Antichrist (2009) - **
I wasn’t familar with the work of Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier before watching Antichrist. Apparently he and a number of other filmmakers have taken on a dogma, avant garde style called ‘Dogme 95’. Antichrist seems to fall into that category and after having watched it, I have no interest in seeing any more Dogme 95 films.
Told in four chapters with an epilouge and a prolouge, a man (Willem Dafoe) and woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) are having sex when their young child Nick climbs out from his crib and falls out a window to his death. Overcome with grief the couple retreat to the woods where the man (who is a therapist) is hopeful he can help his spouse get over her depression and fears. A number of strange things start happening though, including ticks on the man’s arm and the woman constantly needing sex from the man, culminating with the man finding a fox disembowling itself and turning to him and saying “Chaos reigns”. The rest of the film is a bloody, physical battle between the man and woman as it becomes clear that there is something very wrong with her. The mutilate each other sexually and in the end, only one is walking out alive.
Antichrist sets up a really interesting story with a beautiful opening scene (although even that features a hardcore shot of penetration) of a couple retreating to the woods after the death of a child and then pisses it all away with gross-out horror scenes. And I feel like I can sit through almost anything, I even made a point of watching Cannibal Holocaust even though I never want to do that again. But Antichrist, featuring graphic scenes where a the man’s penis is stimulated to climax blood and the woman’s clitoris is cut off is far, far too much for me and my psyche. I give Dafoe and Gainsbourgh a lot of credit for giving the film a shot but neither should include any part of it on their all-time career reels.
Many have tried to determine what Von Trier is suggesting in the subtext of the film but to me it’s pretty clear he’s simply trying to shock the audience as no resolution or explanation is hinted at in any meaningful way. Antichrist is technically profecient enough to recieve two stars from me, but I can’t actually recommend this film.