedelic spell.”
That includes some key additions to the film’s heart-stopping finale. Of that portion, Ehrlich wrote, “Aster has said that he wanted the finale to be ‘exciting and kind of crowd-pleasing… and also something complicated that you’d have to contend with.’ Here, that bittersweet aftertaste hits you sooner, and with a bigger shock of flavor.”