Thursday, March 28, 2013
Before watching this I had never seen a movie made by Lars von Trier. There are a few titles of his that come up when discussing disturbing cinema, so I knew it was a matter of time. As far as I can tell, though, this is the only one he's made that is considered to be a horror movie. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play a father and mother whose son falls out of an upstairs window while they're busy humping away. Overwhelming grief and pain ensue. The husband is a psychotherapist of some sort who pulls the wife out of the hospital and convinces her to throw her medication away. They then venture to Eden, aka the woods where they have a cabin, in order to help her through her grieving process and banish overwhelming fear from her life. Things do not turn out the way he plans.
I liked a lot of things about this movie. The music is moody and permeates everything with a creepy bad vibe feel. When the woman is stressed, the camera gets kind of wavy in an unsettling fashion. Best of all, there are some morbid and bizarre scenes with animals that have to be seen to be believed, in particular the one in which chaos reigns with a fox. I suppose the bizarre things von Trier lards this film with could be considered precious or overly quirky, but if you just take it all in like, say, a Cisco-enhanced fever dream, it's successfully upsetting.
Where things get really unpleasant is in the realm of sexual conduct and graphic abuse. Considering the couples' kid died as a result of fuck-related inattention, these themes play a major role throughout. This movie features some of the most squirm-inducing scenes I have ever seen. I found myself assuming that the camera would cut away (pardon the pun) and cursing the fact that it didn't.
An added bonus is that this is a film that will stay in your mind for a time - at least, longer than some plotless shock-value-and-nothing-else production will. I'm finding myself rethinking things said and done in Antichrist and spinning theories as to what it all means, which (as you might guess) isn't always the case with the more lowbrow disturbing fare. If you like films that are about passing on a mood via cinematic osmosis, then you are definitely going to find this interesting.