Call me shallow or stupid. Hell, I won’t even give a fuck if someone pointed out that I’m a person who’s sheepishly a part of a generation disgustingly referred to as the “Millenials” if doing so will help them tolerate my upcoming opinion but I really do not like most Arthouse Movies. In truth, I fucking hate them. Based on my experience with Pretentious Filipino Indie Movies among other things, most Pretentious Arthouse Movies don’t even bother to tell a story since all they’re concerned about is making something too thought provoking for anyone who isn’t as smart and stuck-up as they are to even understand what the flying fuck is going on.
Case in point, the movie ANTICHRIST (2009).
After seeing this particular title crop up multiple times in online lists tallying what are considered to be the “Most Fucked Up Movies Ever Made,” I decided to see what ANTICHRIST was all about because, hey, it was on the same list as REQUIEM FOR A DREAM which rightfully deserved its place in the aforementioned Fucked Up list. While I wasn’t expecting something as stupid as THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE in terms of shock value, I was at the very least expecting that ANTICHRIST would tell a truly fucked up story concerning human depravity that only a title like ANTICHRIST could evoke. What I got instead was a few good scenes told in between hours and hours of fuck next to nothing happening.
Before getting to the artsy-fartsy parts, I’ll give credit where it’s due and say that the few iconic scenes of the movie (Hint: they’re the ones that involve scissors, home tools and human genitalia) are insanely nerve-wracking, where a three minute sequence can feel like a painful fucking lifetime. When these particular scenes play onscreen, they really drive home the tension, torture and dread the Unnamed Characters of the movie feel to an almost physical degree. You’re not fucking human if you somehow manage not to flinch or cringe in the slightest by the time the movie’s climax rolls in… either that or this shit turns you on, which wins you a One-Way Ticket to Stay The Fuck Away From Me.
Also worth mentioning is how hauntingly gorgeous the whole of ANTICHRIST looks. While the story is very minimalist in its human aspect with only two speaking roles at the movie’s center, the stage where these players interact does a damn good job of visualizing the emotions and tension the current scenario calls for. When the characters arrive at the cabin in the middle of nowhere that serves as the movie’s primary setting, the foreboding sense that something evil is looming casts a long shadow all over this particular chapter of the movie to the point where the cabin itself could be considered to be a character on its own, albeit an Evil Fucking Cabin at that.
The problem of ANTICHRIST, though, lies in the majority of the movie. As mentioned earlier, literally nothing happens for long stretches of time in between the nice tense scenes because the movie’s too busy with long dragging shots focused on grass or Willem Dafoe’s cock. Rather than concentrate on telling the story of the couple’s troubled marriage and mental state of affairs brought upon by the unfortunate death of their infant son, ANTICHRIST wastes fuck knows how much time on making as many symbolic and artistic scenes as possible instead of telling a fucking story. The few times the characters actually talk is also victim to this pompous mindset, where everything they say seems like it was written by some asshole who desperately wanted EVERY fucking piece of dialogue said to be an Important Philosophical Lecture instead of making them sound like humans. Using Philosophical Themes in a movie is something I welcome with open arms, as long as they’re used to drive the story forward instead of pointing fingers at the audience and showing off the scriptwriter’s obviously massive fucking intelligence that’s beyond Plebeian Understanding.
This made it hard for me to give a shit about the story and even harder for me to sympathize with the plight the couple was going through because as far as I was concerned, I wasn’t watching the tragic story of a marriage slowly falling apart, only told in a morbidly Gothic, haunting and surreal manner. What I saw instead was High Art at its worst: something filled with nothing but symbolic bullshit made by the Self-Appointed Cultural Elite who don’t want to mingle with the Lowly Masses who dare think that THE AVENGERS was a good movie. Symbols are a good addition to any story but they should represent something real and tangible; they should never outnumber the reality of things and prioritizing nothing. Being symbolic as fuck and nothing more leads to creating an empty story made up of elements that signify nothing in the end, which ANTICHRIST is by the time the credits roll.
This fucked up sense of priorities in Pretentious Arthouse Movies is why I have a massive sense of loathing when it comes to these kind of films because I find it a complete waste of storytelling resources. Movies are meant to tell a story using all the benefits of the Visual Medium and make the tale they’re telling as perfect as its Target Audience deserves while at the same time being accessible enough for the Newcomers curious enough to give a different story a shot. Pretentious Arthouse Movies, on the other hand, prefer to alienate anyone the Cultural Elitists consider to be too “mainstream” or “dumb” by making self-congratulatory movies meant to appease their craving for even more Pretentious Bullshit. ANTICHRIST is this kind of movie and it shows all these overblown characteristics in spades.
Perhaps the worst sin of ANTICHRIST is the fact that it’s lifeless as fuck. For over two hours, audiences are treated to slow moving shots of nature and while them nature shots do look great in a haunting kind of way, they do fuck next to nothing to move the story along. There are Deliberately Slow Scenes, there are Tracking Shots, there are Boring Scenes and then there’s this kind of bullshit. With the exception of the final act where this kind of pacing helps the build-up towards the more grotesque imagery ANTICHRIST has become synonymous with, a good majority of the movie feels needlessly lifeless, especially when the movie decides to dedicate a good amount of time by doing nothing but stare at a dead animal because fuck you, that’s art.
Maybe I am indeed stupid and shallow. Maybe the worst of my being a Millenial rears its ugly fucking head in this review in particular but at least I know I’m just being honest here. I’m not pretending to be some High Art Critic who tries to act smarter than they actually are, like a good number of the idiots that dwell in internet forums everywhere. I’ll agree with some and say that ANTICHRIST is indeed brave for putting some of the most fucked up imagery on the big screen but that and a couple of miscellaneous aspects are the only good things I got out of the two hour slog that was my viewing of ANTICHRIST.
I bet there are people who will genuinely leave ANTICHRIST with something other than satisfaction because hey, this is their kind of movie. To each their own and all that. Sadly, I’m not one of those people and I doubt I’ll ever understand what the fuck makes movies such as this appealing. For them, ANTICHRIST may be a great example of High Art but as far as I’m concerned, if ANTICHRIST really yearns to be the piece of intellectual art it claims to be, then it should be stuck in an art warehouse and ignored by everyone who isn’t a Stuck-Up Art Critic that gets a hard-on over a blot of paint.