Antichrist - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Antichrist Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 31, 2010
A far warning to those who can't deal with anything shocking, horrific, gross, or evil: this is not the film for you. Walk away, tuck yourself in, and go to sleep. This film is a descent into the hellish wasteland that is our inner selves. Lars von Trier creates films with characters that have motivations that are unlike the average human being. Charlotte Gainsbourgh appears in this, her first of three von Trier collaborations, as a grieving mother, who has just lost her infant son. Willem Dafoe is her analyst husband, who tries to comfort his wife by becoming her therapist, and they embark into the woods to work within the sphere of their grief. Von Trier creates stunning imagery, dreamlike logic, and nightmarish action between his two leads, who take up the entire film. I enjoyed the turmoil between this modern day Adam and Eve, as they grieved for their son, but it seemed impossible for them to move on. Dafoe's character (named simply He) tries to make everything right again, but his instincts ring hollow to his wife, who doesn't trust, nor does she believe, in his sage words. The motivation for the last third of the film doesn't meld with the rest of the narrative, except when it comes to She's self-mutilation and punishment. Sex as pleasure versus procreation is also a heavy theme thread throughout, feeding the grief that swells within She. It's a film full of big ideas and big emotions, and while I will never watch this again, thanks to my gag reflex, I thought it said some immensely prophetic things about the human race, and where we have been and where we are going.
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2014
Lars Von Trier is a unique filmmaker that has a style that I would describe as eccentric, haunting, yet somewhat beautiful. With Antichrist he crafts a film that is horrifying and unforgettable. The cast here is impeccable and Trier's choices are terrific. Willem Dafoe and actress Charlotte Gainsberg deliver great performances here, and the story itself takes its time to unfold, with steady pacing, which is key in telling an effective story. Antichrist may not be a film for everyone, but those who enjoy Art films; well this is a film worth seeing. Antichrist is a tense, horror film with the art house flair, and Lars Von Trier delivers an unflinching. Raw in your face picture that has a powerful sense of visuals. Trier always seems to go for an unsettling way in telling a story, and he more than accomplishes that with this horror drama. Considering that Antichrist comprises of such a minimal cast of actors, I founds the film to be accomplished piece of cinema. If you have varied taste in cinema, then Antichrist might suit your palette. The content expressed on film is disturbing, and unforgettable, but that's what makes it resonate with the viewer. Antichrist seeks to disturb and succeeds in doing so. The film has its flaws, but as a piece of horror filmmaking it does succeed at capturing genre elements through Trier's camera lens. Overall this is a film that will appeal to genre fans, and it is well executed and quite tense throughout and like I've said before, due to its horrifying visuals, Antichrist is a film that you won't forget.
Super Reviewer
October 2, 2013
A valiant, unsurprisingly ballsy and undeniably beautiful attempt by von Trier at creating a horror movie that goes deep into primal human fears than the popular 'jump scare' genre, but he eventually tries to tackle far too much, including religion and gender issues. As a result, the ending of the film is not just disturbing (as it meant to be), but either confused or simply confusing (whether the fault of the filmmaker or the viewer, a film that loses the audience while trying to shock them can't be seen as a complete success).
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2013
In presenting such a radical and polarizing title, Lars Von Triers asks the central questions: Where does evil come from, and is man an inherently evil species.

Antichrist does not mean the "opposite" of Christ (defined as grace or goodness in this context), but opposed to. Of course it's a fine line, and "opposed" can have several interpretations, just as this film, a two person play of sorts, can leave you arguing about not only who is "good" and who "opposes good", but the aforementioned central question.

As I mentioned, this is a two person drama (with the exception of animals - one who speaks two prophetic words; and an infant who only appears in the film's prologue). Interestingly, the two characters don't use each other's name during the film (perhaps showing a lack of intimacy in spite of all their on screen lovemaking), so Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg are simply "he and she".

Von Triers begins the film with a lovely black and white passage, shot in slow motion, of the pair making love, oblivious to their surroundings and unaware that their toddler is able to maneuver his way past the infant gate and is... well let's just say he's a bit curious about the snow outside their loft apartment. This is all beautifully filmed and could stand alone as a short subject. Unfortunately this sequence is only the setup for the film, which is presented in three acts, and in spite of some wondrous and inventive shots, suffers from some truly atrocious editing in its storytelling.

Essentially we're dealing with emotional trauma here, and the stages of getting through said trauma - grief, pain and despair, each given a "chapter" in the film. For its first half, the film manages to keep you involved and wondering where this is headed. There's an overtone of "evil" with a capital E, that may represent Satan or not (as one scene clearly indicates, when He (a psychiatrist) tries to break She from her "abnormal anxiety" by making a pyramid list of her fears - at one point he puts Satan at the top, but then scratches that out).

