Lou (Lyonne) is a self-destructively hard partying trailer dweller who, when not occasionally working a cleaning job for a hotel, spends her time taking drugs and getting fall-down drunk with her small group of like-minded friends. The aimless Lou lives in the kind of place where either bad things happen, or nothing happens at all. Young women disappearing, experimental drugs of dubious origin and military conspiracies fill the background noise of her perpetually wasted life.
After one night of particularly vigorous imbibing at a party in an abandoned warehouse, Lou wakes up remembering little but experiencing strange symptoms that suggest she is pregnant. This puzzles Lou as she hasn’t slept with anyone in months. It’s just the start of Lou’s problems as it will become horrifyingly likely whatever is growing inside of her was not exactly naturally conceived. Not that Lou intends to let pregnancy stop her doing whatever she can to forget how crappy her life is. Lou continues to drink, smoke and take whatever drugs she can lay her hands on even as her denial becomes more difficult to maintain. Hallucinations, paranoia and disturbing physical symptoms mean facing up that something very wrong is happening.
It’s a welcome lead role for the talented Lyonne who is hopefully putting the health issues and troubles - that for a while blighted her career - firmly in the past. Certainly she commits fully to the role of Lou. In the hands of a less talented actor Lou’s destructive behaviour could have come across as infinitely more tiresome or just plain unlikeable, but Lyonne plays the character as the sad, damaged result of her cumulative experiences with skill. Though supported ably by the likes of Sevigny, Meg Tilly and Mark Webber, Lou’s story rests on her shoulders, and to the film’s immeasurable benefit it’s a challenge Lyonne meets in full.
Antibirth is a grungy, profane and twisted experience and probably not for everyone. Writer and director Danny Perez isn’t so much concerned with making a totally coherent film with a traditional beginning, middle and end but rather it works more as a bad trip writ large for the screen. It’s not explicitly a horror (though there’s body-horror aspects throughout) but a film that straddles more than one genre, creating the queasy, grim atmosphere of a half-remembered night of shame and regret turned outright living nightmare.
Though there's arguably not much substance, it uses its many influences, from ‘50s and ‘60s sci-fi to ‘80s horror and plenty more, with style. A final reel that just goes full tilt for crazy only adds to the charm of a film that’s totally willing to go there. We recommend you do too.
ANTIBIRTH / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DANNY PEREZ / STARRING: NATASHA LYONNE, CHLOË SEVIGNY, MEG TILLY, MARK WEBBER / RELEASE DATE: 10TH APRIL