Warning: The content of this post is not appropriate for minors, and may be distressing to some. Please read with awareness of this film's subject matter.
Antichrist, a film by Lars von Trier is a piece of art and horror at the same time. It is the first in a trilogy, named the "Trilogy of Depression", also including Melancholia and Nymphomaniac: Vol. I and II. It is a brilliant film, so do not be deterred. If you get the opportunity to see it, I highly encourage you to. Two months before shooting, the director had left a mental hospital, where he had stayed for treatment due to depression. He had not fully recovered from his symptoms and much of his emotion can be shown throughout the film. Antichrist is beautifully shot, but is also one of the most disturbing films you will ever see. I'm going to take you through five reasons why, and hopefully stir your curiosity about this thought-provoking film.
Reason 5 : Pornographic Sex Scenes
Antichrist has some of the most intense sex scenes you will see in any film, but takes it to a new level with its imagery and straight-on views. Within the very first scene of the film, we're shown a penis penetrating a woman straight on, cut almost like it was out of a pornographic movie. The scene was even shot with pornographic actors! When you are not expecting it, it is very shocking and will catch you off guard. There are other sex scenes in a cabin that will leave you queasy, one of which will be mentioned on later in this article.
Reason 4 : Mutilated Animals
Throughout the film, there are many forms of symbolism. It plays off "The Three Beggars" of pain, grief and despair. They demonstrate these to our characters in imagery and hallucinations. You see a small fox, laying in the brush cannibalizing itself, a fawn with a stillborn hanging out of it, still partly inside the womb, and a crow which our main character beats with his fist until it presumably dies. Each animal is connected to a certain feeling or emotion. The fox is pain, the fawn is grief and lastly, despair for the crow. Seeing these images can make your stomach sink and is hard for anyone to look at.
Reason 3 : A Child's Death
At the beginning of the film is the sad view of a young child falling to his death. The young boy crawls out of his crib, walks in to see his parents, who were having sex, walks away and starts climbing by a window before falling a few stories to his young demise with his stuffed animal in hand. The scene is shot in slo-mo and lasts quite a while until he finally reaches the unforgiving ground and takes his last breath. It is hard to imagine how you would feel if you have kids, like I do, and the scene really makes you take a moment to think about if that was your child.
Reason 2 : Beating and Rape
This scene really makes the uneasy squirm. A woman has been controlled by witchcraft and does horrific things to her husband who's been trying to help her. She comes up behind him with a block of wood and smashes him across the head and climbs on top on him, pulling his pants down and trying to have sex. He tries to stop this but she then takes the block and smashes it into his genitals as he falls unconscious. His genitals are still hanging out and she takes him in a firm grip and begins masturbating him. The worst is still yet to come, as when his body releases, it's just blood. It shows the whole act and she even has some blood squirt on her shirt which she wears until the end. As soon as the scene started, you didn't think it could get any worse - but with every second, it did.
Reason 1 : Self-inflicted Mutilation
The main character finds a way that the witch would not want her anymore. The witch had wanted the woman's body for pleasure and control. Finding this out, she finds a pair of scissors in the cabin and begins cutting her genitals so that she would be worthless to the witch. The scene is on the ground, eye level with the view and is absolutely horrifying to watch. Everything from the effects to the sounds make you squirm and close your eyes. I've seen a lot of gory movies, but this is one of the worst scenes I have watched.
Despite the graphic scenes, this film is worth watching for the style and substance. It touches on very delicate subjects and is sure to leave you with food for thought. Willem Dafoe is fantastic as always and the directors muse, Charlotte Gainsbourg is phenomenal. If you can stomach the gore the film's story and performances are great and will keep you watching for the symbolism and visual style.