Ari Aster’s 2011 Short ‘There’s Something Strange About the Johnsons’ is One Messed-Up Movie

Julien Neaves, Editor

Few modern horror films have been as divisive and generated so much discussion as Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019). It’s been two years since the last film came out and it is still a popular conversation topic on Facebook horror groups.

Both films were brought to audiences by the demented mind of Ari Aster. So when I read he had written and directed a short film back in 2011 I was curious to check it out on YouTube. And, having seen his two feature-length efforts, I should not have been surprised that The Strange Thing About the Johnsons is one of the most messed-up movies I have ever seen.

What a lovely family

The film is about the titular family which has a dark, deeply disturbing and deadly secret. I’m not going to spoil it here but to describe this family as “dysfunctional” is like calling Hannibal Lecter’s culinary habits “peculiar”.

And, unlike the above-mentioned films, there are no creepy cults or supernatural influences here. The horror and the evil is very much human, and that kind of makes it even worse.

Like father, like son

Aster’s talent for building tension and delivering on scenes of shocking horror is on full display here, if not as fine-tuned as his later features. But The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, like Hereditary and Midsommar, is the kind of visceral film that will unsettle you while watching and stay rattling around in your brain long after. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Editor Jules’s Score: 7.5 out of 10

For Horror Head Writer Sommer’s take on Ari Aster you can check out her Top 5 Modern Horror Directors list by clicking here. Or for more on Hereditary you can check out her list of the Top 10 Horror Movies of the Decade by clicking here.

B0FC059B-BBEE-47CF-90E4-D588C1BACD93 Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. I can also be found posting about TV and movie memes, news and trailers on Facebook at Movieville. And to stay on top of all Redmangoreviews articles you can like and follow us on Facebook here.

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