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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Willem Dafoe
Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Directors
Lars von Trier.
Screenwriters
Anders Thomas Jensen.
Running Time
109 minutes

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Antichrist
You may never forgive us for recommending it.


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Plot
After the accidental death of their child, a therapist (Dafoe) and his wife (Gainsbourg) — listed in the credits only as He and She — retreat to a cabin in the perhaps-haunted woods to recover. Eventually, they turn savagely on each other and bloody mayhem ensues.


Review
Antichrist
Browse more images »
Lars von Trier has joked that he retells one story, about a long-suffering woman and a manipulative man who dooms her, in a succession of genres. Breaking The Waves was a melodrama, Dancer In The Dark a musical, Dogville a small-town exposé. This, evidently, is his horror film.

Antichrist is almost an anthology of nods to earlier horror-art achievements. The prologue, staged in monochrome ultra-slo-mo with operatic score and snowglobe snow (plus hardcore sex), conflates scenes from Don’t Look Now, as a couple are too busy making love to notice their toddler taking a fatal fall. Then, in the ethereally creepy woods, He and She are assailed by nature (acorns pelting the roof like hailstones, fungus/leech growths) as in the undervalued Australian film Long Weekend (the cabin evokes The Evil Dead too). This long, creepy section is the film’s most simple and successful act: deep, dark forests are invested with magic and menace, and the stars (alone onscreen for 99 per cent of the film) deftly reveal how cracked their characters are in jittery domestic rows which foreshadow extreme cruelties.

The mood changes when a fox pauses in the act of disembowelling itself and snarls, “Chaos reigns,” signalling a chapter called The Three Beggars in which the bereft parents are visited by the fox, a crow and a miscarrying deer (anti-Christian opposites of the Three Kings?) and She goes into Audition mode with acts of extreme sexual violence against her husband and herself. It risks gigglesome elements like the talking fox and made-up constellations, before provoking walkouts with video-nasty grue. Dafoe and Gainsbourg are wholly committed, though porn actors or prosthetics substitute for key close-ups. Dafoe inevitably recalls The Last Temptation Of Christ as he undergoes leg-piercing, entombment, stone-rolling and resurrection.

Like vintage Fulci (The Beyond) or Argento (Inferno), it breaks with reasonable storyline and leaves the natural world for limbo. After spending the film with only two characters, the sudden presence of huge crowds in the woods is startling, but more weird than meaningful.


Verdict
A star rating is not much help, since von Trier’s self-conscious arrogance is calculated to split audiences into extremist factions, but Antichrist delivers enough beauty, terror and wonder to qualify as the strangest and most original horror movie of the year.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Antichrist
Empire Star Rating

RE: grrr!

L: adambatman82 L: demoncleaner I won't be watching this one. I thought we were middle-class because we had two cars in the estate and had the first video player. The only tapes you could play on it by rental were Superman II, I Spit on Your Grave, and Cannibal Holocaust. ick bastard.  But I've no desire to see this film at all.  ote] Meh, Im no sicko, in fact I've never seen the likes of I Spit on Your Grave or Cannibal Holocaust the whole way through,... More

Posted by demoncleaner at 14:00, 27 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE:

The Daily Mail's off again. Yes, their critic gets on my tits. One of the biggest puritanical snob bores I've ever read. Bambi's mum being shot was torture porn for him. Mind you, I believe Mark Kermode didn't like it much (more because it's pretentious crap) and he's my favourite reviewer. Each to his own! 1 star as I haven't seen it yet. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by steveg66 at 13:46, 27 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

Saw this last night. Despite being a big Von Trier fan, I tried to approach it as subjectively as possible. And I'm still not quite sure what to make of it all. Suffice, there's a ton of striking imagery - the slowed-down shots of Gainsbourg (and later Dafoe) crossing the forest are eerily beautiful - and the performances are strong. The script's not so hot, with some clunking on-the-nose dialogue and an over-reliance on psycho-babble. I counted eight walk-outs from a cinema around 1/3 ful... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Neth at 10:32, 27 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

Planning on seeing this tomorrow, not sure it can out do Matyrs in the 'Holy Fuck this is grim' stakes but its Lars Von Trier, so anything is possible ... More

Posted by fletch666 at 21:23, 26 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

I thought Antichrist was hilarious - best comedy of the year! ... More

Posted by rupert303 at 18:02, 25 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

God damn my nasty tonsils and having to have them out last Monday, which has now left me housebound and unable to see one of my fave directors new film on opening day!!! s for being a sick bastard... I have an extensive range of cult video nasties in their uncut forms on DVD, e.g. ISOYG, CH, Last House, etc, etc. (Cannibal Holocaust is a masterpiece btw!) Will I be seeing this sick filth when able... YES! Will it turn me into a raving lunatic... POSSIBLY! Will I be seeing tal... More

Posted by losthighway at 17:31, 25 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

L: demoncleaner I won't be watching this one. I thought we were middle-class because we had two cars in the estate and had the first video player. The only tapes you could play on it by rental were Superman II, I Spit on Your Grave, and Cannibal Holocaust. ick bastard.  But I've no desire to see this film at all.  ote] Meh, Im no sicko, in fact I've never seen the likes of I Spit on Your Grave or Cannibal Holocaust the whole way through, but as an intrigued cinemagoe... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 09:47, 25 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