What begins as a possible treatise on trauma and grief (which would have been a fine film, as it presents how differently two people can deal with the same tragedy), the film makes a sudden turn, if not into the supernatural, then into the psychotic natural and the surreal - which, at least for a time also works, until the surreal clashes heads with the all too real, leaving the film obvious and far removed from better possibilities.

There was so much potential here, but sadly the motivations became trite and oversimplified, as if Von Triers was afraid to leave anything ambiguous, such as She's investigation into Genocide (i.e. the killing of witches), which leads her (and supposedly the viewer) to ponder upon the supposition that women are inherently evil (the spawn of Satan and all that). She is a representation of all womankind - a portrayal of the emotional part of humanity, where logic cannot find a foothold. It is said in the film that nature is the culprit (and nature being the Devil's playground), and that due to nature, women are not in control of their bodies (I suppose meaning the monthly thing). He is portrayed as logic; cold and distant, seeking finite answers to the infinite questions. Again, this is interesting, and perhaps in better hands could have been profound; but here, sadly, we end up with a brutal sadistic bit of film pretending to be "horror".

My final score is in the middle, due to the wonderful opening sequence, some imaginative imagery, an interesting concept and some powerful, raw acting - as opposed to the last half, with some serious wrong choices, and jarring editing. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Super Reviewer
April 23, 2013
Von Trier has never been my cup of tea, and here he is flexing his provocateur nature to the extreme. this vaguely reminded me of some psychosexual themes explored more succesfully by people like Bergman, Cronenberg or Zulawski, only that even the last two could rely a bit more on subtlety rather than plethoric violence. However a demented and deceiving film that provokes my guts and my curiosity is worth the time.
Super Reviewer
½ November 26, 2012
After the death of their son, a therapist treats his grieving wife, but when they go to the woods, the locus of "her fear," supernatural events begin to rear their heads.
On Netflix a reviewer wrote, "Is it possible to rate a film WTF?" Yes, it is.
Lars Von Trier is a trying filmmaker. One cannot doubt that his films are beautifully shot, and I don't know how he makes colors so vibrant and alive in such ghastly circumstances, but the effect is arresting. But his stories pile woe upon woe in a stepped pattern that quickly becomes predictable, and the shock of each atrocity wears off over the course of his oeuvre. Antichrist continues this tradition, and I found myself horrified and bored at the same time if that's possible.
The story concerns a woman's unending grief, but when the supernatural elements invade, the drama shifts from a psychosexual dilemma to something external but which is never named or fully explored. I'm sure that I was supposed to gain a kind of catharsis in the film's final images, but we were never given enough clues to understand how the mystery was resolved.
Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg were committed to their roles, and that's about all I can say for them.
Overall, Antichrist is for Von Trier fans only, but even they might find the director's tricks wearing.
Super Reviewer
August 30, 2012
three stars
Super Reviewer
January 9, 2012
21 Grams. Pet Semitary. Don't Look Now. Rabbit Hole. Monster's Ball. Antichrist. The greatest family films... for the whole family!
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2011
By his own admittance, director Lars Von Trier's intention with this film was not exactly how it turned out. He tried to turn his hand at making a genre horror film. Much like trying to make a musical with "Dancer in the Dark", he can't help but imbue it with his usual intelligence and artistic flourishes that take it beyond a mere genre picture. Von Trier doesn't quite do genre.
After the accidental death of their child, a therapist (Willem Dafoe) and his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) - listed in the credits only as "He" and "She" - retreat to a cabin in the perhaps haunted woods to recover. Eventually, they turn savagely on each other and bloody mayhem ensues.
There are many similarities with this and Von Trier's most accessible film to date "Melancholia". Not only in the exploration of mental illness in his leading female character but also in his recurrent theme of despair and chaos and his strikingly stylish, slow-motion prologue and use of music. Has Von Trier settled on a particular style now? If so, it's a style that will serve him well. During the making of this, the director was himself suffering from depression (which was further explored in "Melancholia") and it shows. You can see his understanding of the isolation of mental health not to mention the false hope in any saviour from it. This is brilliantly portrayed by two exceptionally brave performances from his actors. Gainsbourg in particular delivers one of the most daring pieces of acting since Harvey Keitel in "Bad Lieutenant". The subject matter may be one that would be overlooked come awards season but she was certainly deserving of recognition. It's a stunningly shot film with atmosphere and creepiness in abundance and disturbing images of the cruelty of nature. In some ways, Von Trier's realisation reminded me of dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch and his fantastical paintings. In particular, Bosch's most famous "The Garden of Earthly Delights" which depicts Adam and Eve in a wondrous garden before descending to Hell where punishments are handed out for sinners. The fact that Von Trier has his characters' unravelling in a remote place called 'Eden' further fuels this.
