Antichrist [subtitled]

Antichrist

Antichrist is a Polish film of about a half hour. There are very few characters—four young boys out in the countryside, not even any extras or people in the background of any shot—and not a whole lot of dialogue. The bare facts of what happens aren’t too obscure, though what the filmmaker was trying to say beyond that isn’t at all clear to me.

Here’s what I think happens in the film: One of the boys sets himself up as a kind of leader of the gang. He likes role playing that he’s some sort of demon or Antichrist. He puts them through various little Fear Factor-type stunts (e.g., taking a bite of a raw fish that they just caught with their bare hands, drinking blood—I guess; it’s some red liquid out of a big rusty barrel or something), and sketching out for them his plan for their future (that he will die and then they will burn down their town before joining him in a ritual suicide).

Two of the other three boys do little but follow along with what the leader says. The other boy follows more reluctantly, looking increasingly skeptical and resentful about these weirder and weirder games of make believe.

It culminates in the leader having himself buried to the neck and smeared with mud, for some imagined ritualistic purpose. The boys have been whipped into such a frenzy by now that they lose track of the borderline between fantasy play and reality, and they kill him.

The obvious comparison is with the killing of Simon in Lord of the Flies (with the main difference being that Simon was a mystic Christlike figure who opposed the increasingly savage nature of the boys’ play/lifestyle, whereas the person killed here is the instigator of it all).

But like I say, beyond that, what’s the point? They’re playing in an ugly area where I think some kind of industrial blasting is going on nearby. Maybe the idea is supposed to be that certain forms of modernity like industrialization send perverting messages to children, like Michael Moore in Bowling for Columbine implying some connection between the massacre and the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction in Colorado not far from the high school where it occurred. If so, that’s a tenuous connection at best.

Anyway, Antichrist does a pretty good job with the creepy atmosphere and creepy main character. It’s watchable enough to probably justify spending a half hour on it. I’d rank it around the middle of the short films I’ve written about so far.

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