Antibirth is a trip. It rips through a melange of weird and wonderful film references that occasionally clash but are altogether engrossing on screen. Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny lend their talents to a film that would not be nearly as interesting without them.The film’s aesthetic along with its bizarre story make it worth watching, even if it occasionally uses old tricks to get its message across. Antibirth takes body-centred horror to a whole new level with horrifying results.
Natasha Lyonne stars as Lou, an aimless party girl who abuses substances throughout nearly every scene. When Lou goes to a party with best friend Sadie (Chloë Sevigny), she ends up with strange symptoms including an unexplained pregnancy. Things go south for Lou from there as she experiences strange visions and progressively more brutal bodily ailments. Antibirth is as disgusting as it is fascinating, and plays like a rapid succession of homages perfect for fans of Troma and exploitation films.
Antibirth is rife with references. It’s difficult not to draw connections to Gummo, beyond Chloë Sevigny it seems to have the same sense of an impending doom told through castles made of trash. Rosemary’s Baby is another clear connection, though Lou has infinitely more sass than Rosemary. There’s also something distinctly Lynchian about Antibirth, though it’s more colourfully absurd. It’s clear that director Danny Perez is set on paying respects to those who came before him but this does’t mean he doesn’t put forth his own idiosyncratic vision.
There are moments of Antibirth that are intensely interesting. For example, there’s something really empowering about Lou. Rather than freaking out in a typified fashion, she rejects the idea of pregnancy and rather refers to it as being “infected” and it’s through this line of logic that the allegory of the film becomes clear. The female body as a site of horror is actualized in a completely different way, which makes the film interesting on an intellectual level, though Antibirth is certainly not a slow burning think-piece. When it all comes to an end, it’s satisfying if you have disbanded with linearity and have accepted the film for what it is.
In many ways it’s a film that effects viewers on a visceral level but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Skin pulling, teeth falling out and all of the typical tropes that go along with the demon pregnancies and embodiments of evil. If the aim is to make viewer’s skin crawl. it certainly achieves that in spades. The film brilliantly oscillates between a neon fever dream and quintessential body horror. Antibirth will certainly not sit well with some and it will likely be polarizing with critics. If you’re looking for a cross between Requiem for a Dream, Rosemary’s Baby and The Toxic Avenger, this movie is for you.
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