Film Review: ANTICHRIST (2009)

Film Review: ANTICHRIST (2009)

Feb 28, 2016

IMDb: Antichrist (2009)
Director: Lars von Trier
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm

Lost and unattentive during the heat of having passionate sex, He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the two are consumed by only the primal urges and emotions that flow through them. While lost in eachother, their infant son Nick (Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm) falls to his death from an open window in a moment of poetic horror. The balance of good (sex) and evil (loss of their son), is a struggle of opposites that represents many of the themes in this experimental horror film from the Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier. The child’s death becomes the motivating factor in a film that is told in four chapters, each segment representing a stage in the process.

He is a psychologist, a domineering male that represents the opposite of his wife. Indifferent yet quick to see blame in the eyes of his wife. She is a woman that devalues herself in result of the traumatic event. Lost in her studies of witchcraft and gynocide, She sees women as the root of evil. He decides that the only way to treat his wife is to force her to face her fears by taking her back to the cabin in the woods, Eden, where she spent the previous summer with her son.

Metaphorically speaking, the two have already eaten from the tree, rendering their return to Eden to be anything but paradise. As the two work through meanderings and posturing on love and beauty, life and death, they begin to unravel on each other in uncompromisingly brutal ways. It is here, deep within the moments that acting truly shines for the two. Baring all and showing no restraint, von Trier pushes them to limits that are hard to swallow, even for actors that are knowingly in a Lars von Trier film.

Almost entirely devoid of any of the cliches and trappings of a horror film, von Trier walks a fine line between drama and horror, yet succeeds highly at both. In the first of his Depression Trilogy, Antichrist is an eerie film complete with an ominous screeching score that racks your brain with tension. Eventually the sense of impending doom and gorgeous cinematography, seductive in its own right, leads to vile, explicit violence that expounds upon abandonment, depression, and discovering the evil that inherently dwells in all of us.

Clearly made from the perspective of someone that is suffering mental health issues, he almost did not make this film due to his own battle with depression, Lars von Trier takes us on a visceral ride through the psyche. Avant-garde yet many of the ideas represented are easy to follow. The primal emotions evoked from not just the story and the violence but also from the cinematography, framing devices, and color palette adds to a level of realism that is harder to swallow than the moments of extreme violence. Chaos reigns.