Be warned, there are brutal and unbearable violent scenes, that I'm surprised the censors overlooked. However, it's still an extraordinary, surreal and highly provocative journey. Just another day at the office for Lars Von Trier then...
Super Reviewer
August 22, 2009
As much as Lars Con Trier has total control on his own visual style, Antichrist is a movie that is very hard to appreciate because there isn't an once of respect in any of its frames; none for the characters and none for the viewer. However, for the ones who will be able to put that aside, it is a piece of art that is completely astounding and so disturbing that it's almost thrilling. If it wasn't for Trier's unique and visionary style, the film would still be worth the watch for the performance of its two actors, especially from the unbelievable Gainsbourg.
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2010
My original thoughts upon my first viewing of Lars von Trier's Antichrist were positive, but something was holding me back critically and I didn't quite understand why at the time. With further viewings, I've been picking up on more layers of themes and how masterfully the film is all put together. In other words, I think I can be much more positive about it this time around without any lingering ambiguity. What's great about the film is that while it does raise a lot of questions in your mind while you watch it (and after), you can walk away from it with a multitude of different perspectives - all depending on what you take away from it personally. Is it a simple pscyhological horror tale about a woman losing her mind over the death of her son, or is it just a template for viewer interpretation and applicability that likely comes off as pretentious? The response is totally up to you, but I prefer to examine the questions that it raises in my mind about it, rather than simply settling on one solitary viewpoint. I can't say that I completely understood it when I first saw it, and today I can't say that I still totally understand it. But for some reason, not only am I drawn to it but I'm fascinated by it. It's quite a beautifully-shot esoteric masterpiece that truly is a work of modern art (which likely has a lot to do with it). It disturbs me somewhere deep down in my soul, but I can't look away. Despite the graphic shots of nudity and gore peppered throughout with some mind-bending images that will never go away, I prefer to think of it as simply a thought-provoking work - one that will have you pondering its meaning long after you've seen it. Be forewarned though, this film has divided its viewers in half - you either love it or hate it, and for some sadistic reason, I've grown to love it. Chaos reigns.
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2011
Lars Von Trier's gruesome horror film definitely pushes the boundaries of the genre and proves pretty unique. Unfortunately, unlike say, The Tree of Life, it is an ambitious film that falls flat a lot of the time. It proves a pretty hollow experience throughout and left me cold at the end. It doesn't give us a reason to care about the things that happen to He and She and half way through I didn't care anymore about what occured. That said, it does feature beautiful cinematography and a brave performance from Charlotte Gainsbourg. ''Antichrist'' ultimately does prove an insane movie-watching experience and one of the craziest I've seen, but as a film itself it doesn't really work.
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2011
i watched this with the anticipation that it would be boring, but i was also extremely curious why its viewrs are separated into bipolarization, the loather and the lover. also, i have seen two people doing presentations on this movie in two conferences. thus, i assume i would just give a look to see whether it really has something to say or it's just another incomprehesible avant-gardist work which projects a pretentious air of pround-ness, but by actuality, just a self-indulgent work which is not meant to be understood by anyone but the author himself (lars von trier)...and it turns out to be the former.

lars von trier has a really convulted way of story-telling in his cinematic style, but my purpose here is to elucidate. therefore, i just depict the movie's story-time (the actual event in linear order..narrative time is how the story is told, the way it is presented in the movie): a woman, whose husband is psychoanalyst, has her child fall from the window and killed during lovemaking with her husband because she doesn't stop from sex to keep the infant from moving toward the window. after the tragedy, her sanity is teetering on the borderline of hysteria and she internalizes this sense of guilt with the content of the academic dissertation she was working on while the child was still alive. the dissertation is about gendercide (mass killings on women in 16th century) which is inclined to believe that the essence of woman is evil and woman-kind should be eradicated for the sake of human goodness. hence, this woman inflicted with hysteria deteriorates into raging paranoia while her psychoanalyst husband is striving to treat her himself by bringing her into the woods which is the fountainhead of her fear. her conditions decline according to the chronic stages of gender-cide mythology: grief, pain and despair. at last, she even performs the sadomasochistic gimmicks she acquires from the researches she's made upon her husband and herself. her madness eventually becomes so repulsively compelling that her psychoanalyst husband has to slaughter her himself and torch her corpse in flaming fire just to rinse off these nightmarish memories within the forest, a.k.a. nature as the church of satan.

