For those of you who haven’t seen this spectacular vision from the eccentric director, Lars Von Trier, it is certainly one film that die-hard horror fans cannot miss.
Von Trier opens with a heart-wrenching, gut-spilling and excessively phallocentric scene, where a baby boy finds his feet to climb a second-story window. The words ‘phallocentric’ and ‘baby’ paired in the same sentence is, of course, far from normal, but normality is not this films forte.
Filmed entirely in black and white, with classical music filtering our ears, the little boy steps off the window-ledge while his mummy and daddy have mind-blowing sex … or passionately make love for those with sensitive eyes.
The pleasure of the lovers (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) is beautifully juxtapositioned with the heart-breaking moments of their little boy falling in slow-motion. Losing his grasp on the teddy, he hits the ground in the moments of Gainsbourg’s sexual climax. The music fades and we are left with a feeling of intense terror and meloncholy.
In the months after their son’s death, Gainsbourg enters a coma of grief and with the help of her husband, a therapist by profession, they begin to seek a cure for their despair.
Unfortunately for the couple, Gainsbourg has become possessed by the idea of masochism, sadomasochism and an unhealthy sexual appetite. The terrible guilt of her son’s death weighs down upon her shoulders, and she begins to have vivid dreams involving her son and a garden she calls ‘Eden’.
Horror films are notorious for their slow-building tension and suspense, and Anti Christ does not fall short of these expectations. However, if you are the type of fan that likes a ‘quickie’ (gruesome but satisfying chain of deaths) then this is not going to be your cup of tea. The film focusses on the relationship between the couple and their abiding guilt for the death of their child.
It is on the couple’s arrival at ‘Eden’ that things start to get interesting. Allegorical symbols, sex, nakedness and a whole lot of blood spills forth onto the screen whilst Gainsbourg’s character continues her psychopathic rage. There is an interesting and more accurately disgusting moment within the last scenes of the film. I would like to divulge this scenario to you, but I’m afraid it would spoil the entirety of the film and its ending. For those of you who have seen the film, doesn’t it make you wonder how Willem Dafoe survived his wife’s reign of terror?
In a nutshell, this film is one that takes a strong stomach, but the beauty of the mise-en-scene and the heart-breaking opening sequence saves this film from becoming another ‘screamo-horror-shocker’.