Antichrist (2009)

Antichrist (2009) – So Lars von Trier of Dancer in the Dark and Dogville fame set out to make a horror movie. From his résumé it should be obvious that a standard jump-out-and-scare-you thriller was not in the cards. Instead von Trier wants to scare you in your soul. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play an unnamed married couple who have lost their son. He fell out of a window while they were (very graphically) fucking in the other room. This obviously fucks them up quite a bit, her more than him. In fact she exhibits a lot of signs of severe depression. However he is a therapist and decides he can treat her, despite that being against virtually every code of professional ethics in the psychiatric profession. They retreat to their cabin in the woods and that’s when shit gets weird. Really weird. Intensely disturbing. I’m betting that Lars von Trier is not an outdoorsman. His depiction of nature is as a malevolent force. It’s worth noting that the film is very graphic in both the opening sex scene and in some of the later violent scenes (in which awful things are done to parts of the body only meant to be treated nicely).

Is there a larger moral to this story (chaos reigns?) or is it just meant to freak the viewer right the fuck out? If the latter, it accomplishes its goal with enthusiasm. Von Treier’s usually handheld style is present but some shots are very stylized and absolutely gorgeous in their composition. Others will haunt my nightmares for untold years to come. Dafoe is a creepy-looking guy and that contributes a bit to the discomfort you have with his embarking upon a therapeutic course of action that can only end badly seeming all the worse. Gainsbourg is absolutely fearless in this role. It’s no surprise von Trier has opted with work with her again. If you are a horror aficionado with a high tolerance not only for VERY graphic images but also methodical pacing check it out. I don’t mean to give the impression the film is non-stop blood and guts. It’s not. The very violent parts only come towards the end and anyone seeing the movie just for that, boy do you have the wrong flick. If you’re feeling daring though, Antichrist is a haunting movie worth checking out.

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