Friday, August 26, 2011

Antichrist (2009) - 4/5

Far be it for me to run away from a controversial film, even if it induces the extreme reactions that "Antichrist" has. Perhaps I should have, now that I think back about my time with this arthouse/exploitation film. Wowza. What a ride. From its black and white slow motion prologue and very explicit sex scene to its final symbolic moments, "Antichrist" is a film of unbelievably brilliant execution but one that pushes its artfulness to such a nonsensical brink that the true emotional trip is lost in its extremity. Not to mention a film that has shown me a lot of images I have never wanted to see, nor see again.

When a couple, known as He (Dafoe) and She (Gainsbourg), lose their child in a tragic incident, they decide to go out to a cabin in the woods known as Eden to work through their grief. Once there, He begins to have odd visions and She becomes violently sexual towards him and things begin to unwind in ways of unexpected nature as the two spiral into a nightmare of their own making.

It truly is hard to place into words many of the feelings I have about "Antichrist". Is it a symbolic arthouse film exploring the dark side of human nature? Absolutely. Is is an exploitation film? Also yes. It's a very unique blend of a standard psychological horror film and artistic film that builds itself on a simple premise with loads of atmosphere and fucked up visuals. The execution on screen of this film is infallible. Lars Von Trier builds the film with plenty of artistic choices, with long moments of silence, color schemes, pacing, and setting choices. The fog in the forest is creepy as hell and his odd build of the characters and their relationship is intense. Along with absolutely stunning acting from both our leads, this film rocks the character study mood it has and blends it with its creepy, dark atmosphere perfectly.

One of the biggest issues that "Antichrist" battles with, particularly with the latter half, is that the symbolism can be a bit much. There is nothing wrong with the symbolism in the film and when it works, the revelation of the Three Beggars for example, its spot on. Adding a flair to the film that drives home those artistic moments. Not all of the symbolism works. The key about symbolism is that if no one gets it, then its pointless. Many moments in "Antichrist" are obviously symbolic of something, but its meaning is lost in some of its more extreme moments (and there are VERY extreme moments that I for one would never like to see again). When the fox looks at He after eating itself and says "Chao Reigns" was lost on me. Couldn't get over the visual to see what was underneath.

"Antichrist" is a film that should be seen by anyone claiming to be a cult film fanatic. Expect extremes with it, both in silence and atmosphere and physical violence, but experience the film for what it is and let it sit with you rather than thinking too much about it as it plays out. Think about it later, after the visual feast has ended and the shock of some of its final sequences fades. That's when the film is best.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

1 comment:

  1. You'll have to check out Von Trier's upcoming flick "Melancholia." Should turn out to be another sensory overload. Plus it has Kiefer Sutherland.