Antichrist - A Review [Caution, contains spoilers]
Okay, let me first make one thing clear. This is not the kind of film I would have chosen to go and see. I went because I had free tickets.
It proudly advertises itself as "the most controversial film of the year", and has a warning for "real sex, violence and self-mutilation", and in that sense it doesn't disappoint. However, my experience with controversial films is that they usually try too hard to be shocking, and lose out as a result. (See Bruno for evidence of this; true the film was quite good, but the focus on controversy made it, in my opinion, nowhere near as good as Borat)
My main problem with Antichrist, is that it doesn't know what it wants to be. It has a black-and-white "prologue" (it's classification, not mine), which seems to be a combination of artsy and pornographic. The operatic music seems to be intended to give a feel of art-for-art's-sake, whereas the only real purpose I can see for the graphic sex scene it accompanies is to shock, and to set up the running theme of fairly explicit sex throughout the film. This, naturally, is cut with scenes of the couple's child.
Here is where the problems begin, but by no means where they end. The plot is simplistic enough- grieving couple trying to get over the death of their son go to remote cabin in the woods to attempt to do so. Or do they? At some point prior to them actually leaving, the script writer seems to have decided that actually what's happening is that the wife has some sort of grass phobia (I wish I was kidding), and that's why they go to the cabin. He failed to rectify the earlier portions of the script however, so what we are left with is a chimera of far less impressive proportions than the Greek version- think half-pig half-donkey, rather than half-lion half-eagle.
So the plot falls and breaks it's neck at the first hurdle. Only to carry stumblingly on, to repeat the feat at each following one. For example, the bizarre and nonsensicle introduction of witchcraft, the sudden violent deathmatch, and the talking fox! I read somewhere that the director wrote it whilst grappling with mental illness, and whilst not meaning to be offensive to anyone, it definitely shows. It doesn't make the slightest bit of sense, and any time you think you might have it figured, it slaps you around the face with more nonsense. And it keeps trying to build up an atmosphere of horror and fearful anticipation, and doesn't do a bad job in places. It's just that it doesn't go anywhere. There are no climactic moments (except the few bits of extreme gore-for-no-better-reason-than-it-can), and the atmosphere is left to fizzle out. In fact, even the gore seems to come out of nowhere most of the time, without even any atmosphere to support it. At least the Saw films set good atmosphere for their unnecessary gore-fests.
Then there's the sex. Okay, sex as a coping mechanism for grief I can kind of get. But as has already been mentioned, the whole grief aspect is almost completely abandoned by the time they get to the cabin, so that line of reasoning doesn't really work. Instead what we have is more attempts to be "shocking", by having the two lead (and really, the only) characters bone each other whenever the audience starts to get bored (or figure out an iota of what's going on).
It was confused. It was messy. It wasn't entertaining, and even the shock-factor didn't liven it up. It didn't know what it wanted to be, so tried to be everything and failed. It could have worked well as a gritty and realistic portrayal of a parent's grief at the loss of a child. Or it could have worked as a supernatural horror about witchcraft. (I'm not going to say it could have worked as a film about a woman afraid of grass, because that part was frankly just horse****). Maybe it would work as a misogynism propaganda film, I don't know since that part disgusted me more than the gore- but hey, if you hate women maybe it's for you.
There are no doubt people who will love this film. People who will say it is artistic, pushes the boundaries, and that it is brilliant. But my general principle is that I should not leave a film knowing less about what it's about than when I arrived. I think I said to Ashleigh when we left that I wanted an explanation and a personal apology from the director, but on second thought I just want to go to bed. This **** made as much sense as an acid trip, and left me with a headache to match.
(In case anyone is in any doubt, I don't recommend this film to anyone but the misogynists, over-the-top gore fans, and pretentious "art"-loving morons amongst you)
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