Tag Archives: Chloe Sevigny

Antibirth

“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.

Kids

by Nicholas Lay (@laidbaremedia)

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 23.38.11A young couple, stripped down to their undies and suspiciously underage in appearance, engage in some overly gaping lip locking via the medium of extreme close-up. Then, they fuck. During said fucking, our man comments, by way of narration, that his lady friend is a virgin – he likes virgins. A little-known musical project named Deluxx Folk Implosion’s rusty-raw punk fusion proceeds to spin overhead as the opening credits finally roll. Larry Clark’s Kids is four minutes old, and already your eyes are shifting a little uncomfortably as you debate switching it off and pretending the last few moments didn’t happen, content that you’ll never see or hear from Mr. Clark again. But you don’t. You watch it. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there.

Larry Clark’s divisive art house flick has been labelled many things since its initial 1995 release, ranging from “a wake-up call to the world”, to outright “child pornography”. It maintains an almost 50/50 split amongst critics, with many continuing to deplore its frank, graphically disturbing material and heavily sexual nature. Whilst undeniably brutal however, it’s very watchable, a testament to the stylistic and technical achievements of Clark and his team, on what was his debut picture. Whilst his direction has never come even close to scaling such engrossing, high quality heights again (2001’s Bully is an outside shout – everything else should be avoided at all costs), his hectic, down to earth day-in-the-life depiction of New York’s mid-90s youth is a tragic tale well worth revisiting during this, the month of its 20th anniversary.

I myself maintain a weirder-than-average relationship with the film, due primarily to the unconventional manner in which I first viewed it. Though my geeky mid-teen lust for classic cinema meant my 15-year-old-self was no stranger to 18-rated movies, usually the process of watching one was dictated strictly on my terms. After all, when you need to borrow Pulp Fiction from your mate’s brother and sneak a few hours with your sister’s VHS player in order to witness Jules and Vincent shooting the shit without your parents knowing (they probably knew, I think they just wanted me to work for it), you know when to take risks and when to be patient. In short, rather than being sought of my own free will (I’d never even heard of it at the time), Kids was shown to my entire class and I by our almost certainly loopy GCSE Media Studies teacher – for no real reason, I might add. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that particular lesson was an experience.

While, of course, it is not advisable to show Kids to, er, kids, seeing it through a child’s eyes, unlike most critics, provided me with a sense of relatable perspective. After all, the majority of the actors cast were around my age, meaning the peak of life’s first stage of discovery portrayed on screen, re: sex and drugs, was certainly part-tangible, but also still very much part-wonder in real life. The film’s example of youth culture is a rather extreme cluster fuck of literally everything a young person could get up to in one day, but many individual aspects here and there will relate to different people in different ways, more so if watched when you yourself are at that exact stage in your, so far, rather clueless life.

Telly, Jasper, Jennie and co. smoke, they swear, they drink, they fuck, they steal, they fight, and they party. They’re confused, ill informed, and casually aggressive when it comes to issues such as sexuality, sexual health, contraception, rape, and race. Kids doesn’t want or try to make real life teens do anything extraordinary. Rather, it sums up and reaffirms what’s painfully normal, bringing all the little pieces that usually fly under the radar together in an orgy-like, warning-laden crescendo of, in theory, how one’s young life could be effectively destroyed if you don’t keep things in check. Basically, it’s a film that should be viewed by everyone, and no one through ages 15-18.

The themes may be darker than dark, but what stops it from being purely an example of grimy indie exploitation is the part played by practically everyone involved in the production. The kids in front of the camera were virtually all newcomers – real life local skaters whom Clark encountered in Central Park and elsewhere around New York. It’s pretty much a perfect cast, with Leo Fitzpatrick and the late Justin Pierce owning their cocksure roles with easy bravado, and future Hollywood successes Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson showing how and why they went on to big things in spite of their amateur status at the time. Harmony Korine’s streetwise screenplay is smart as hell, giving the impression of constant ad lib sessions when in reality the entire thing – bar one or two scenes – was scripted. The soundtrack is hazy, in your face, hazy, repeat; creating and maintaining tone throughout.

Holding everything together of course, is Larry Clark. Considering he’s a certified screw ball, as his later films prove (again, DO NOT watch anything post-Bully), and had no prior filmmaking experience – certainly in terms of a feature film – he really pulled it out of the bag on this one. Using an eavesdropping, handheld documentary-esque style of shooting, Clark utilises angles and scope alike to create a world that’s up close and far away all at the same time. Bright, intriguing; claustrophobic, frightening – he rarely lets your eyes rest, leaving indie-type iconic imagery burning for a while after, from the aforementioned opening scene, to Jennie’s revelation, to four very young lads crammed on a sofa, sharing a spliff and chatting shit, to Telly and Casper’s respective final conquests.

Clark’s cinematic technique and subject matter go hand in hand, but the sex, drugs, violence, and related range of raw emotions on show aren’t there for the sake of it. Instead, Clark ties the numerous everyday aspects of being young together in a compact (and, granted, over the top) timeline, summing up the dreams and nightmares of the average city-dwelling western youth (and their parents); images that are still relevant now, but that were one hundred perfect in need of attention in 1995. It’s perfectly shocking, lightning in a bottle stuff from Clark, something that no one will likely repeat anytime soon. Him most of all.