Antichrist (2009) Poster


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theisbj22 May 2009
This movie drained me...

Without a doubt the most unpleasant and despairing movie I've ever watched. It's not just the graphic imagery that got to me, but the overall tone of the movie was incredibly dreadful and you could almost feel a presence of some sort of "evil".

This is a hard movie to review. It crosses all barriers when it comes to movie making...ALL. It makes you question yourself about what art is and if there's anything as going "too far"?

But don't dismiss this. It's certainly much more than just being graphic for the sake of it. First off, the cinematography is absolutely flawless. The opening scene had me in absolute awe. Beautiful... And my deepest respect to Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsburg. I could only imagine how much this would drain the actors both mentally and physically. They are amazing and deserve Oscars.

I have to mention the violence too, since it's a critical aspect. This isn't "torture porn" of any kind. It's natural (it's looks almost too realistic), physical sexual violence. That's why it works so effective on the audience. You can almost feel their pain. Never before have I watched a movie where I felt the urge to look away. You would think that, in the end, all this violence and self molestation is just a shock tactic, but I assure you it's not. There is actually a plot and a sensible progression of the movie. I of course won't say too much. People need to see it.

I can understand why some people wouldn't like it, and that's okay. This is most definitely not for everyone.

It may not be a movie that made me feel good, but it made feel something and had an effect on me. It's beautiful, sad, poetic, horrific and in the end, oddly uplifting. A genre masterpiece.

A must see.

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Worst film I've ever endured
kittyporn023 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Beautiful cinematography, and I don't have a problem with explicit sex if it serves a purpose but quite frankly I found this film to be ridiculous with no redeeming value. In fact, it represents ~2 hours of my life I will never get back. Where do I begin? I watched the film on DVD so I had the benefit of extra features. I watched them all including the director commentary because I was sure I'd missed something. However, it did not reveal WTF the point of events like - the only "oddity" that the autopsy reveals is that Nic has a deformity of his feet. But so what? We find Nic was being forced to wear his shoes on the wrong feet - did that cause his fall? Did that constitute senseless torture by his mother because she was an "evil woman?" Who knows, the commentary revealed nothing. Nor did it reveal the symbolism behind the masses of women descending the mountain at the ending. I imagine they were the corpses of all the "evil" women?" How did all these evil corpses get there? What was the significance of Eden? How did it become the epicenter and burial ground of evil women??? What about all the sex scenes? The finale suggests that her thesis was disproved by Eden where the forces of nature revealed that women are the truly evil, manipulative, and conniving of the sexes. So, why the constant violent insistence that her husband puck her, at every inopportune moment, when he is trying to help her, she is constantly grabbing at his zipper, his dick, its all rather desperate and nonsensical... The scenes went from evocative to boring. I'm bored, where is this plot going? What plot? I'm not impressed - although Defoe's pubic hair is rather impressive (but I digress). After all that, she mutilates herself? Why? Is her cli-toris the source of evil and by mutilating herself she is being set free? We will never know because she immediately gets strangled and burned Salem-Witch-style. Oh, and I almost forgot the most hokey element - the three beggars - Bahaha! The fox, the doe and the crow. She says when they appear someone must die, they appear - she dies. The end, right? NO! They again appear to Hubby as he is limping out of Eden. It is absolutely comical. Then all the dead ladies in skirts start descending the mountain... seriously, its as ridiculous as it sounds.
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A gruelling tale of mythical grandeur
Jack` Harding22 December 2009
An eerie yet gorgeous tapestry of lingering close-ups; parallels, cuts and slow-motion photography, Lars Von Trier's Antichrist is a gruelling tale of mythical grandeur: a bizarre yet beautiful film chock full of sadism and shagging, Satanic dogma and similes. Most of which, I don't understand. So you'll be pleased to know that I have no intention of harping on about the director's bent meditation on gender, nature, genocide, motherhood, misogyny and astronomy. I find all that stuff interesting, don't get me wrong, but when things get Freudian I'm way out of my league. Therefore, I'll stick to what I know.

