Criterion Collection has just released the art house “movie event” of the fall DVD season: Antichrist, 2009’s loved and loathed Cannes Festival sensation from the brilliant Danish director Lars von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville). For truly daring moviegoers, it’s manna from heaven (or, more accurately, hell). For everyone else, proceed with caution.
The plot goes: After the death of their only child, a psychologist (Willem Dafoe) and his amateur scholar wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) flee to a cabin in a scary old forest to mourn. He’s trying to get her to work through her grief; she’s trying to tell him that her terrifying visions defy his easy explanations. Eventually they both go mad with guilt over their dead child and commit some very sadistic acts. Sounds fun, huh?
If you’re in the mood, Antichrist is a sly, grimly audacious feast of sights, sounds, and themes. It’s a brainy horror movie, an ambitious exploitation flick, a gross-out shocker for students of philosophy and theology.
If you’re an art film connoisseur who digs Big Ideas, this one delivers – gender politics, scientific rationalism, paganism, and Christian creation stories are all explored and challenged here. For those who just love twisted, extreme cult movies that go out of their way to mess with your mind – Antichrist fits that bill nicely, too.