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Ari Aster was showcasing his talent and wowing audiences long before “Hereditary” and “Midsommar” with his remarkable short films.

Ari Aster The Strange Thing About the Johnsons

The Strange Thing About the Johnsons


Years before his startling feature film debut that instantly made Ari Aster an indie horror darling, Hereditary (2018), Aster was showcasing his tremendous talent via his work in short form. From 2011, he was already demonstrating an uncanny ability to ability to shock, horrify, and devastate by exploring psychological trauma in profound ways. Carolyn dissects two of Aster’s unforgettable short films, The Strange Thing About the Johnsons and Munchausen. – Stephanie (Editor-in-Chief)


And you thought MIDSOMMAR and HEREDITARY were Ari Arister’s best? Call me after you watch these two. See where the man, the myth, the legend got started scaring the daylights out of the world.

Aster’s debut film was the short film Tale of Two Tims, which he wrote at the College of Santa Fe and submitted to the American Film Institute. This garnered him a fellowship into the graduate directing program at the AFI Conservatory. He followed up with several AFI cycle films before his breakout short film The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, about a suburban family in which the son is involved in an abusive incestuous relationship with his father.

This brilliant exploration of taboos and disturbing family dynamics served as Aster’s thesis film at AFI’s graduate school in California. It was later screened at numerous film festivals before being leaked online and going viral.

Ari Aster Munchausen


Between 2011 and 2018, Aster wrote and directed five more short films, including 2013’s Munchausen, a silent short horror film about a boy who goes off to college and his overprotective mother who goes to great lengths to keep him from leaving her.

After making The Strange Thing About the Johnsons and Beau in 2011, writer-director Aster and producer Alejandro De Leon were inspired by the films of Pixar, especially the poignant opening montage of Up.

The duo launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to make the short, which premiered at Fantastic Fest in 2013 before being released through Vice Shots in 2015.

As always, this episode offers a deep dive into films with plot-by-plot analysis. So, be sure to watch these two amazing shorts first to avoid spoilers. You can find them both for free on YouTube. Watch The Strange Thing About the Johnsons here and watch Munchausen here


The Final Girl on 6th Ave is a weekly show where host, Carolyn Smith-Hillmer, dissects an arthouse/elevated horror film. Each episode includes a detailed play-by-play of the film itself and a subsequent deep dive into the thematic elements and symbolism. Because elevated horror is sometimes viewed within the horror community as pretentious, Carolyn makes sure to use her down-to-earth tone and unique perspective to make these films less intimidating for the casual horror viewer and less ostentatious for the genre lover.

Listen to more episodes on the show’s website here

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