ANTIBIRTH [DEAD BY DAWN]

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Marshall

There are some cinematic experiences for which “What the fuck?” doesn’t quite cover it. That overused exclamation of generic mental double-take is reduced to meaningless sounds that are rendered wholly inadequate when attempting a verbal quantification of what in the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster it was that was just watched. Which, by definition, may make the writing of a review of said experience something of a challenge. So, here we go.

The plot of Antibirth, such as it has one, sees party girl Lou drinking, smoking and toking her life away in an anonymous Michigan backwater. Becoming mysteriously pregnant despite going through a dry spell is only the beginning of a surreal nightmare as she swiftly swells to the size of a humanoid blimp and her life becomes beset with an assortment of paranoia inducing encounters and body-horror alterations.

That’s the shape of it. Or, at least, the clearest face of its randomly spinning dodecagonal story, but this actually does little to convey what a perfect storm of a beautifully shot clusterfuck the whole thing is. The drab and greyed wintery town contrasts beautifully with the vibrant chaos of Lou’s fevered hallucinations, while even a few occurrences not from her perspective take place against the colourful haze of backlit mist.

A mysterious drifter provides a little exposition late in the day as the film descends into conspiratorial anarchy like the most chaotic episode of The X-Files, but to look for a full explanation is to ignore the appeal of taking on an exercise of absorbing mind-boggling weirdness. It’s sometimes difficult to tell if some visual surreality is the result of the characters’ stoned perception, if it’s a visual stylisation on the part of the director, or if it’s actually happening in the relentless shifting of what the film’s reality considers a plausible occurrence.

What’s more, you can’t even claim the film is incoherent. By logic warped in the white heat of its own weirdness, it does actually make a contextual kind of sense, just not one that stands up to the rigours of external examination of plausibility. It’s entirely possible that the only way to experience the film and believe yourself to have understood it is to watch it in the same altered state as the characters, the only problem being that, like the Withnail & I drinking game, this might actually kill you.

A relentless hyperchromatic trip from altered state start to Cronenbergian and Lynchian finish, Antibirth might be a good film, it’s just difficult to coherently justify exactly why. Cult superstardom awaits.

Antibirth / Cert: TBA / Director& Screenplay: Danny Perez / Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, Meg Tilly, Mark Webber, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, Emmanuel Kabongo / Release Date: TBA


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