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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Movie Review: Antichrist (2009)


You know, for as long as I care to remember, I’ve always thought that the deadly sin I’m the most susceptible to was Lust. Lately though, I’m starting to think that it may be Sloth. I’ve been meaning to write this review for close to two months and I’ve put off doing it more times than I care to count. Luckily, my memory of it is still crystal clear because Antichrist is definitely something I will ever forget. Thank you, Lars Von Trier.

Antichrist is a movie—of that I can very much be certain of. It has moving pictures, people who are playing fictional characters, and a story. At least, I believe that what was told was a story. Given that this is one of those fancy “arthouse” movies, the story is very much up for interpretation, so the idea of a straightforward narrative is something that you won’t be receiving when watching the movie. More on this later though. For now, let’s discuss the story.

Or at least, what little story there is.

Antichrist centers a couple whose child falls out of a window and dies. You see, while they were busy having sex, the baby got out of its crib and went over to the open window and went kerplunk. Too dark? Don’t worry, it’s nothing compared to the movie.

Anyways, after this traumatic experience, the couple opt to go on a vacation to a cabin. It’s here where the movie begins to enter the realm of psychological horror and gets very weird. There’s a lot of nudity, sexual imagery, and bizarre happenings that make you question exactly what’s going on. It’s magnificently strange, but also rather silly. At times, I found myself laughing at some of the oddness because it felt like the film was trying way too hard to be shocking. This includes some of the most disgusting scenes, which I’m almost certain are meant to be horrifying. Alas, it felt like whatever Lars was aiming for didn’t land properly and instead came across as silly.

With that said, I can’t say the movie is exactly bad. Quite the opposite. I liked how chaotic it got; a lot of the madness and shocking imagery is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. While yes, I did laugh at how silly it got, the images themselves are still shocking in their own right (I won’t spoil it, but if you’re at all easily grossed out, this movie will have you running to the bathroom to vomit).

With that having been addressed, I want to loop back to the narrative. This movie is one where it feels like very little happens—at least once the characters have reached the cabin. Once that happens, the movie relies mostly on metaphors in the form of animals and actions to do the talking. Because of this: if you can tolerate gross imagery, but loathe movies that don’t have traditional storytelling, Antichrist will make your head spin. For me personally, it wasn’t a problem. Though I figured I should at least bring it up.

Moving on, I personally loved the performances. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg are amazing as He and She respectively (yes, that’s their official character names—I don’t believe they’re ever explicitly referred to by either name though). Their onscreen chemistry is fantastic and it makes the deterioration of their relationship all the more captivating. However, I think that I could have gone without seeing Dafoe’s penis. Of every image, I think that was the one to traumatize me the most. You know, I’m something of an arthouse fan myself, but I’m not fond of nude scenes. Well, guess this was the wrong film for me since Gainsbourg spends a large portion of it buttnaked.

The other thing I would like to praise is the cinematography. It’s very good. There’s always a stark contrast of beauty and eeriness within most shots. So, that I must give props to. Seriously, there’s little else to say here. Sorry if you were expecting thirty sentences of gushing.

Now for the final thing: the overall meaning of the film. Some have taken the film to be an allegory for grief. Others have taken it as sexual intercourse being a bad thing. Then there are some who believe it to be an anti-woman movie; a misogynistic piece of arthouse cinema. I personally can see the first and third the most, though I think that the great thing about films like Antichrist is that everyone can extrapolate a different meaning from it. With that said, I feel that it’s very blatantly obvious that the film has something very heavy to tell and if you don’t movies that hit you over the head with meaning and would prefer something a lot simpler, then (as stated a few time already): Antichrist is going to make you miserable.

Overall: Antichrist is a good movie, but it’s definitely not for everyone. It definitely misses the mark on its shocking imagery—and at times goes so far with it that it enters the realm of parody. Whether it’s with masturbation, genital mutilation, or an animal giving birth, there’s a lot about this film that’s simply too extreme to be shocking, but too gross to not warrant an extreme warning. So because of that, I must nix some points, though the amazing performances alone are worth giving it a look—if you can stomach it.

Final Score: 3.5/5

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