Antichrist (2009) Review

Antichrist is a Danish experimental film released in 2009. It was written and directed by Lars von Trier, and stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

While a married couple played by Dafoe and Gainsbourg are having intercourse, their infant son falls out of a window to his death. After the mother is hospitalized due to her grief, the father, a psychiatrist, decides to take matters into his own hands and attempts to treat her on his own.

He comes to the conclusion that she must face her fears, and takes her to a secluded cabin in the woods where in the past, she and the late son would go and spend time. Once there, the mother’s sanity steadily declines. The horrors that unfold range from bizarre outbursts, violence in general, to specifically, sexual violence.

The question that is presented to the viewer is this: is the mother’s own sanity to blame for the frightening occurrences, or is there something more sinister at work?

While the film is positively beautiful, it is equal parts frightening, and oftentimes disturbing. This is not for the faint of heart. I remember the first time I watched it I was struck by how aesthetically pleasing and visually striking it was. It’s format was strange, almost childish, for it is split up into different chapters with titles referring to each part. It also felt as though it was trying rather hard to help the viewer locate the symbolism that occurs throughout the film. Though this is the case, the images, music, and acting worked so fluidly as to make this film more than a film, it became a work of art.