“I can’t be pregnant. You gotta give up smoking.”
I’ve only recently become aware of “pregnancy horror” as a thing. Sure, I’ve seen movies like Devil’s Due and Grace, to varying results of “pretty crap” and I’m still desperate to see the awfully distributed Prevenge; but it wasn’t until I started doing a little reading up on Antibirth and fell down a pretty disturbing Google rabbit hole – that may, or may not have added several films to my growing list of ones to watch – that I saw just how prevalent this bizarre sub-genre is.
So it was with very little idea of what I was letting myself in for that I sat down for Antibirth.
Permanently stoned loser Lou (Natasha Lyonne, of American Pie and Orange is the New Black fame) is ever so slightly inconvenienced when she finds herself pregnant. The product of one of many blackouts, Lou has no idea of the source of her new found parasite.
As Lou and her bestie Sadie (Chloë Sevigny – Boys Don’t Cry) work to piece together how this happened and whether or not it’s connected to the string of mysterious disappearances recently plaguing the area (of course it is!). The permanent bong smoker starts to get hallucinations and dreams that go to horrifying extremes. Adding to that, the gross, disturbing things this most immaculate of conceptions is doing to Lou’s body is really putting a bit of a damper on her fun.
Antibirth is one of those cheap and nasty horror flicks that I’ve really gotten a soft spot for over the years. But more than that, it’s the kinda film you can watch with people that maybe aren’t massive fans of the genre and still have a great time.
Natasha Lyonne is brilliant as the perpetual stoner. She sells every single scene she’s in and as much as you get the feeling that Lou is just a slightly more fucked up version of either her OITNB character, or the final evolution of American Pie‘s Jessica, she’s so funny and so convincing, that it really doesn’t matter. This film may be the best use of Lyonne’s comedic charms in years.
In any other film, in any other genre, Lyonne would be punching way above her weight next to indie darling Sevigny; but here, it’s the other way around. An excellent performance is almost guaranteed when you get someone of her stature in your movie. Whilst she’s good here, she seems to be trying very hard in a film that not only doesn’t require it, but purposely goes for a “cheap and cheerful” look and feel that maybe she’s just not comfortable going for.
Green Room‘s Mark Webber is a load of fun too. In a pretty small role as the main bad guy, he gets a woefully thin amount of screen time. What he lacks in time, he makes up for in presence. Webber’s big bad Gabriel is hammed up so well, he’s a pleasure to watch.
Writer/director Danny Perez has done a great job with his big film debut. Aside from a few moments where the hallucinations, the flashbacks and the current time stuff all seem to meld into one, leaving it feeling a bit disjointed, Antibirth is an hour and a half of insanity that left a massive grin on my face. It takes its time to get where it’s going, but that doesn’t make it boring at all.
At the same time, it’s not an hour of scene-setting “slow-burn” either. It’s consistently fun, with an occasional splattering of gross-out body-horror to keep you focussed and your stomach churning while you wait for the bat-shit crazy final 20 minutes to arrive.
And I do mean bat-shit crazy. You will spend the film guessing how it ends, predicting what’s coming and certain that you know how the finale will play out. But no matter what you guess, you won’t see that ending coming. You just can’t. It’s absolutely mental.
Antibirth screams of the kind of movie that has been made, just so the director can say he did it. I had been looking forward to seeing it for quite a while, but it didn’t stop me from being a little hesitant as to what I was letting myself in for. Now, having laughed out loud several times in the short run time and felt sick almost as many times at the gross, GROSS body make-up, I am certain this is the kind of genre-piece that will find its feet with a cult following and a lot of positive word of mouth. This has put director Danny Perez firmly on my radar.
ANTIBIRTH (cert.15) is released on Digital today (27th March) and DVD 10th April 2017, courtesy of Solo Media and Matchbox Films.