Albeit seething with emotion, Antichrist refuses to adhere to some of the general "rules" of the classical Hollywood narrative, meaning it lacks clarity, unity and closure. For example, there're only two characters, both of which remain nameless and have indefinite; pasts, motives and are somewhat difficult to identify with. The film rejects conventional morality. It is a difficult and uncomfortable experience that'll unnerve even the most robust of film fans. So if you like your films light, clear and conservative, stay away. If, however, you're a fan of, say, Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now, director David Lynch or you just dig a bit of alternative cinema, then brace yourself for a hugely demanding tableau that film critic Anita Singh of the Sunday Telegraph dubbed "the most shocking film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival." Willem Dafoe plays "he", a therapist and husband to "she" (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the female half of the cast whose line of work we never really learn. After a quite miraculous opening montage that juxtaposes the couple making love with the accidental death of their child, the embedded tale follows the pair as they flee to "Eden", their isolated cabin in the woods, where "he" attempts to aid a severely grief stricken "she" through her bereavement.

Book-ended by a masterfully conceived prologue and epilogue and split into four focal chapters entitled "Grief", "Pain", "Despair" and "The Three Beggars" (don't ask), the film takes on a ghostlike tone from the outset as the boundaries between the real and surreal become blurred. Alas, things get weird, edgy and very, very nasty. The sheer mass and rate of dense motifs and metaphors at hand regarding sex, Freud, the devil and the soul is a little overwhelming. Not to mention the force and intensity of both Dafoe and Gainsbourg's turns in addition to the film's strong, emotional undercurrent.

In spite of large and sustained periods of quite brilliant film-making, Antichrist contains some of the most violent and deplorable images ever committed to celluloid. For the ladies there's self mutilation. For the gents there's…I, I, I can't even say it. Put it this way, it ain't good lads…Anyway, add to the unthinkable gore a whole host of outlandish set-ups, half a dozen scenes of a sexual nature and one or two jolts in tone and you'll be scared silly. Remember- sometimes in cinema, you fear what you don't understand, especially when the camera is an unflinching eye inside the head of a disturbed, Danish poet. Lars Von Trier is an excellent filmmaker, but even his biggest fans will find it hard to swallow this, never mind stomach it.

Dedicated to the memory of legendary soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, Antichrist is truly as haunting, delicate and poetic a film as you're ever bound to see. Though shrouded in scenes of unspeakable cruelty, the film eludes to the work of Tarkovsky in a big way: Von Trier's warped Adam and Eve parable is a moody, metaphysical affair cloaked in hypnotic, dreamlike imagery that calls to mind the likes of Mirror, Solaris and the brilliant Stalker. The trancelike photography; sound, score, and editing demonstrate a predilection for atmospheric, art-theatre sensibility. Tarkovsky would have loved it. This, after all, is a film that simply has to be seen to be believed. Not necessarily for its aesthetic grandeur, gore or technique, but for its harrowing portrayal of a soul in torment.

What's it all about? Who cares?! Antichrist is an unusual, atmospheric horror film that's guaranteed to provoke. The performances are honest and strong, the aesthetics are bold, the direction is brilliant and the outcome is something that is ultimately hard to come by these days: authentic film-making.

Jack Harding
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Art-house film?
Reel_World15 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
After all the hype I heard surrounding Antichrist, I finally decided to sit down and watch it. Wow. This has to be the most disturbing film I've seen since Human Centipede.

Granted, the cinematography was very good, but the overall movie is just atrocious! Starting off with a slo-mo sex scene which leaves little to the imagination, the film goes downhill from there. After their kid falls out of a window to his death, the couple head off to their cabin in the woods to grieve. What follows is copious amounts of dialogue mixed with some of the most cringe inducing scenes that anyone has ever witnessed.

There is no redeeming value to this film, and I am shocked at the awards it garnered. Some scenes were almost enough to make me want to turn the DVD off. Despite being broken up into "Chapters" - the film has no real flow. It felt like it was 20 minutes at a time of the two leads talking, followed by what in my opinion is torture porn that would be enough for most people to walk out of the film.

Some of the more nasty highlights would include:

  • Sex scenes which include shots of full on penetration.

  • A scene where Gainsbourg is lying naked in the forest masturbating, until Dafoe arrives on scene and starts to have sex with her while arms emerge from the tree stump they lie on.

