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While having sex, a couple (Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg) is
losing their son under slightly mysterious circumstances. The husband
seems to be coping quite well with the event, but his wife has a total
mental breakdown. She is treated in a clinic, but he, a psychotherapist
himself, doesn't think the treatment is doing any good to her, so he takes
her into his own care and takes her to the place she claims to fear the
most, their remote cabin in the woods, where she spent the months prior to
the boy's death exclusively with her son, writing on her thesis on
witchhunts. At the cabin, the wife seems to make steady progress, but the
husband makes some wuite unsettling discoveries, like that she seems to
not have made a thesis on witchhunts but has given in to the fascination
of witchcraft. On top of that, he finds out that witchcraft as such might
be more than some supernatural mumbojumbo, and nature seems to have
conspired with his wife against him.
Finally, the wife launches an
all-out attack against her husband, during which she nails a grinding
wheel to his leg, then buries him alive. Later, driven by some primal
instincts, she digs him up again to have sex with him, and he's even still
alive but in his condition his penis is only able to spit blood. The wife
cuts off her own clitoris as a reaction, then tries to kill him, but he
musters up just enough strength to strangle her to death instead - which
seems to be as if he was fulfilling some sort of ritual ...
its release, Antichrist has created a lot of controversy over its
(extremely brief) explicit sex scene and its outbursts of violence.
There's just one thing nobody cared to mention: That Antichrist
quite simply isn't a very good film! Sure, Lars von Trier is a great
director, and his talent for creating a creepy, otherworldly atmosphere
has probably never been proven better than here. However, as a
screenwriter, von Trier leaves quite a bit to be desired: The basic plot
of the film isn't exaclty new, but is told in a rather pretentious way,
and his tendency to leave key plot elements open to interpretation gets
tiring after a while, his symbolism, especially when it comes to animals,
is rather on the heavy-handed side, and several plotholes suggest the
script wasn't actually thought through all that well.
That all isn't to
say that Antichrist is essentially a bad film, after all it is
atmospheric and creepy as hell - it just falls several feet short of being
a masterpiece, and is a bit too pretentious to wholly enjoy.