David Cronenberg

Antibirth

antibirth

Antibirth (2016) – Horror

Directed by: Danny Perez

Starring: Natasha Lyonne and Chloe Sevigny

How I Watched: Netflix

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

So there is this movie on Netflix called Antibirth and it is basically about Natasha Lyonne getting super pregnant despite not having sex after her recent miscarriage during a drunken bender in some white trash, creeptown tavern. I was interested in seeing this movie when it was On Demand through my local cable provider around Halloween time, but then I saw 31 by Rob Zombie instead. So once it came on Netflix, I was all, “Hey that’s the lady from Orange is the New Black and Slums of Beverly Hills and But I’m a Cheerleader, plus it has Chloe Sevigny, and they both play burnout, drug addict lowlifes and I really like films like that. So I watched it.

But this movie is fucking weird. And generally, I say that in the most lovingly complimentary way possible, but this movie, not so much. The best way to describe this film in a completely derivative fashion is that it is like Cabin Fever meets Rosemary’s Baby if directed by Rob Zombie in an attempt to woo Harmony Korine. The characters are white trash, but in that punk rock way that only independent filmmakers tend to see them; larger than life, spewing profanities like phlegm at the slightest provocation while taking bong rips and shitting with the door open. Natasha Lyonne is really wonderful in this film, but her character is so surreal in a ‘Gathering of the Juggalo’ masturbatory fantasy, that the fate that befalls her seems apropos at best.

So the meat and potatoes of the plot is just that she gets infected with some mutated mutant sperm injected by the always great, Mark Weber, who is a pimp and drug dealer, and must carry this strange thing to term. It is pretty straight up Cronenberg body horror, but probably thinks it is feminist because is has to do with motherhood being forced or some shit. Towards the end, with a belly as big as a big belly, Lyonne hobbles around with a cane imposing herself in the search of answers. She looks exactly like Danny Devito in Batman Returns. It is fucking hilarious. But the answers come in the form of some X-Files bullshit about who cares.

The culmination of the film results in her giving birth to some neon glowing goomba from Super Mario Brothers, THE MOVIE! And while it is comical, the third act feels like the best parts of William Friedkin’s Bug. We spend so much time in movies hearing the protagonist say, “I know this sounds crazy, but…” and we are like, yeah it sounds crazy but I believe you cause I saw all this happen. But there is a large part of AntiBirth that feels like this is just the final broken piece of brain matter shuttering off in a broken person’s schizoid delusions. You can imagine the reality of a woman, no bun in dat oven, screaming about secret government programs and mutant embryos and shit, and it is just kind of sad.

I noticed, after seeing this film, I would describe it to others much like I described it to you, using other film’s references to make a point. And I believe that is the fatal flaw with this film. It doesn’t feel, despite its erratic editing and music that sounds like STP, like it has its own voice. It is a pastiche of punk cinema and Marilyn Manson music videos and Liam Lynch pre-internet creativity. It is boring to look at cause we have already seen it. It doesn’t shock. It is just weird.

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2007: Film’s Greatest Year

I’ve always enjoyed film. It’s a temporarily beautiful escape into worlds that are visions and dreams of artists and innovators. It’s why I started this website. So when I think about which years brought us the best movies, 2007 has to be at the top. The 26 films below average out to an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, and would actually be at an 84% if it were not for a couple of critical disappointments I happen to enjoy (they’re at 20% and 40%). The following list comprises my argument for why I feel 2007 is film’s greatest year.

January

Pan’s Labyrinth, Children of Men

Pan’s Labyrinth

When it comes down to it, this will be forever hailed as Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece. It’s haunting and gorgeous, and will tear your soul to shreds if you let it.

Children of Men

There is probably not a movie I have watched more in the last decade than this. Clive Owen is wonderful as Theo, but the real credit goes to director Alfonso Cuaron, the master of the ridiculously long takes as seen in Gravity.

March

Zodiac

Zodiac

David Fincher has made some really great movies, including Fight Club and Seven, but in my opinion, this is him at the top of his game. It’s an epic undertaking and one of the best true-crime films I’ve ever seen.

April

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Grindhouse, Hot Fuzz

Grindhouse

While one half of this fun double-feature isn’t exactly the greatest, Death Proof makes up for Planet Terror‘s faults. Kurt Russell is excellently campy and it’s a welcome addition to the Tarantino canon.

Hot Fuzz

I have a hard time deciding which of the Simon Pegg – Nick Frost films are my favorite, but Hot Fuzz is usually right up there at the top. The cast is excellent and the direction is razor sharp.

May

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28 Weeks Later

28 Weeks Later

This certainly is not as good as Danny Boyle’s original 28 Days Later, but it’s still an excellent zombie flick and Robert Carlyle is amazing in the heartbreaking starring role.

