Antichrist

This is a horror film in the sense that humans and our nature allow us to do some horrific things, it’s not scary but it will haunt your thoughts. After the death of their child during a breathtaking opening prologue, shot in ultra-slow motion black and white to the sound of Handel, He (Dafoe) and She (Gainsbourg) retreat to a cabin in the woods to treat her crippling grief. He, a therapist, begins to see her as a patient rather than his wife and as she spirals further down he becomes more emotionally detached. Cut scenes of woods (here a metaphor for fear), with distorted camera work and hellish noises make the film reminiscent of scenes from ‘Evil Dead’, the cabin, the moving trees and the fog but the real comparison is to that of ‘The Shinning’ with its isolation and deteriorating mental health. Loaded with symbolism, mythology, graphic sex and bloody violence it is not an easy watch at times but it is so well shot that ultimately you forget all that and just see how beautiful it is. There are a few twists to the story which is so layered you could spend ages analysing it and some amazing touches to unnerve you throughout like the acorns that constantly hit the cabins tin roof. But it’s the two central performances that really make it, both look so emotionally draining to the viewer that god knows what it must have been like for the pair of them filming it and its this intensity that carries the film through its four chapters ‘Grief, Pain (chaos reigns), Despair (Gynocide) and ‘The three beggars’. The film is like going the wrong way down the rabbit hole, as it unravels so do you, as a viewer you are teased with symbolism and metaphors, punched with real sex and violence and challenged mentally as you try to seek answers in the visceral journey. Lars Von Trier never one to shy away from confronting the audience (I still can’t watch ‘Dancer in the Dark’ after it broke me the first time) again puts images on the screen that some may not feel comfortable with, but they need to be there to create the whole emotional package. Bold, baffling and slightly disturbing ‘Antichrist’ was made during a period where Von Trier was dealing with his own depression and this reflects in the end result. Ministry have an album called ‘The mind is a terrible thing to taste’ and sitting at Von Trier’s table one does eventually become full up.

 

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