In an interview with Vox, Aster explained how he didn’t see the Harga people as a cult … but as a “community” and a “family.” 

To them, they’re in sync with their traditions, the earth, and the changing seasons; they’re in touch with themselves and each other about their ceremonial practices. They don’t appear as dangerous … as Aster says, there’s “no mustache-twirling or arched eyebrows.” And they genuinely believe they’re doing the right thing.

Aster explained that his perception of the Harga community depended on where he was in the filmmaking process.

“… When I was working with the Swedish actors, it was very important to me that [the villagers, called the Harga] not be menacing. They’re not foreboding. There’s nothing foreboding about them. They love this world. They believe in what they’re doing. They’re absolutely fair. They love each other. They are just completely in touch with themselves and their lives and each other. That’s all it was with them.”