From the get-go, ‘June,’ the 2015 fantasy horror film, immerses the viewers into the concentrated cultish world that covertly surrounds the protagonists. Orphaned by cult-worshipping parents who are devotees of the elemental deity Aer, June faces a brutal time in the foster system, plagued by her “imaginary friend,” Aer, and the latter’s destructive behavior. Thus, at nine, the girl’s new adoptive parents, Lily and Dave, face a dark uncertainty once their daughter’s moods begin to bring inexplicable havoc in their lives.
Yet, despite the harm that June is capable of, her DCF Agent, Emmanuel, and his fellow members of Aer’s cult pose a bigger threat. Although the film’s central supernatural elements, the primary source of horror, fixes its narrative into an outlandish fictional world, the existence of Aer’s devoted and dangerous cult may lead the viewers to wonder if the film has a basis in real life. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Aer’s Cult is Possibly a Fictional Metaphor for Cultish Environmentalism
No, ‘June’ is not based on a true story. Similarly, its central plot device, Aer, the supernatural entity possessing the film’s nine-year-old titular character, does not have an origin in reality. Although it is common for horror movies to equip ancient mythology or religion to fabricate its religious, supernaturally-driven cults, ‘June’ seems to divert from this practice and crafts Aer and her cult from scratch. As such, the film’s director/screenwriter, L. Gustavo Cooper, and his co-writer, Sharon Y. Cobb, can be credited for the film’s complete inception.
In real life, Aer is commonly known as a veil employed in religious practices within the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Alternatively, Aer (pronounced differently than ‘June’s’ Aer) is also a minor language spoken in Pakistan. Since the Aer entity depicted in the film has no evident relation to either Catholicism or linguistics, we can confidently conclude the real-life instances of Aer have no connection to the divine entity from the film.
Instead, the film’s Aer cult seems to have emerged from the word itself, which noticeably sounds like “air.” Aer’s cult believes that the entity will bring humankind’s comeuppance in an attempt to save nature and help it take over the planet. As such, everyone in the cult, from June’s parents to Emmanuel, is fighting to take Earth away from their fellow humans and return it to nature. This ideology falls into the idea that Aer is simply supposed to be an elemental deity with no grand origins, named after the environment she’s meant to empower.
Nevertheless, the idea of environmentalism falling into cultish practices isn’t something exclusive to the film’s fictional narrative. Famously, a 2009 opinion piece in The Guardian by Brendan O’Neill titled ‘Environmentalism: the new death cult?’ presents with the same concept. Comparing common practices and notions between environmentalism and religion, of sin, penance, deniers, and inevitable doom, O’Neill argues that the former has become “by far the most influential death cult in existence today.”
As such, whether intentional or not, ‘June’s’ creation of Aer and her doomsday culture remains reminiscent of the same idea. Ultimately, Aer, as a destructive elemental deity, has no basis in reality, and neither does her devoted cult. Therefore, its inclusion in the film’s fictional storyline is another aspect of the film’s fictionality.