  • An especially nasty scene where she smashes his testicles with a log and then masturbates him until he ejaculates blood.

  • The follow on to that bit where she drills a hole in his leg, sticks her finger in the wound and then bolts a weight to his leg.

  • And who can forget the infamous scene near the end where she slides a pair of scissors into her vagina and removes her clitoris.

If this is considered art, then cinema is on a downhill slide. This film is not for the squeamish, and I cannot recommend the title to anyone. Avoid at all costs.
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This is what happens when hippie artists become directors.
evan-310-8039146 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I feel it my civic duty to warn you - your IQ sustain heavy casualties as a result of watching this movie through to its gruesome conclusion. To be fair the most redeeming quality of this movie was the end and in reality I found the movie offensive to watch - the director seemed to have a message buried deep down but might almost certainly lost it ad mists the tirade of unnecessary gore. I can honestly tell you that watching this movie is a mistake. It was disjointed and the scenes were misplaced and reminded me a lot of the Parody that Willem Dafoe did at the end of one of the Mr Bean movies - and even that parody looked like it might have been a better movie than this was. What Rubbish.
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Grotesque but with purpose
bpm_2553 May 2010
This movie is violent and very sexually graphic, bordering at times on artistic but hardcore pornography; but it isn't lurid for the sole purpose of scandal. "Gory" appropriately describes some sections of this film but the word by no means encapsulates it.

If one is willing to stomach the periodic revulsion of watching this movie from beginning to end with a thoughtful and mature perspective they will find that it is full of symbolism, foreshadowing, and the kind of characterization that brings great success to novels. Few movies, in fact, possess the level of depth that Antichrist does. The movie isn't packed with moral insight but that doesn't preclude it from being intellectually engaging and, as a consequence, genuinely entertaining. One will also realize that the violent and sexual content is never pure excess. The gory scenes, though sickening, are always important in some way to the main themes of the movie.

At several points during the course of this film I couldn't help but rewind it to watch a scene again, discuss it in greater depth with my friends, attempt to extricate the finer details that are present in abundance both at the surface and underneath.

To anybody that tries to berate this movie as the deranged product of excessively liberal foreigners I must point you to movies like Saw, which drew American crowds young and old for numerous sequels that were basically just series' of elaborate and gruesome torture scenes, sometimes clever but never much more than that.

There is more to Antichrist than meets the eye, and I highly recommend it to anybody looking for a horror/suspense film that engages more than just the reptilian parts of the brain.
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Embedded horror
Chris_Docker23 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Where does horror reside in the psyche?

Lars von Trier has established himself as a maker of serious, avant-garde drama. He came to fame through Breaking the Waves, a controversial story of how far someone would go for love. He founded the Dogme movement of verite cinema, and made The Idiots, where lunacy and sanity are cleverly mixed. Next came Dancer in the Dark, an almost Janacek-like musical where a blind girl takes inner fantasy to extremes. There were experiments like The Five Obstructions, and two highly theatrical Brechtian pieces called Dogville and Manderlay, with chalklines instead of sets. One of the few uncontroversial films he has made is Boss of it All, an extremely clever comedy that didn't receive much attention.

If someone like von Trier makes a horror movie, it is hardly likely to be standard fare. He makes films that provide himself and his audiences with thorny intellectual challenges. This results both in adherents and those which dismiss his work as pretentious. (Inasmuch as this review is partly interpretative, other viewers may find their own preferred readings which differ from the approach given here.) With Antichrist, although there are standard 'fright' moments, the main horror is deep psychological manipulation that stays with you for days afterwards. Instead of lashings of gore that can retrospectively be dismissed as 'more CGI,' von Trier seems to do exactly the opposite of what a Freudian psychotherapist would do in releasing obsessions. He locks the terrifying nature of the horror to the most extreme sexual images. The narrative itself follows a similar process. A psychotherapist, with the best intentions, leads his wife into the darkest recesses of her mind. But instead of releasing psychological trauma, he reinforces it, until he has to defend himself when she becomes the controlling force.

