I must admit to more than a bit of embarrassment at not having seen a Lars von Trier film prior to Antichrist. For those unaware, Lars von Trier is a Danish filmmaker who, among other things, was deeply involved in the Dogme 95 film movement, has the distinction of directing one of the few “mainstream” films to depict unsimulated sex, and is probably best known in the US as the director of the Bjork musical Dancer in the Dark. Oh, and he’s also been known to occasionally refer to himself as “the best director in the world”. Previously, I’d been a bit apprehensive about investigating von Trier’s output. It may have had something to do with the fact that the majority of his cult consisting of trendy name-dropping hipsters, and these folk and their interests tend to make me vomit profusely out of disgust. It may have been that I was far too busy drinking Rebel Yell excessively while watching Mythbusters reruns to do so. Who knows? The point is I was wrong. DEAD FUCKING WRONG. Antichrist may very well be the most important horror film of the last 20 years. Hell, 30 years, maybe more. No film I’ve ever witnessed has conjured that level of disgust and fear inside me before this piece.
I’d like to breakdown the plot, but I’m not sure there’s enough of a conventional plot to summarize. At the outset it’s basically a slow, quiet character piece involving the irrational fear and anxiety experienced by a mother (referred to in the end credits only as She, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg), concerning a cabin called Eden she once visited, triggered in the wake of the death of her son. Her therapist husband (Willem Dafoe, likewise only identified in the credits as He) decides exposure therapy is the best course of action, so they depart to the cabin to attempt to force her issues to the surface. From thereon out, the film ditches narrative form and continues in a series of nightmarish episodes of increasing intensity.