Review Joe Johnson
ANTICHRIST, directed by Lars Von Treir, never made it to the big screen, at least at my local multiplex, and with good reason! It is difficult film to watch and therefore does little to appeal to a mass audience. Having seen the trailer for this in 2009 I was immediately excited at the prospect of seeing what looked like a pretty grim horror, somewhat of an understatement I later found out. I waited patiently for the picture to debut but it never materialized. This only added to my anticipation when I found it nestling lonely on a shelf in my local Blockbuster months later as I assumed it had been deemed too scary for cinema audiences!
Scary is not really the right word to describe ANTICHRIST. Party poppers are scary when they make you jump, ANTICHRIST is downright disturbing. It follows just two unnamed characters, a husband and wife simply referred to in the film as ‘he’ and ‘she’, played by William Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg respectively. At the start of the film their son falls from his bedroom window to his death, neglected by his mother and father who are getting it on in a variety of locations around the house at the time.
The couple are understandably traumatized and, in seek of some respite, they take a vacation in a deserted cabin in the middle of a forest (personally I’d have choose a sunny beach with a cocktail bar but each to their own). While exploring the forest he and she both experience odd visions and rather than becoming closer and helping each other, they actually become alienated, when they’re not romping that is! The film is, visually, a work of art and some of the images associated with death and decay are truly disturbing. A talking fox does lighten the mood, even if its monologue to Defoe is somewhat ominous.
As the film proceeds the pair become increasingly mentally unstable and ‘she’ performs unspeakable acts of genital mutilation on both herself and her once loving husband while he sleeps. These scenes are incredibly graphic and all the more harrowing, as they lack the melodramatic pomp of Hollywood hits like HOSTEL, instead presenting them in stark, full frontal reality. All the while the scenes are played out against a juxtaposing cacophony of an opera soundtrack. Even if you are a die-hard horror fan this is a difficult watch, and I find hard to fathom gaining enjoyment from watching ANTICHRIST. As an artistic, sensory experience however it is unparalleled.