A psychotherapist (Willem Dafoe) and his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) are making love as their young toddler climbs onto a desk to look at snowflakes outside. And falls to his death. This opening prologue is operatic in its soundtrack and intensity. Exquisite monochrome photography captures water droplets in slow motion to Handel. There is a very brief, aesthetically contextualised glimpse of penetration, setting the audience up for the psycho-sexual horrors that follow later. In the trauma of bereavement, He asks his wife to visualise her worst nightmares in order to help her overcome them. She pictures the woods as symbolising her fear, and they both retreat to an 'Eden' – an isolated cabin surrounded by woods.

The film is divided into six parts, including a Prologue (the lovemaking and death), Grief, Pain, and Despair; The Three Beggars, and an Epilogue. At the end of the prologue, the next three chapters are heralded by three toy soldiers from the dead son's toyroom, each appropriately named.

With Grief, comes very palpable sorrow from both leads. The players become substantial rather than dramatis personae. Colour is added to the previously monochrome palette, literally and in terms of filling out their characters.

As we go through Pain, his wife seems eventually cured. Our nerves, however, are frayed. This is compounded by the rhythmic, hypnotic pounding of acorns falling on the roof of the cabin, and his irritating but inescapable smugness as he treats his wife as a patient rather than a human being needing support. He forever has a self-satisfied, smart answer. Retreating to her own area of expertise, she comes out with ever more unanswerable metaphors, including, "Nature is Satan's Church." (She had been working previously on a book about 'Gynocide' and witch-hunts). The chapter finally introduces openly surreal elements, when a fox is unearthed. (The cunningness of foxes suggests a reliance on logic, whereas the subconscious can rely more on symbols, introducing chaos to a 'logical world.') Chapter three is entitled Despair (Gynocide). He learns things about his wife he didn't know before but perhaps should have. He is pulled into her nightmare. We see him soaked in the rain, at the mercy – for the first time – of the elements. The fourth chapter gives form to the imaginary content of the preceding three, and includes the most upsetting and outrageous scenes (which some viewers will find objectionable). The epilogue provides a narrative and psychological resolution in the only way possible when things have come to such a head. We also see the story relate now to the whole of humanity.

The title of the film contains far more than is at first apparent, although there is also some weakness for the film there. In ancient (pre-'Christian') mythology, the 'Christos' was the enlightened soul within, a central experience of the Gnostic 'heretics.' Their pure aspiration enflamed prayer to reach this exalted realisation. The danger, of course, was that they would mistake an experience along the way for the 'ultimate truth' and become 'obsessed.' This also relates to why so many mystics and spiritual seekers form their own sects. From a Roman Catholic viewpoint, it might be used to explain many different churches that fall short of the ultimate authority. Von Trier is a lapsed Catholic, and describes himself as increasingly atheist. He has said he keeps a copy of Nietzsche's Antichrist at his bedside. In Nietzschean terms, any (traditional) religious conviction is an obsession that falls short of ultimate truth. In New Testament orthodoxy, an Antichrist is what (or who) precedes the Second Coming. Obsession as a temptation along the way works in all mythologies. Psychologically, this is simple description of a process in the mind. But von Trier's use of Christian symbols complicates the issue and obfuscates an elaborate tragedy that is already nearly Shakespearean in its format.

Antichrist is sure to get reactions, even from audiences not geared to his work. For them, the extreme and graphic sexual imagery may be a psychological device too far. For others, among whom are a rare breed of horror aficionados that enjoy a challenge while being outraged and violated, it is a gem of inestimable value.
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davinci_loves_movies4 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
What it takes to make an 'Art' movie???.........Nothing, just show whatever you hate the most and you cant understand unless you are Einstein or a psycho!! If showing disgusting things is 'art', then becoming artist is not a big deal. I can show people smearing human feces all over their body and then laughing out of proportion and then cut....... and next scene of a decaying pig head with maggots coming out of it's mouth ....and millions of shots like that.....Is this art?? Well, for those praising this movie (I doubt how much they actually understand art) this could be an art, but for me, this is disgusting imagination of a psychopath, who needs mental treatment as early as possible. Get real, get courage to say that the king is nude. If someone makes a movie in the name of art, doesn't mean you need to praise it even if you don't understand that. For those who haven't seen this movie, I warn them not to watch. They will be regretting for losing 100 mins of their precious life.
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Chaos Reigns
tieman645 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Lars Von Trier directs "AntiChrist", a film comprised of six clear segments.

