Written and directed by Lars von Trier
Congratulations, Antichrist, you’ve delivered a horror film that bothered me on several levels. Antichrist is a 2009 art-house film by the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest director”, Lars von Trier. I don’t know how this controversial film made it under my radar, but I’m glad a friend suggested it. I won’t reveal everything in this review – this is a movie you’ll want to see with your own eyes. I hope you can make it to the end. I admit that there was a time or two I wanted to turn this film off. Not because it was bad in any way, but because there is a sexually raw and violent theme that goes hand and hand with the film.
William Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, known only as “he” and “she”, retreat back to a cabin in the woods after the devastating loss of their son. Dafoe plays a therapist in the film and sets up a series of exercises for his wife to deal with her crippling grief and anxiety.
This film has a lot going on. This is a horror film about loss, human nature, and relationships with a heaping bowl of the supernatural served on the side. You’ll most likely rewind or question what you’re seeing. The longer the couple stay at their Eden cabin, the more insane the film becomes. Gainsbourg seems to make a lot of progress at times, that is until she completely becomes unhinged. From there on out you’ll have some graphically disturbing images to process. The nature scenes almost hit below the belt. I’m an animal lover and things like this always bother me. I shed a tear when the dog in I Am Legend died, this is something altogether worse. *shudder*
Each scene of Antichrist is a testament to effective film-making. The growing tension between doctor and patient, man and woman, father and mother, and husband and wife made me cringe repeatedly. At one point the cabin’s tin roof is assaulted by falling acorns from the massive oak tree that sprawls over top, and this alone is filmed in such a way as to make the watcher nervous. If that seems mundane or common, then give it time because there are way worse things to come.
This film contains a graphic ejaculation scene that no man will ever want to experience. Dafoe’s character has a hole drilled into his leg so his wife can attached a huge millstone to it Maybe the scene where the sexually self-loathing Gainsbourg spreads her legs and slowly opens a pair of scissors over her labia will get your attention. It did mine. I honestly cringed during this movie and found myself wanting some of the more intense scenes to just end. That’s a weird feeling for me.
Draw your conclusion as to what Antichrist is really about. I don’t believe that this film is anything other than a horror film. It’s job is to terrify you and make you think – something it easily achieved with me. I don’t think Antichrist is misogynistic. The horror medium offers writers the chance to step outside normal parameters and travel to darker places. Some things that happen in horror can be perceived as offensive, personal, over-the-top, even perverse, but have the freedom to deliver such things simply because it’s a horror movie.
This film is sexually raw and violent. It left me feeling uncomfortable for many reasons. I’m sure more viewers will attempt to watch this and fail. Many other other fans will set through it shocked and repulsed, but unable to turn away. Horror fans have to see this film even if they have to white knuckle through some scenes. Dafoe and Gainsbourg are both phenomenal. You can feel her pain from the opening scenes. This will be hard to get out of your head, but you’ll be glad you experienced it nonetheless.