Movies – The Ten Best Movies of the Decade Part 3 – “Anti Christ”

I’m sure this movie on this list will baffle a lot of people.  Either they hate the movie, or they hate Lars Von Trier, or they know that I, not to be crude or distasteful, pretty much hate the ever-loving shit out of everything Von Trier’s made since “The Element Of Crime” with the possible exception of “Dancer In the Dark”.

And it’s true.  I can’t stand the boring Brechtianness of “Dogville” (not to mention its strident and ignorant anti-Americanism: how can Von Trier hope to say something profound about a nation he’s never been to?), the pretension of his Dogme films, the boring attempts to “confront” audiences with pieces like “The Idiots”.  True, “Dancer In the Dark” was excellent, but I credit that to Bjork’s acting.  Von Trier has a tiresome tendency to impose limits on other people while only accepting limits from himself, which means he’s basically become an annoying little snot.  A talented annoying little snot, but an annoying little snot nonetheless.

So why do I think “Anti Christ” is among the best movies of the decade?

Because it is, at root, a kind of horror movie we’ve rarely, if ever, seen, and it’s anchored by two superb performances.

I should mention I’m the kind of person who gets into horror movies, and movies in general if they’ll let me in.  To be honest I find it baffling people go to horror movies if they’re just going to complain.  The entire idea of seeing a horror movie is to watch, to empathize, to care.  The center of any good horror movie, or any horror story, really, is human drama, moreso than any other stripe of fiction.  The drama can’t just be the point of the story, the drama has to make you care about the characters and help the audience suspend their disbelief.  Which is why “Anti Christ” builds, despite a few missteps, such a sense of dread.

People were far too distracted by the shock value of the movie to notice what made it work.  At root, this is very much a pure, unsupernatural horror story about how, even with training, even with years of marriage, sometimes you genuinely do not know or cannot see all sides of the person you spend your life with.  Either you’re not shown it, or you’re blind to it.  And the most painful thing about the movie as the hero watches his wife degrade into mental illness is seeing him realize that not only was this there all along, he helped push the snowball down a hill and just maybe is cracking himself.

Like I said, there are a few missteps.  The fox, although not as bad as you’ve heard, is goofy.  But that’s where Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg come in.

After the fox speaks, there’s a title card, and then there’s Dafoe.  And the look on his face speaks volumes.  It’s the same with Gainsbourg, who is asked to play a woman basically going completely insane and run around naked for half the movie, but who works exceptionally hard to ground her performance and her character.  Gainsbourg’s character does horrible things, to herself and to others, but it’s to her credit that these things don’t just fill you with revulsion or dread, but also sadness.  You understand fully why she’s broken.

“Anti Christ” is a difficult film, but not “difficult” in the sense that it’s absurdly dense, offensively slow, or overly preoccupied with making sure things don’t happen.  Quite the opposite.  “Anti Christ” is worth seeing and arguably one of the best horror movies of the last ten years.

That said, I’ll be curious to see what the video game is like.

Next – “Finding Nemo”.

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2 Responses to “Movies – The Ten Best Movies of the Decade Part 3 – “Anti Christ””

  1. Frankie Says:

    Anti-Christ truely was a very, very good film.
    And it’s true, when you say it’s difficult.
    After I finished the film, I was confused. What have I seen? What the? … You know.
    So I tried to go into the interweb and find some sort of (I don’t know the word) written clarification. Something that tells me what I just saw.
    I think that’s because I’m already too brain-f’ed by the normal movie-sheet that I can think for my self anymore… or better I haven’t had the need to do so.
    This film was the first, since ages, wich MADE ME THINK about it! Wich made my little brain work.

    And if anything that’s one of the things films HAS to do. To move you, make you think, make you feel.

    PS.:
    The fox was frigging scary! Holy shmithens!
    Sort of goofy, but that made it so scary…like some old Jim Hendson’s “The Storyteller”-stuff. Puppets are spooky.

    PPS.:
    Also, genital-mutilation.

  2. seitzeeing Says:

    Yeah, I have to say, watching Willem Dafoe get whacked in the wang with a piece of firewood and then masturbated until he ejaculates blood isn’t something I’m going to forget anytime soon. But the movie earns that.

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