Prologue: Whilst a husband and wife have sex at home, their toddler climbs out a window and falls to his death. In the film, the husband is a therapist and is known simply as He. Similarly, the wife is a researcher into the history of witchcraft and is known simply as She. Note: He is played by Willem Dafoe, who famously portrayed Jesus Christ in Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ".

Chapter one (Grief): She collapses at her child's funeral and is hospitalised. He takes over her treatment, believing that He can cure her with the miracles of Science. His theory is that she must "re-live her deepest fears". She says she associates fear with Eden, a cabin in the woods where she spent the previous summer trying to finish her dissertation on "Gynocide" (the killing of women). The duo travel to Eden (the Biblical cradle of mankind) and hike through the woods. He sees a deer whose stillborn fawn is still partly contained in its womb. At this stage, Mother and Child, Nature and Woman, aren't yet at war.

Chapter two (Pain): He directs her in therapeutic exercises. "I understand that everything beautiful is perhaps hideous," she says. "All things cry, all things die." Out walking, He sees a wounded fox which speaks: "chaos reigns."

Chapter three (Despair): He discovers that She was deliberately injuring their child. Why? He confronts her. She knocks her husband unconscious, batters his genitals, masturbates him, and bolts a lathe wheel onto his leg. He manages to crawl into a foxhole where he finds an injured bird. It is unable to fly, he is unable to walk, both creatures bound to the land. Hands reach out from the Earth, man and nature re-embrace.

Chapter four (The Three Beggars): It is revealed that she was watching their son as he climbed up to the window. She let the kid die. She mutilates her own genitals with scissors. Her scream alerts the deer, fox, and bird, which come to the cabin. Seeing Him about to extract the wheel, she stabs him. He fights back, strangles her, and burns her corpse on a pyre. A modern man of science becomes a medieval witch hunter.

Epilogue: He limps away from Eden. Human bodies litter the landscape. He watches a host of women, their faces smudged, climb up a wooded hillside. Film ends.

Confused? Bergman on cocaine, "AntiChrist" is essentially the result of director Lars Von Trier's very public rejection of religion (which followed a prolonged bout of depression). An act of embracing a certain existential hopelessness, the film also sees Von Trier penalising himself for all the "wrongs" of Catholicism. In this regard, the film calls itself anti-Christ because it is broadly against Christ, Willem Dafoe becoming a collapsed version of pseudo-science and Christianity who is symbolically castrated and turned over to a hostile world in which Nature, wild and vicious, becomes the atheist's new Godhead. Von Trier then fetishizes his newfound pessimism (the ugly cruelty of nature, vagina, birth, death etc), the Godhead - more Satan than Saviour - symbolically sodomising the holy child back out of Mary whilst faceless women are resurrected from the very bowels of the Earth.

Everything is now wrong and we are already in hell. Nature has revealed itself as the relentlessly cruel, profoundly disgusting and indifferent monster it always was. Human nature is even worse, and women are as disturbed and disturbing as anything because they are nature embodied, able to create, bound to the cosmic cycles of menstruation, pregnancy and birth. Discovering this leads the wife to self hatred, self-mutilation and infanticide. Destroy the penis and the vagina and end the spread of Satan's church. Like Godard's masterpiece, "Hail Mary", Von Trier's women perceive themselves as being controlled, raped and duped by a Nature which does nothing but inscribe its will upon all bodies. She tries to fight back, to kill her child, but it's futile. You do not belong to "yourself". Everything about you is contingent upon the Beast.

The film is graphic, but more so for the paradoxes it raises. Men find it hard to reconcile the comforting warmth of the vagina with the monstrosity it becomes at birth. Menstration is itself now ambiguous, the regular heavy flow of blood stymied by a world of plastic bags, sanitized hospitals, air fresheners and pre-cooked meat. Female nature is likewise experienced in a bizarre, almost entirely individualised way. Biology, sex, defecation, in their raw and visceral states, have receded back into the realm of the private and the professionally managed. Eyes are shut. Doors are closed.

