The following is an encore production originally published 18 January 2010
In 1987, cheating husbands were introduced to Alex Forrest, the ultimate mistress. Dan Gallagher certainly received a whole hell of a lot more than what he bargained for from Alex, his extramarital piece of ass. But what happens if you’re already married to a candidate for a padded cell? Willem Dafoe quickly makes that determination.
There are very few films that I find to be level ten disturbing, but Antichrist rates up there with À l’intérieur, a French flick about another crazy bitch. Antichrist was distributed by IFC, and, released on 23 October 2009. Its total domestic gross was just $404k, but don’t let that throw you. The movie is a veritable study in abnormal psychology.
There are numerous overly pretentious cinematic metaphors the director has sprinkled throughout the film, but I will spare you from them. If you’re really interested, then I encourage you to see the movie, however, this review will focus largely upon the WTF components.
Divided into four chapters, the first ten minutes of the story opens with “He,” (Willem Dafoe) and “She,” (Charlotte Gainsbourg) having sex in the shower while their three year old toddler (Nick) climbs out of his crib, then jumps out of an open window. The cinematography used for this segment is slow motion, black & white, and set to an aria from a piece by Handel. If that doesn’t disturb you, then the rest of the film surely will.
If you can get through the first hour, then your perseverance will be rewarded because the first two chapters seem to go nowhere. Basically, the audience witnesses the complete emotional breakdown of the mother of a deceased child, and, her coolly collected, therapist husband’s attempts to treat her grief.
When she’s not catatonic, or passed out on the bathroom floor, then she is puking or crying uncontrollably. When she can get herself together long enough, she is a she-beast in heat who can’t get enough. She’d hump a moose if Willem Dafoe’s character was not around.
OK, fine, this is all well and good, but can we please dispense with the Fellini-like imagery and just get to the meat & potatoes of the movie?
Initially, you can understand why she is beside herself – Losing a child is difficult; We get that. But eventually, as the film progresses, you gradually come to realize that she is also completely out of her freakin’ gourd and it goes way beyond the death of her child.
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Not only is she far beyond the help of chemicals and/or psychotherapy, but this break from reality came on long before the child’s death. This bit comes out during a conversational segment when she admits to he that when she was alone at the cabin with Nick working on her thesis, she realized that he was moving away from her emotionally. She felt that Nick should have been there more for her.
The mental illness becomes unmistakable when during a particularly zesty session on the floor with he, she stands up abruptly, then grabs a block of wood from on the floor nearby, and, chucks it at Willem’s raging hard-on, knocking him out cold.
If you thought getting kicked in the nutsack was a painful event, imagine what having a 20 pound block of wood dropped on your crotch feels like.
She then masturbates him to ejaculation and allows the front of her shirt to be covered with blood spattered semen spurts. Since this movie does not have a rating, the audience can see all the gory details, including a shot of Willem’s one-eyed wonder worm up close and personal. I’m not sure whether it was a prop or what, but it looked authentic to me.
A few minutes later, she decides the wood chucking routine was not nearly psychotic enough and so she then grabs a hand drill from the next room and proceeds to bore a hole through Willem’s ankle large enough to stick a metal rod with a millstone attached to it through the wound. Surprisingly, he doesn’t wake up. And if that isn’t enough to satisfy everything you wanted to see in Misery during the mickey mouse-ified hobbling scene, she also grabs a wrench and screws a washer around it so it can’t be removed. Afterwards, she runs outside in the woods bare-assed, wearing just her shirt. If the viewer isn’t convinced by now that she is demonstrably, 100% certifiably insane, then you never will be.
Willem eventually wakes up and proceeds to attempt to remove the millstone, but finds that he cannot. So he manages to drag himself outside and seeks shelter in a fox hole while little Miss Batshit Crazy roams the woods looking for him.
While he is lying in the hole, he discovers a crow that has been buried alive. One gets the distinct feeling that it is probably a very good thing that there wasn’t a family pet available for the crazy ass bitch to torture in addition to the toddler whose shoes she had taken to putting on the wrong feet in order to hobble him so that he would not be able to leave her.
The crow begins squawking, and as crazies tend to have extra keen auditory abilities, she hears the noise and figures out he is hiding in the fox hole. She then drags him out and back to the cabin where she becomes rational for about thirty seconds or long enough to realize what she has done.
As he is lying on the floor inside the cabin, filthy, bloody and in agonizing pain, and, in keeping with his therapist’s coolly detached demeanor, he calmly asks,
Do you want to kill me?
It would be vaguely funny but for the millstone drilled into his ankle.
She then decides it’s happy fun time again and pulls off her pants, but he is unconscious from the pain. She lies next to him on the floor trying various other ways of getting off but is unable to. With each position she tries, she becomes more frustrated and stops.
The audience then sees a flashback in her mind to the time at the beginning of the movie when she and he had come out of the shower and were going at it on the bed. He was on top fully engrossed in the activity, and she was vaguely aware of little else as well, however, she did notice that Nick had pushed a chair over to the open window and was climbing out onto the ledge. But she was enjoying herself too much and so she didn’t bother to stop him.
At this point, she is unable to take the guilt anymore and grabs a large pair of shears and snips off her happy fun time button.
You know she’s gonna feel that the next morning.
He gradually regains consciousness and somehow manages to find the wrench to unscrew the millstone from his ankle all the while the crazy bitch is stabbing him with shears and otherwise assaulting him.
After he removes the washer and pulls out the millstone, he is able to stand and backs her up against the wall where he proceeds to choke the living shyte out of her.
After she’s dead, he drags her outside, throws her in what resembles a pyre and burns the body. This is poetically fitting since she had at some point during the writing of her thesis, become obsessed with witch burning.
The final scene is predictably artsy fartsy. I came away from the film with the feeling that although I was glad the crazy bitch was dead, the ending could have been a lot less allegorical.
Rent this flick if you’re looking for something off the beaten path. I recommend watching both Antichrist, as well as À l’intérieur back-to-back for a double dose of disturbing female mental patient fare.
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