You couldn’t really call Midsommar (out July 3) a horror-comedy — and there are many people who will find nothing funny about Hereditary writer-director Ari Aster’s new fright film. But when EW recently attended a preview screening, the movie’s moments of pitch-black comedy inspired laughs aplenty from the audience. Midsommar star Jack Reynor places some of the responsibility for that at the door of British writer-director-actor and all-around satirist Chris Morris. Morris was the driving force behind several U.K. comedy shows, including Jam, the notorious-in-Britain Brass Eye, and Nathan Barley, an ever more relevant takedown of our ephemera-obsessed digital age which he co-wrote with future Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker. Morris also directed 2010’s Riz Ahmed-starring suicide bomber-comedy Four Lions and the upcoming The Day Shall Come, although many American fans of British comedy may best know him for the playing a corporate executive in Graham Linehan’s sitcom The IT Crowd.
“A lot of people talk about the humorous elements of the film, and Ari and I are really big fans of Chris Morris,” says Reynor. “I think some of that culture of gallows humor informs what’s going on in the project. And similarly to Chris Morris’ stuff, particularly with Jam, as an audience, you’re sitting there and it’s a challenge. It’s like, you’re being asked, ‘Is this funny?’ ‘Is this funny?’ ‘Is this funny?’ ‘Is this funny?’ ‘Is this funny?’ I sat down the other night to watch part of the film with the audience and it was interesting to watch half of the people burst out laughing and the other half go, ‘What the f— are these people laughing at?'”
“Chris Morris is at the top of my list of people to work with,” continues the Irish actor. “I’d give anything.”
Midsommar stars Reynor and Florence Pugh as an American couple, Christian and Dani, who embark on a trip to Scandinavia with friends Mark (Will Poulter), Josh (William Jackson Harper), and Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), the latter of whom has invited them to visit his remote village in Sweden. “They’re a really weird, culty kind of commune,” Reynor told EW earlier this year. “Everybody’s all dressed in white, they have strange kinds of social cliques.”
Above, watch a clip of Morris playing his news anchor character on The Day Today, a show he co-created with Veep executive producer Armando Iannucci.
- Midsommar cast sat in stunned silence after first viewing of horror film
- Hereditary director teases ‘horrors’ of new film Midsommar
- Jordan Peele talks Midsommar with director Ari Aster in new Fangoria
- Midsommar actors had to walk through woods as part of unusual audition process