Sooooo, Antichrist then.
First things first, I liked it. Incredible cinematography, startling imagery and powerful performances.
However, get past the art-house trappings and watch it as a particularly gruesome but high-end video nasty, and you’ll find it a more rewarding experience than if you were trying to look for the profound despite its pretentions. The dialogue and themes explored (of man versus woman, mankind versus nature) are hardly original and the Biblical references clunky, but wouldn’t feel as such in a more conventional ‘terror picture’. There are elements of The Evil Dead, The Shining and a whole bunch of weirdy horror classics – though some of the more extreme moments are more reminscient of assorted works by Eli Roth and Takashi Miike – but there are still plenty of things in Antichrist I never thought I’d see in a film (and a few I wouldn’t really choose to see again) though it clearly announces its intentions with a slo-mo penetration shot about half a minute in.
Is it mysoginistic? Peeeeerrrobably…when the whole film rests on one man and one woman and that one woman makes grand sweeping claims blaming all evil on womankind, it’s not easy arguing otherwise. But I’d say that Antichrist, being that it is steeped in horror lore, is simply honouring the grand tradition of the female being the vessel for the supernatural (and furthermore, tying in with the Mother Nature concept) and just taking it to its natural extreme. But by being so extreme, it does veer dangerously close to (and occassionally tips over into) downright silliness; some of it is so unbelievably shocking, nervous giggles ensued. I did spend the credits laughing out loud with the two friends I saw it with because when faced with a pretty unpleasant situation, you can’t take it seriously lest you become a gargantuan sourpuss.
Chances are you won’t know if you wanted to watch it or not until after seeing it, but likewise, if you’re contemplating seeing it, I think you already know what you’re letting yourself in for. I would say the ‘graphic violence’ is by no means as bad as I thought it would be, but I’m a sick puppy, so don’t take that as me giving you the all clear. And it’s moral standpoint is dubious at best. But there’s definitely something unshakeably fascinating about Antichrist, be it the film itself, that Lars von Trier actually decided to make it in the first place, or just its very existence. The world is not a better place because of Antichrist, but nor has it brought about armageddon.