I won't be watching this one. I thought we were middle-class because we had two cars in the estate and had the first video player. The only tapes you could play on it by rental were Superman II, I Spit on Your Grave, and Cannibal Holocaust. I'm a sick bastard.  But I've no desire to see this film at all.  ... More

Posted by demoncleaner at 03:29, 25 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

L: demoncleaner L: adambatman82 Saw it and kind of liked it. The prologue and epilogue where particular highlights, at least in terms of cinematically. The main chunk of the film did lag a bit at times though. Im going to work on a proper review tomorrow. 'll look forward to the review Adam.  ghtened of this one.  After seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch a couple of years ago I really want to see to John Cameron Mitchell's Short Bus (and that's cuddly by all accounts)...but I don't ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 23:50, 24 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

L: adambatman82 Saw it and kind of liked it. The prologue and epilogue where particular highlights, at least in terms of cinematically. The main chunk of the film did lag a bit at times though. Im going to work on a proper review tomorrow. 'll look forward to the review Adam.  I'm frightened of this one.  After seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch a couple of years ago I really want to see to John Cameron Mitchell's Short Bus (and that's cuddly by all accounts)...but I don't know.... More

Posted by demoncleaner at 22:20, 24 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

L: antmumford Sorry, forgot to put in the link! http://www.artificial-eye.com/film.php?cinema=antichris t&where=antichrist aha! thank you very much. looks like a trip to london or cambridge...booo! why dont cinema chains play bloody films! heres looking at you, cineworld! ... More

Posted by boove at 22:14, 24 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

Saw it and kind of liked it. The prologue and epilogue where particular highlights, at least in terms of cinematically. The main chunk of the film did lag a bit at times though. Im going to work on a proper review tomorrow. ... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 21:59, 24 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

Sorry, forgot to put in the link! http://www.artificial-eye.com/film.php?cinema=antichris t&where=antichrist ... More

Posted by antmumford at 20:06, 24 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

Hi there, This should answer your question. I can't wait to see it too :D ... More

Posted by antmumford at 20:05, 24 July 2009 | Report This Post


Well worth the pain

Yes, it's a tough watch, yes, it's gruelling...but it's such a beautiful film. Cinematography is magical, beautiful sequences of shots that cut to the point. Von Trier and the lead actors (Gainsbourg in particular) portray the overwhelming grief & mental pain really well. The escalation of the events is captivating, as the nature takes the lead in the game. It is absolutely fantastic that any man could conceive such a film, especially being bed-bound by a severe bout of clinical depression. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nari at 09:31, 24 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: grrr!

Is there a list of cinemas that are showing this film? Anywhere I can go to find out if it will be shown even remotely near me? ... More

Posted by boove at 14:51, 23 July 2009 | Report This Post


grrr!

Thanks for filling your review with spoilers Empire! Still, I am very much looking forward to seeing this. I love the way Von Trier rubs people up the wrong way.,. I have to rate this out of five or I can;t submimt my comment but i haven't seen it yet so ignore the rating... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dayglowjoe at 23:33, 22 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Having read in other reviews....

When is it coming out in Malta? When?nd I hope they won't cut it here. Been waiting too long now...too damned long. (six months were made to look like a five years). ... More

Posted by Deviation at 13:52, 21 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Having read in other reviews....

I'm completely thrown by this... it came out of the blue for me, but it sounds extraordinary.  I can't decide if I want to see it or not, as the whole "gore-porn" thing (certain aspects of this sound like it would qualify in that category) has no appeal to me at all.  My curiosity is defeinitely getting the better of me. ... More

Posted by Drone at 22:43, 20 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Having read in other reviews....

L: SpaceLion L: tftrman L: SpaceLion exactly what Gainsbourg's character does to Dafoe's assures that I will never go to see this. Stomach-churning stuff. Hence my one-star. You don't work for the Daily Mail do you? 1 star for a film you haven't seen, dear oh dear..... didn't want to give it any rating at all, but I wasn't permitted to post without doing so. Perhaps I should have given it a three and let the other ratings balance it out. Apologies for the unfair influence. ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 15:04, 20 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Having read in other reviews....

L: tftrman L: SpaceLion exactly what Gainsbourg's character does to Dafoe's assures that I will never go to see this. Stomach-churning stuff. Hence my one-star. You don't work for the Daily Mail do you? 1 star for a film you haven't seen, dear oh dear..... didn't want to give it any rating at all, but I wasn't permitted to post without doing so. Perhaps I should have given it a three and let the other ratings balance it out. Apologies for the unfair influence. And no, I d... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SpaceLion at 14:45, 20 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Having read in other reviews....

Can't be rougher than Martyrs...........can it? ... More

Posted by CORLEONE at 14:37, 20 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Having read in other reviews....

BAN THIS SICK FILTH!!!!!! I'm gonna try and get it watched this week hahaha ... More

Posted by kenada_woo at 14:33, 20 July 2009 | Report This Post


The Daily Mail's off again. The "critic" should have his own stand up show. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jo Wareham at 13:53, 20 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Having read in other reviews....

L: SpaceLion exactly what Gainsbourg's character does to Dafoe's assures that I will never go to see this. Stomach-churning stuff. Hence my one-star. sp; You don't work for the Daily Mail do you? 1 star for a film you haven't seen, dear oh dear..... ... More

Posted by tftrman at 10:42, 20 July 2009 | Report This Post


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