Cinepub


Review: Antichrist by Jamie

Warning: Spoilers Ahead.

Hmm, how do I start this review? Well, Antichrist is the 2009 horror film directed by Lars Von Trier. It stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. The majority of it takes place in the woods. Some of it is shot in black and white and some of it is shot in colour. Well, hope you enjoyed the review. Laterz.

No, I suppose I can think of a few more things to say. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Antichrist. It’s the controversial film that shocked audiences and reviewers alike, apparently. One reviewer was so shocked that he reviewed the film without even seeing the film! It’s true! An actual film ‘critic’ was actually paid by a ‘newspaper’ in the UK to review a film he hadn’t seen! You can read the pricks ‘incredibly valid opinion’ here. My god, what a cunt.

So I suppose we should address all this right up front. Does Antichrist deserve the controversy surrounding it? Well, yes and no. I say this because different people find different things controversial. I find neither graphic sex nor graphic violence to be that offensive because, at the end of the day, it’s just a goddamn film and I can separate reality from fiction because I’m a rational human being. That being said, there were two scenes in particular which I did find a little difficult to watch. One involves violence against the male sexual organ and the other involves self-inflicted violence against a certain part of female genitalia. Yeah, nice.

However, there are some people who do find depictions of graphic sex and violence to be offensive, so to those people I would say that yes, the film probably does deserve the controversy that you yourselves have likely generated for it. I suppose I can see the point of some of your concerns. Is it necessary to depict such things in films? Well, sometimes I would say that yes, yes it is. Sex and violence are intrinsic parts of the human experience, probably two of the biggest components of the human psyche. When we sink to our most base and instinctual level, when we loose track of rational thought entirely, it is generally because of these two extremes of our basic nature. Some films exist to be reflections of human nature and therefore it would be necessary to include these two elements. I think that makes sense. It seems to when I read it back but that could have been because I wrote it so I understand what I mean anyway.

I suppose there has also been some criticism that the film is misogynistic. I can kind of see where that criticism comes from and this film but really it just mirrors age old themes that have been part of human storytelling for thousands of years. I’m not saying it’s right but if every time a film that has something controversial to say is instantly branded as evil then we might as well stick to making shitty ‘The Land Before Time’ sequels. Besides, I feel that the misogynistic component of the film can largely be explained through the mutual insanity of the couple. I don’t think it’s inherent to either character.

Antichrist is very much a film about human nature. Specifically it’s about death, the reaction to it, sex, violence and insanity. It begins with a couple, Dafoe and Gainsbourg, fucking in slow motion while their child wanders from its room and out of an open window to it’s death. This child’s death is the catalyst for the events which follow. At the funeral Gainsborough collapses and is taken to hospital. She spends the next month slipping in and out of a coma-like state and loses perception of time. Her therapist husband, Dafoe, decides to take her home and get her off of her medication, forcing her to confront the mourning process whilst also enabling him to take her on as a kind of patient. It seems, at first, as though this is to help her but you also get the impression that he enjoys treating his wife in this way.

Gainsbourg reveals that the thing she fears the most is Eden, a wooded area where she had spent some time with her child the summer previously whilst she was writing her thesis in Gynocide, a word that I can’t help but find hilarious because I’m currently reading Lloyd Kaufman’s book ‘Direct Your Own Damn Movie’ throughout which he refers to ladies of the female persuasion as gynos. Dafoe decides that it would be best for her if she were to go to Eden and confront her fear. Straight away it seems as though the woods are trying to fuck with the couple. First of all Dafoe sees a deer with a dead baby deer… Wait a minute, what the fuck is a baby deer called? Shit, I can’t remember… I’ll just call it a deerling… So yeah, Dafoe sees a deer with a dead deerling hanging from it’s deergina. Later on the couple see a little birdling fall from a tree. This is serves, of course, to remind the couple of their own dead humanling and to further provoke their respective insanity. Dafoe also sees a fox that is eating itself which turns to him and screeches ‘Chaos Reigns!’ It is awesome.

You see, whilst Gainsbourg was in Eden before, her studies of Gynocide and specifically the witch trials of the past, had lead her to believe that there was some kind of inherent evil within women. As her psychosis and guilt over the death of her child builds within her, she begins to believe that she can perform some of the practices that the witches of old used to carry out. This leads her to the aforementioned acts of genitalia centric violence as well as bolting a grind-stone through his leg. Events continue to build, with wilder and wilder hallucinations on both their parts until the film reaches it’s conclusion. I’m gonna leave the plot synopsis there because I don’t want to give too much away as I’d like to leave people enough mystery so that they’d still want to see the film.

Of course, during that synopsis I mentioned that the events are caused by the couples growing insanity and that’s certainly one way to look at it. There is of course the alternative option which is to accept that all the things that they think they are seeing and all the powers Gainsborough believes she has are actually real. Which do I subscribe to? Well, despite my synopsis taking a definite point of view, I myself am not really sure. I think there are good cases to made for both and I haven’t really made up my mind yet. I suggest you watch it for yourself and make up your own mind.

So, how do I rate Antichrist as a film? Well, I’m certainly glad I watched it, if glad is the correct word to use in this situation. I don’t think it’s as dramatically shocking or offensive as people have made it out to be and it’s certainly shot and acted incredibly well. In fact one of the most disturbing things about the film is the number of close-ups you get of Willem Dafoe’s face. He is one creepy bastard and I think he can see my soul through the screen. There is one major problem that I had with the film though. It’s kind of slow. It takes some time to actually get to Eden and, whilst the earlier scenes serve to give some background to the plot, you can’t help but wonder if maybe they couldn’t have gotten to the cabin some time sooner. Overall, I give Antichrist 3 pints out of 5. Laterz.

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