SPOILER: she even uses a scissor to chop off her clitoris.

the movie is a mockery toward psychoanalysis, which has been criticized as phallocentric, a discourse composed by man, a methodology to evaluate the patients through a male-centered perspective. one notable notion about perverse killings in the realm of psychoanalysis is, that man inflicts the violence in the eye of THE OTHER (any form of god, an abstract form omnipotent gazer) upon others while woman inflicts violence upon herself in the eye of the other (any bystander who witnesses her cruety against herself). "antichrist" is a parody toward this gendering notion within psychoanalysis, which is deemed by some as misogynism. the other, in the case of "antichrist", is the husband. in one scene, she requests him to hit her during sex, then the couple wind up fornicating in the wild while lots of ghastly hands and tree branches occur simultaneously to fabricate an eerie image. she needs him to be there to witness her violence against herself, and his eventual eradication of the mad wife is committed under the gaze of THE OTHER. from this aspect, it is my belief that lars von trier must be amateurish enthusiast for psychoanalysis, and he illustrates those psychoanalytic ideas through cinematic visuals in the deranged sequence of the mind of schizophreniac patients.

within the binary opppositions of genders, in other words, the essentialist perception of genders, woman represents nature while man stands for culture. in the case of film noir, femme fatale occupies the position of culture while the good woman who redeems the noir anti-hero posits in the spot of nurturing nature. just observe some scenes in classic noir, femme fatale always appears in the urban surroundings like night-clubs and public lounges. that is to say, woman shouldn't infiltrate into the realm of man, which is culture, and woman with culture is dangerously phallic as she might do harm unto the man as well as herself. but in the case of "antichrist", the evil of femininity is located within the nature while the man as the psychoanalyst, surely represents the culture. it erases the dichotomic demarcations within the stereotypes of good and bad femininities by generalizing that all woman-kind is derived from nature and nature is evil (church of satan). furthermore, sexually unbridled woman is hazardous just as nature without human appropriation is perilous, such as typhoon, earthquake, tsunami..etc. during this film, the woman conducts herself like a sex maniac who utilizes sex as alleviator at the paramount of her delirium. that symbolizes the foresight of an upcoming disaster once nature is running amok without the endeavorments of human moderations. in their last sex, she even attempts to cripple him, and the blood semen ejaculated from the wounded man in coma is the expellant gush of death. ejaculated semen during sex, by its archaic meaning, means life because each sex bears the potentiality of producing a life. onanism creates no life, and the woman maneuvers to induce from the man in the action of hand-sex is no essence of life. on the contrary, it's the essence of death.

does anyone who's seen it understand the metaphor of the last scene in the movie? in my comprehesion, the man plucks a plant filled with buds (i don't know how to describe the term correctly), and he gazes it in wonderments. then a group of young girl emerge from the hillside to leave him in perplexion. the plant of buds is the metaphor of seed-bearing matrix. after he finally murders his wife, in the moment of his foremost disgust with womankind, females just appear all around him to leave him dumbfound within the maze of nature. that means, you simply could not escape this ubiquitious existence of womankind, if you consider the female as evil, the essence of evil shall flow all around you to put you into perennial state of incessant nightmares.

(ps) i laughed when i read from pamel d, whose review says stuff like who wants to see nudity of willaim dafoe and charlotte gainsbourg, and she demeans roger ebert for praising the bravery in sex scenes of anitchrist while underrating isabella rosellini in blue velvet. my feelings after finally seeing antichrist is: i think both blue velvet and antichrist are good in different ways, and david lynch is a comparatively more glamorous by style and he favors to use really good-looking women as his femme fatales and his sex scenes are always disturbingly enjoyable. i do agree, ebert underrates blue velvet. but i must admit gainsbourge's sacrifice is bigger because who would really think this woman is sexy after watching this?! (cutting off clitoris, give me a break, i wanna puke) she's somehow a much much less glamorous woman by comparison with rosellini, and she destorys the last possible bit of feminine charm by uglifying herself even more! i assume, most people. after watching blue velvet, would consider isabella rosellini very sensual and alluring, goddess of sex to some, but no one would really think like that after antichrist (if you do, you might have a problem. lol.)