When the couple are later kept awake by acorns falling on the roof of the cabin, She tells Him that it takes a hundred years for an oak to reproduce itself just once. The tragedy of the only child dying is the fear of the modern age. Less than a century ago, over-investment in any given child would potentially be a massive waste of time - far better to churn them out and hope that some survive. Nature: brutally pragmatic.

"Antichrist" is not, however, straightforwardly an anti-Christian film. It is a heretical film in the Gnostic non-tradition. There is no hope, no salvation, no righting of order, a fact which brought about a profound state Antonioni-like depression in Lars Von Trier. But Despair, Grief and Pain (the 3 encountered animals), as Dafoe's character points out, don't even exist. There is no separating the natural from the unnatural, right from wrong, life from death.

7.5/10 – "Blair Witch Project" with a sprinkling of Herzog, Antonioni, Bergman and Dreyer, "Antichrist" fails to both produce a new mythology of despair or even horror. Of course its scenes of mutilation and have a visceral power, but this is cheaply achieved. Worth two viewings.
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Do not be fooled by the hype.
luket14 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
It is with some regret that I have decided to spend time reviewing Von Trier's 'Antichrist'. I am, by nature a curious film watcher, and will, at times, succumb to temptation and reserve a couple of hours to cast my own opinion, when a film creates ample controversy. Thus far my curiosity, across the spectrum has been met with, elation and disappointment in equal measure.

This is, and I make no apologies for this statement, a truly terrible film. I was hoping to read the user comments and be satisfied that it was met with the utter indifference and loathing that followed my own viewing and was genuinely shocked with the ridiculous ratings that have been pulled from the posteriors of those who mistakenly interpreted this dull and pointless movie as high art.

Given that the acting was by no means sub par(Dafoe was very good as a husband/psychiatrist torn between his professional disposition and the demons of his relationship with his wife; and Gainsbourg was nothing if not committed to the role of a postnatally depressed lunatic) and the cinematography was at times excellent, it should give you some idea of how bad this movie was.

One review entitled 'Canonical Sermon, Classical Hero Journey, Numeric Elegance and Name of The Beast' offered an academic dissection of the movie...referencing the film's numerical balance and some other contextual information that completely fails to justify the relevance and poor execution of this movie, which in principle, before pen hit paper, may have carried some merit and proved to be a dark and disturbing study of the human/inhuman condition.

So, let me 'break it down' without offering insight where there is none or jumping on board the 'Turner Prize' high-art mindset that has corrupted modern art finding thought and intellect in the explicit and mundane.

Firstly: This is NOT a balanced movie, no matter how Von Trier cuts the film into chapters. A nice prologue, followed by over an hour of self absorbed boring nothingness (aside from the revelation of child cruelty), climaxing in a violent last 10 minutes that arrived way to late for me to care about the resolution. Simply put, it is quite an achievement to bore someone to the point that genital mutilation, the ejaculation of blood the image of a wife fingering a freshly drilled hole in her husband's leg does not leave them shocked or a little sick; and yet I was so paralyzed by boredom that I was rendered immune to the horrors depicted on the television in front of me.

It is all very well dissecting this movie for its symbolism and I am sure that for an academic essay it provides the necessary 'meat' for some critical analysis, but seriously, why bother when as a film, as a piece of entertainment, this movie fails at its most basic level.

I have watched interviews with the cast, who really don't seem to understand the movie and listened to drivel about how this was a product of Lars' depression. The reality is that 'controversy' is the most marketable aspect of the film and one has to question the misogynistic stance/intentions of the movie. I am not a fan of feminism as it has moved beyond equality but it certainly wouldn't be too late to question Von Trier's relationship to the fairer sex, both in the context of this movie and his work as a whole.

Imbalanced and a cry for attention; a cheap snub of mainstream Hollywood that craves the attention Von Trier claims to shun; or a failed art-house movie that owes its substance and form to antiquated intellectual study that it fails to properly address and far superior 'cabin in the woods' movies that it does not get close to matching....Take your pick of which best describes this terrible film.

If you want cabin horror, watch 'Evil Dead'. if you like dark and harrowing try 'requiem for a dream'. There has been some talk as to the meaning of 'Antichrist' in the context of this movie. I can say with some certainty that it refers to the pure evil that stole 2 hours of my life last week. Damn you Lars Von Trier, you are an idiot.
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