Yes, it is as effed up as you have probably heard.
A grieving couple (Dafoe & Gainsbourg) retreat to ‘Eden’, their isolated cabin in the woods, where they hope to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.
I’m not really that in tack with a lot of Lars von Trier films but I have to say that I’ve only heard of how messed up this dude’s films can be. Sadly, messed up doesn’t really make your film good.
Trier isn’t the kind of guy that wants to make you sit back, sip a cold one, and enjoy yourself, no, he’s more about pushing the envelope, pushing all sorts of crazy shit in your face, and making sure you never forget what you see. Even though I knew what kind of shock value to expect, I still was completely taken aback by all of the crazy shit I saw and it will definitely stick in my mind.
When it comes to horror films, not many go to the extremes that this one has, and that isn’t such a bad thing but then again, not many horror films seem very original or distinct if they don’t try to shock you at all. The crap that happens here is definitely disgusting, and very in-your-face, which makes it not for everyone but I can say that when it comes to horror, that’s what you want. You want a horror film that will last with you for days by how damn creepy and disturbing it was, not how enjoyable it was. This is definitely one of the rare horror films that comes out and has the balls to go that extra mile to keep people hurling as if they just got off the Kingda Ka.
However, all of the crazy shit I’m talking about doesn’t really happen until the last hour of the film, whereas before that, I couldn’t tell you what even happened by how lame it was. The film starts off incredibly slow with nothing really happening that stayed in my mind, other than these two bangin’ a lot and that’s what really kept me checking the time to see how long till I had to finally see some crazy ish happening. Thankfully the last hour goes incredibly mad, but this first hour bored the hell out of me.
When it comes to being an effective horror film: it works. But when it comes to being a commentary on grief and loss: I couldn’t really see the connection. During the last hour, when everything goes bat-shit, whatever Trier was trying to get to me about loss and grief of a little child, was completely forgotten about and more of just there to provide some back-story for the jaw-dropping sequences. Most films can get there point to me right away, but I think Trier lost his way just a bit or was trying really hard to shock and enlighten, which it seems like is something he can’t have at the same time. Sorry my little Hitler-supporter.
The creepy visuals are here, the writing is pretty good, but it’s really the acting that brought this film to it’s main strength. Willem Dafoe is practically playing Willem Dafoe but is still pretty good as the daddy, which was a given but the real spot-light here goes to Charlotte Gainsbourg as the wife. I don’t know how and why anything would ever let her accept this role after reading a script like this but she really was a great pick considering she puts all of her might into this and provides a lot of craziness and insanity for a character you just don’t know what she is going to do next. The Academy would never look at a film like this, but I could easily say she at least deserved a nomination of some sorts for giving all of her might into this one loopy character.
Consensus: There is certainly a lot here that will mess with your head, haunt you, and provide you plenty of jaw-dropping moments that will make you wanna puke, but overall, Antichrist works as a horror film that pushes the limits but can never really get what it’s trying to say across all of the craziness and the disturbing things that happen.
Nice review man. Personally I really enjoyed the film. Well… Enjoy is probably not the best choice of words but it was certainly unlike anything I’d seen before. Spot on with your opinion of Gainsbourg, she was very brave in tackling this role. I have a review of my own pending.
Agreed, Gainsbourg was great. I really want to see Melancholia now. Dan, no mention of the fox?
Sorry my man Steve!
I’ve only saw 2 Von Trier movies (Dogville and Melancholia) which I both liked. Don’t know whether this would be one I’d enjoy. Do you know how it compares?
I have not seen Dogville but compared to Melancholia, it’s a lot more weirder that’s for damn sure.
I’m sorry Von Trier minions…I do NOT like him! I have watched all of his films (I keep giving him a chance) and although I can appreciate what he is “trying” to say and some of the visual moments are cool and yes…unforgettable, I am usually bored by 75% of what I am watching and annoyed with the remaining 25%. There is a style for everyone–and Von Trier is just not my style. Great review!
You are very right about everything you’re saying. It’s just a style that many can’t really catch onto right away. Thanks!
Now you have me curious, I am a sucker for sick movies no one wants to watch even if they are bad. I hope not Uwe Boll bad. How does that guy keep making movies? Well its in my queue now so thanks for the review
No problemo! It’s an effed up flick but just don’t go off expecting too much.
I had no trouble with the first hour at all- the intensity and feeling of growing dread had me hooked from the first scene.
Breaking The Waves was great too (if you liked this one). Not a happy film either, but powerful none-the-less.
Breaking the Waves is great and definitely a lot better than this flick.
I don’t consider this to be a horror film but rather a psychological drama that explores grief and depression. For me, it was a very powerful film that is very uncompromising in the world of grief. That third act for me was just insane but it worked because of what Dafoe just exposed in Gainsbourg’s character. Her guilt is the reason for her insanity. It’s not an easy film to watch nor it’s the kind of film that many people will enjoy. It’s still what I believe to be one of the greatest films ever made because it was willing to provoke ideas and not be afraid to do so.
Wow man! You really liked this one. I’m sorry that I couldn’t share the same feelings but I will say that I liked it none the less.
This was almost unwatchable for me. Grotesque just for the sake of controversy with nothing substantial to tell. Great performance by the two principals but this was really dull, despite all the graphic imagery.
It was pretty dull other than Dafoe and Gainsbourg. Thanks Castor!
I remember watching the first 20 minutes of this and being so profoundly bored and disturbed that I just switched off. Your review has told me that I really didn’t miss too much.
Yeah you kind of didn’t but don’t just take my review for the final word. Still check it out Jaina!
This seems to be quite the love it or hate it type movie. I fall in the former group. It’s not an easy watch by any means, but I thought it was very well made, led by a crazy good performance by Gainsbourg.
It’s one of those flicks that either really gets you or just misses your head by a mile. Thanks Eric!
You are right, the film isn’t really commenting on grief and loss. Here is what it’s actually about:
First of all, Lars Von Trier not actually in support of Hitler. His actual comment is “I understand Hitler. I understand the man.” His comment was, unfortunately, not taken in the spirit it was meant. As much as we like to think that Hitler was a “monster,” he was actually just a human being. Human beings are capable of awful things. Von Trier was trying to point that out. Lurking somewhere in the visceral and intellectual assault that is Antichrist is this idea: in order to combat evil in the world, you have to recognize it (especially in yourself). Just because we don’t acknowledge it, doesn’t mean it will go away. In fact, it becomes more dangerous. It is only in owning up to our evil that we have any hope of fighting it. We can’t know how good we can be, until we know how awful we can be. And furthermore, we won’t take ourselves sufficiently seriously until we know we’re all weapons, and unstable loaded weapons.
Anyway, Antichrist is expressing similar concerns. As much as we’d like to dismis Charlotte Gainsbourg’s character as simply crazy, that’s not wise. She is a human being. She must be acknowledged. Even more frightening is: Willem Dafoe’s killing of her at the end is understandable! Not NICE, not RIGHT… but understandable. We are capable, Von Trier tells us, of just about any nasty thing you can imagine. And all it takes is the right set of circumstances to turn a civilized and rational person into a savage animal.