Nausea Reigns in Provocateur Porn

    Antichrist
    Starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg
    Directed by Lars Von Trier
    Not Rated
    01:44
    2.5 stars

    Trees drown in mist. Silence. Acorns fall like gunfire on the roof of the cabin …

    Holy shit, is that deer walking around with a stillborn hanging out of its uterus?

    Cannes winner “Antichrist” is hit-and-run horror at its best: gut-churning stillness punctuated by unbelievably disturbing imagery, all to the tune of dead noise.

    It’s hard to respect director Lars von Trier when the first five minutes revolve around Willem Dafoe screwing his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg), while their 2-year-old falls from a second-story window. It gets harder still, when the couple sinks into the irritatingly archetypal roles of rational man and superstitious woman.

    To be frank, most of “Antichrist” is stereotyped and dull. The characters, insipidly christened He and She, spend the first hour of the film in exposure therapy at a sinister cabin called Eden — an attempt by husband-knows-best to cure his nymphomaniac wife of her fear of nature. As the pair slips into Eden’s madness, the hackneyed tropes roll out en masse. The only thing keeping the movie interesting are the many glimpses into von Trier’s twisted mind, making the end product little more than a failed homage to B-movies.

    Try to resist the urge to bail though, because the last half hour is batshit insane, shattering every rule from decency to the Geneva Conventions. “Antichrist” provoked nasty arguments at Cannes over its misogyny and sexualized violence, and there’s no question that von Trier wasn’t messing around. You’ll find yourself reaching down to make sure everything’s still there.

    While von Trier forces us to sit through an hour-long sexist’s wet dream with feeble suspense and close-ups of Dafoe’s shaft, he brings it all together in the end. The twist is sharp, but because of the prolonged buildup, it’s as believable as a roadside collision.

    The wilderness setting may be cliche, but it provides the perfect mise-en-scène when the shit hits the fan. A character in itself, the forest sits panting in the background, tongue lolling over canines, and staring you down as you leave the theater in disbelief.

    Of course, not everyone will have the willpower to reach that end. Though Dafoe and Gainsbourg are experts at their craft, neither character is worth any attention at first. He is paternal and holier-than-thou; she is scared and hollow. But those with enough endurance to wait out the storm will be rewarded. Von Trier goes where most directors are too afraid to tread, stripping away every layer of normative social conduct and offering humanity’s inherent lunacy free reign. It’s not for the faint of heart, but when your pulse finally slows, you’ll see that he’s birthed a hell of a compelling monstrosity.

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