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Antichrist

Denmark/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Poland 2009
produced by
Meta Louise Foldager, Peter Garde (executive), Peter Aalbæk Jensen (executive) for Zentropa, Arte, ZDF, Slot Machine, Memfis Film, Trolhättan Film, Lucky Red, Liberator Productions
directed by Lars von Trier
starring Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm
written by Lars von Trier, music by Kristian Eidnes Andersen

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 ...

 


Upon 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.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD