This article is a Benefit, offered via this Graboid With Benefits
piece.  The correct guesser of the Graboid was Chewer, Teitr
., who correctly guessed that the following image:

was from the film, Enemy of the State.

Inspired by Jeremy’s Bodily Function Junction
piece featuring Antichrist, Teitr wanted to see a Movie of the Day about it.  So here it is.  You too can have a Graboid With Benefits prize, available at your nearest CHUD outlet, corner liquor store, porn house, or Scientology Recruitment Center.


Antichrist (2009)

The Principals: Director:
Lars Von Trier, Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg

The Premise: Following the tragic death of their son, a married couple struggle to deal with the wife’s intolerable grief over their loss and the husband’s virtual shedding of his role as her husband for her therapist which he does by trade.  When conventional methods don’t seem to be helping with first her depression and later severe anxiety, the husband decides to try exposure therapy: immersing her in the environment that brings her the most fear and then guiding and comforting her through the experience.  In this case, that environment is at a cabin in the woods at a place called Eden. 

However, the journey and stay at the cabin is not a therapeutic one.  Rather, the husband inexplicably starts having hallucinations and odd experiences, while the wife progressively sinks deeper into her mania, grief and anxiety. Her problems start to expresses themselves as an unhealthy sexual appetite and sadomasochism.  Eventually, the husband starts making some disturbing discoveries about the wife’s actions prior to the death of her son.  From there, the story devolves into a disturbing journey of madness and physical horror.

Is It Good: It’s…very weird, man.  Very very weird.  I’ve got a handle on the basic storyline of the picture, and I think on some of the symbolism.  But there’s still plenty about the movie that’s left up to interpretation, which you’ll see if you see the wide range of criticism the film has received.  What can’t be disputed though, is that Lars Von Trier has put together a visually robust assault on the psyche.  Reportedly suffering from severe depression himself prior to and during the filming, Von Trier looks to have put much of himself into the female character, shockingly portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg, who picked up the Best Actress Award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival among other awards.  Willem Dafoe is also noteworthy for going against type as the disconnected husband. 

Antichrist isn’t one of those films that can easily be pigeonholed as one certain type of film.  Wikipedia calls it a horror film, which is partially correct I suppose. Still, there’s enough psychology going on here to keep a room full of therapists busy for a while.  There’s existentialism, theistic inference and imagery, and just downright shocking gore.  How I personally took it was an extremely stylistic look at the slow, methodical degeneration of the wife, which had been going on long before the movie started, and which was implied in one key shot as she witnessed a key event we didn’t know she had seen.  Of course, even that shot is open to interpretation as to whether or not it was reality. 

Mostly, what was happening to the wife, I think (think that is) that I follow.  But what the husband experiences, the hallucinations and odd occurrences, are quite a bit more elusive.  What is concrete, however, is that Antichrist is a powerfully graphic and disturbing film.  If you look at the aforementioned Bodily Function Junction piece, that’s the most extreme moment, but there are others, including the use of a pair of scissors by the wife that is almost as squirm-inducing as that. 

Is It Worth A Look: I think that you’ll probably want to see it once, just for the experience.  It is a bit slow at times.  But the performances by the two leads, particularly Gainsbourg, are powerful and Von Trier’s direction and visuals is signatory to his often unsettling talent.  Personally, though, I think I’m good with the one viewing.  ‘Cause, damn.

Random Anecdotes: Von Trier also reportedly doesn’t give much weight to psychotherapy.  Go figure.

Cinematic Soulmates: The Mirror, The Idiots, The Night Porter, Misery.