in my opinion, i consider the sex in antichrist is meant to be disgusting, and that's why trier casts william dafoe and charlotte gainsbourge to de-eroticize sex!!! it's meant to be un-sexy, repulsive, appalling and completely a turn-off! if the sex looks tasty, you might not wanna think of any of those metaphoric conceptualizations within this picture after being so mesmerized by the sex.
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2011
It is a very disturbing movie. Rated R, no doubt about it. Psycho-horror is the right genre I believe. I personally loved the art conception, photography and the soundtrack. The story is very weird and keeps you in suspense through REALLY disturbing scenes. The acting is amazing and portraits a different conception of Hell. We are indeed evil by nature. However, some of the scenes involving the fox, deer and crow seems out of place. Is different for sure. I recommend it but PLEASE: No kids (sex, violence, disturbing images)
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2011
A daring, disturbing, and unnerving depiction of a couple (Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg) torn apart after their child is killed in a terrible accident. The first hour features some beautiful imagery, brilliant pacing, and fine acting, coupled with a last half hour that rips that methodical pacing asunder and throws some torture-porn aspects into the equation, leaving a large chunk of it nearly unwatchable. This is really a hard movie to rate. It has some great things to say about the evolution of women over-time (or de-evolution), which could understandably be seen as misogynistic, a tag director Lars von Trier has undoubtedly been slapped with more than a few times in his career. The last half hour is not very well put together, some things flat-out just don't make sense and the tie-in that humanity has with nature oversteps its bounds at one particular instance near the film's violent climax. However, you have to give von Trier credit for being so bold, even if he goes bananas in the last frame.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2011
Not for's one of the most difficult films I have ever seen. Visually disturbing, but well-done. Gainsbourg is incredible...she put SO much into this character.
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2011
Lars von Trier's "Antichrist" is probably the most extreme portrait of grief ever committed to film. The film is also openly misogynistic. For as nasty as the film can get (genital mutilation, graphic sexual content, dismembered animals, a child's death), you simply cannot take your eyes off the screen. Willem Dafoe is good here, but he is outmatched by the fearless Charlotte Gainsbourg. "Antichrist" is a violent, uneasy deconstruction of violence, nature, grief and the inherent evil in women. If you are willing to examine these themes objectively there are some satisfying moments, but if you watch the film subjectively, it's a horrifying, troubling experience.
Super Reviewer
May 23, 2011
I've never liked Lars Von Trier. From Dear Wendy to Dogville, Von Trier is nothing more than a pretentious, ignorant excuse for an artist who really wants to be the next Ingmar Bergman. I don't think Von Trier would have a problem with me saying that either; he'll probably think he's done something right in provoking such extreme hatred out of me.
Truth is, I don't think his films make any sense. Since I'm reviewing Antichrist, let's talk about it. The film's detractors have often criticized it as misogynist. I don't think the film is misogynist. It's more about human nature as inherently evil and destructive. Essentially, if you put two people in a room, sooner or later they will kill each other.
Antichrist is the Genesis creation story retold as a horror film. Von Trier doesn't name the couple (the only two characters in the film), so they are essentially Any-Man and Any-Woman. The cabin they retreat to is called Eden, and yes, the setting is ironically desolate, decayed, and debilitating.
But the mistake Von Trier makes is that both his characters are essentially nothing but evil. He is a selfish, sexist pig who thinks He knows what's best for His wife, while She is "Hate Incarnate". She watches her son fall out of a window to his death, but does nothing as she's in the middle of having sex. She believes women are inherently evil because human nature is evil and nature controls the female body. Eventually She snaps at Him, and the last twenty minutes are a gruesome bloodbath that does not invoke sympathy or disgust - maybe disgust if you can't stand gore. But why do we care about these people? They're not reflective of real people. They represent Ideals. So, right away, Von Trier's "message" is nul and void. Evil exists, but what's disturbing about the original Creation story is how Evil triumphs over Good. When Good is completely absent, who cares what happens? Maybe my ideas conflict with Von Trier and I can't put them aside to understand him. But that's okay, cuz I don't think he has any idea what he's talking about. YouTube how he just got banned from Cannes for calling himself a Nazi and you might just agree with me.
Super Reviewer
September 27, 2009
We all have our own personal reasons to watch movies. I love being moved and stirred and touched by film, but what I ultimately search for is entertainment. I mean, isn't that the whole point of film-watching? Antichrist provides very little in way of entertainment, but it still holds a strange, hypnotic power, while redefining the word "harrowing".

The Prologue to Antichrist is a gorgeous, devastating silent short film but this art-house take on torture porn, as a whole, is by no means an enjoyable experience. Willem Dafoe is solid, but Charlotte Gainsbourg is truly terrifying in one of the finest displays of talent in recent years. Easily the most disturbing film I've ever watched.
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