Antichrist is a 2009 horror film written and directed by Lars von Trier. Imagine what a film co-directed by the Stanley Kubrick who made The Shining, the David Lynch who made Eraserhead and the Andrei Tarkovsky who made Stalker could look like, and you're getting close to the idea.
The film centers around "He" and "She" (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, respectively) attempting to deal with the grief surrounding the death of their infant son. He, a psychologist, proposes exposure therapy at their cabin in the woods appropriately called "Eden", due to skepticism surrounding traditional medication-based treatment. Things go From Bad to Worse. Much, much worse...
The movie started a heated controversy during its premiere at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, with most critics praising the film for its technological accomplishments, while bitterly divided over its merits or lack thereof. Many detractors accused the movie of being deeply misogynistic as well as artless Euroshlock. Not helping was Von Trier (facetiously, we hope) declaring himself the "best director in the world" and Gainsbourg winning Best Actress.
For the similarly-named trope, see The Antichrist.
This film provides examples of:
- Agony of the Feet: While alone with Nick, She used to switch his shoes. This caused small deformations in his feet.
- Animalistic Abomination: The Three Beggers. Maybe.
- Ax-Crazy: If She doesn't fit this trope as well as Jack Torrance, then who can?
- The Blank: The epilogue features Willem Dafoe's character being surrounded by a large group of faceless female spirits who walk through the forest, ignoring him.
- Book-Ends: Both the prologue and the conclusion are in black and white with no sound except for Händel's "Liascia ch'io pianga"
- Chekhov's Gun: The wrench under the porch. The hole in the ground by the tree.
- Crapsack World: Even the acorns are miserable. And possibly vicious.
- Darker and Edgier: As Trash Humpers (which came out in the same year, oddly enough) was for Harmony Korine is Antichrist for Lars Von Trier; a new dark-and-edgy low in an oeuvre already known for its morbidity. It set the tone for Melancholia and Nymphomaniac after it.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Many times by She, then used as torture on He.
- Death of a Child: The death of the pair's young son is what begins the film.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The opening and closing sequences.
- Drone of Dread: The entire soundtrack — minus Händel's "Lascia ch'io pianga" in the prologue and conclusion.
- Everything Trying to Kill You
- The Faceless: Apart from the two main protagonists, the few supporting cast members appearing have their faces deliberately blurred.
- Fan Disservice: The only nudity in the film that actually appears sexy is in the first few minutes. The rest of it, such as She crying as she begs He to slap her during sex, then masturbating furiously in the woods when he refuses, isn't.
- Female Misogynist: She believes that women are evil and were tortured and killed in history because they were evil.
- Le Film Artistique: According to the film's detractors.
- Gainax Ending: After killing She, He goes away, and then he sees a multitude of faceless women going past him and towards Eden. What?
- Genre Shift: Starts as a Psychological Thriller, then progressively shifts to Psychological Horror.
- Gorn: A bit over-emphasized by the critics, there are actually only two short gore scenes, toward the end of the movie. That said, these two scenes are really, really, really horrible.
- Groin Attack: And how. In both the male and female equivalent, and respectively inflicted and self-inflicted.
- Humans Are Bastards: Then again, so is nature, apparently.
- Intimate Psychotherapy: Subverted.
- If I Can't Have You...: She panics when she thinks He is leaving her. It gets very messy.
- Leave the Camera Running: The movie is dedicated to Andrei Tarkovsky for a reason.
- Minimalist Cast: Aside from some people at the funeral, the only characters for the majority of the film are He and She.
- Nature Is Not Nice: Von Trier was inspired by a nature documentary which compared the animal kingdom to hell, among other influences.
- No Name Given: The main protagonists are never named, not even in the end credits, where they are just designated as "He" and "She". The only character named is their son Nick.
- Parental Neglect: She accuses He of this. She is crazy. But She's possibly right.
- Primal Scene: Inverted. Nick didn't see his parents having sex, but She saw him jumping from the window.
- It may be an intrusive false thought on her part, as a result of guilt. The film is highly ambiguous about this.
- Religious Horror: Deconstructed.
- Room Full of Crazy: Double subverted. The crazy was originally regular research material for a dissertation about misogyny, but then She really began to believe that women are inherently evil.
- Sanity Slippage: She completely loses it, after being confronted with the 'reversed shoes' incident.
- Snow Means Death: Nick is mesmerized by snowflakes before he falls out of the window.
- Thematic Series: Part of the "Depression" Trilogy along with Nymphomaniac and Melancholia.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted in that He is a therapist. Things get out of hand anyway.
- Yandere: She.