Antichrist (2009) – 4/5

I don’t recommend this film. It’s not bad per se, it’s just not entertaining. It’s vile and disturbing, and at times confusing and hard to watch. It’s not a film that’s meant to be enjoyed; it’s a piece of art, made to be experienced on an emotional level, feelings of nausea and all.

That being said, it’s still pretty good. But not in the same way a traditional Hollywood film is good. It’s good in the way an abstract painting is good; you admire the colors and the swirls and the intensity of the brush strokes, or lack thereof. But it’s not the same as looking at a painting of something concrete, something that can be summed up in a word or two, like a sunset or a mountain or an ocean.

This is the film equivalent of an abstract painting. It has the basics of a traditional film: actors, setting, an inciting incident, 3 act structure. But the rest is all over the place. Sometimes it’s really nice to look at, other times, you want to look away in disgust. The infamous “scissors” scene near the end is, without spoiling too much, a great example of this.

Let’s just say, any male viewers unfamiliar with female reproductive anatomy are given a crash course on the subject in full, graphic detail, with scissors. I looked away. It’s not something I wanted lingering in my mind for years to come. The “snip” of the scissors and the screams of pain were enough.

This movie definitely deserves its NC-17 rating, if it even has one. If you’ve ever wondered what Willem Dafoe’s erect penis looks like in extreme close up slow motion, well, you needn’t look further. The sex is incredibly graphic, and sometimes quite violent, especially at the end.

There are also other rather intense moments I’m not going to get too into involving animals, including one goofy scene with a talking fox that comes out of nowhere and manages to be both funny and kind of creepy. What it means is beyond me.

The dialogue is a bit stiff, and probably the worst part of the film. Dafoe’s character is fine as the psychiatrist, but his wife’s dialogue felt a bit overwritten. They both do an excellent job, though, particularly the actress who plays the wife who must have gone through hell making this film. The stuff she does on camera is the stuff of nightmares. I can’t even begin to think what state she had to put herself in to pull off what you see on-screen.

So, ultimately, is this film worth watching? Not really. It’s nothing great or brilliant, and some parts are downright silly. But it is unique, and it will elicit a reaction from you, probably something negative and involving violent, horrified shaking.

It’s up to you. If you can stomach it, and you don’t mind crazy abstract films with lots of weird sexual imagery and gore, then go for it. If not, stay away.

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