Well, if you can say anything about ANTICHRIST it is that it earns every ounce of its controversy. A bold, challenging, nihilistic, and hateful little thing, this is the sort of movie that movie elitists always claim they want but rarely embrace. Well, if you want a self-absorbed director exorcising some nasty personal demons on film (though I would never say this is anything about Von Trier himself, more dealing with the depression that lead to the film) then here you go. But be warned, this is a heavy movie and pulls no punches. This is not about you liking the film, this is about you surviving it.
ANTICHRIST is the story of a couple still passionate enough to have animalistic sex but unable to connect when not sexual. This couple loses their son in a horrible accident while they are making love and the wife cannot forgive herself for his death and spirals into a dangerous depression that her therapist husband must try to shake her from. Taking her from the hospital and back to their home doesn’t seem to help her so he decides that the only way to save her is to make her confront the thing she fears, and in this case it is Eden, the woodland area where they have a cabin and where she would take their son on getaways. Eden though is a dangerous place, a place where nature is in revolt against itself, and where the elements themselves are against the couple. The woman, at times angry and depressed can only burn through these feelings with rough sex with her husband, who wants to save her, and is running out of options. When the wife has a sudden breakthrough it appears she may be ok after all but there is something wrong in Eden, a secret she has been hiding from perhaps herself, and a legacy that begins to exert itself and this place of seclusion may be the final resting place for the both of them if they cannot overcome the danger of nature and the nature of themselves.
It is hard not to give too much away here but truly, the film is in the subtext, and between the lines. The story itself is a harrowing look at loss and despair but beneath is an examination of evil, and the nature of Man and Woman. Brutally violent and brashly sexual, the film is a challenge. It is hard at times to get past some of the set pieces to see the message beneath, and there are times where you are left wondering if Von Trier knew what he was trying to say, himself. There is a dangerous message here, one that says that sometimes people get what they deserve because they deserve it, despite the circumstances, and it is dangerous in this context because there is so much talk in the film about women being killed through history for being women. I don’t know that Von Trier is saying that women should be killed so much as that sometimes in history, the bad DID die with the good. A bold message, if that was what he was getting at. Messages aside, this is a daring film, and is a heady jolt to the horror genre. This is what horror can look like when it is done as art. Not always brilliant but brilliant despite itself, I give it a point for its boldness alone. A must see, but a very, very hard film to watch.
8 out of 10