Danish Dogme pack leader Lars Von Trier conjures up a slice of unbridled and unpleasant pantheistic horror that’s underlined by themes of grief and guilt.
When middle class couple Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe’s son dies in a freak accident they retreat to their woodland cabin to heal. But soon guilt, confusion and some undefined eschatological force puts them in a very different place.
In fusing together Colin Eggleston’s remarkable 1978 mystery film The Long Weekend with Nic Roeg’s long-feted parental grief horror Don’t Look Now (both thematically and enigmatically related to AntiChrist), Von Trier has created a derivative but affective horror film.
Dafoe’s annoying and controlling Jungian therapist pushes his more pagan minded wife to the point of madness and beyond, while nature (the possible real antichrist visits these two like several figures from The Book of Revelation: the dragon, beast, false prophet and whore of Babylon here becoming a talking fox, a deer, faceless children and Gainsbourg in full frenzy).
Beautifully shot by Anthony Dod Mantle (Dogville, Slumdog Millionaire) and courageously performed by the leads, Antichrist is undoubtedly a work of mischief and grotesque horror. The misogyny he has been accused of may not be the issue here but more a desire to give the theo-babble semantics of The Exorcist and The Omen a Calvinist twist. A fascinating oddity.
(18) 108min, Selected release from Fri 24 Jul.