June

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Knocked Up, 1408, Live Free or Die Hard, Ratatouille

Knocked Up

I didn’t really like this movie when it first came out. With time, though, I’ve grown to appreciate it. I still find Heigl a bit insufferable, but the rest of the cast is funny as hell.

1408

Again, it took a while for me to appreciate this movie, but as far as Stephen King adaptations go, this one rises up toward the top. Cusack is pretty great, as well as Samuel L. Jackson.

Live Free or Die Hard

The theatrical cut of this was great, but if you can find the Unrated Cut, go for it. It’s violent and lives up to the R-Rated expectations of the first three classics.

Ratatouille

I’ve always been into the Toy Story movies, but Pixar failed to do much to pique my interest up until Ratatouille came out. It’s not only that Patton Oswalt is in it, but I loved the story so much. I watch this one pretty often.

July

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Rescue Dawn, Sunshine

Rescue Dawn

As familiar as we all are with Werner Herzog’s documentaries steeped in nihilism, he’s actually a damn good dramatic director as well. Bale’s physical decimation is horrifying to watch and Jeremy Davies is incredible as well.

Sunshine

Part 2001: A Space Odyssey, part Event Horizon, Danny Boyle’s sci-fi thriller is one of the better of the genre of the new century. Cillian Murphy is great and it’s written by Alex Garland, writer/director of 2015’s excellent Ex Machina.

August

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Hot Rod, Superbad, Death Sentence, Inland Empire

Hot Rod

While the critics hated this movie, the memorable lines and outlandish weirdness of The Lonely Island fellas shines through in this. Probably one of the funniest SNL films.

Superbad

This movie is funny every time I watch it. Cera and Hill’s relationship is absolutely heartwarming and the guest spots are pretty amazing.

Death Sentence

Sitting at a dismal 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, I feel the critics were sorely mistaken on this almost perfect revenge flick in which Kevin Bacon beats the living shit out of some gang members.

Inland Empire

While I still don’t know what the hell this movie is about, it’s an absolute nightmare put on film and one of the strangest trips I’ve ever taken. Laura Dern is wondrous and David Lynch has not made a stranger movie.

September

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3:10 to Yuma, Eastern Promises, The Darjeeling Limited

3:10 to Yuma

Yes, this is a remake. What we have here, though, is one of the best westerns of our new century. Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, and Ben Foster shine brightly and the cinematography is at times breathtaking.

Eastern Promises

If you saw A History of Violence, you probably had a lot to expect from Viggo Mortensen in Cronenberg’s follow-up. This movie is gritty as hell and probably one of the better gangster flicks I’ve ever seen.

The Darjeeling Limited

While this is not exactly my favorite Wes Anderson film, it’s grown more endearing with age. The way he presents India is like a painter’s palette, and the performances from Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman are mightily impressive.

October

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Michael Clayton, 30 Days of Night, Gone Baby Gone

Michael Clayton

Corporate espionage films are not normally one of my favorite genres. This one is a twisting thriller that is shot beautifully and features a great performance from Tom Wilkinson.

30 Days of Night

Not since The Thing has there been a more impressively violent and frightening horror film set against the inescapable backdrop of an arctic tundra. One of my favorite vampire films done just right.

Gone Baby Gone

With time, this depressing crime drama has become one of my favorite films ever. Ben Affleck directed his brother, this year’s expected Best Actor winner, Casey Affleck and it really is one the greatest Boston-area films.

November

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No Country for Old Men, The Mist

No Country for Old Men

Let’s not beat around the bush here. This one won Best Picture and for very good reason. It’s hard to say there is a better Coen Brothers film, but perhaps the most impressive part is taking Cormac McCarthy’s difficult source material and translating it to film.

The Mist

Another great film based on a Stephen King story. I didn’t like this movie until I watched it for the second time, but I have a few more times since. Check out the excellent black and white cut if you get a chance. It’s really fun.

December

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The Orphanage, There Will Be Blood

The Orphanage

Though Guillermo del Toro’s name is plastered all over releases of this film, J.A. Bayona actually directed this gorgeously depressing ghost story. Unless you’re terribly inhuman, the end will rip you apart.

There Will Be Blood

No film, in my opinion, is more important than this one. I really feel that this might be the Citizen Kane of this generation. Daniel Day Lewis is incredible, but it’s the story and the way that this movie is filmed that I think is most important.

Do you think a year in film was better than 2007? Let us know in the comments!

Nick Spanjer, Editor of CinemAbysmal

31 Days of Horror – ‘Scanners’

ironside

Scanners

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Starring: Stephen Lack and Michael Ironside

Review by CinemAbysmal

OK, so maybe this is not technically a horror movie in the classic sense. However, it is a David Cronenberg film so it’s unsettling enough at every turn that it feels like a horror movie. There are certainly parts that are horrifying; the infamous head explosion, for instance. Really though, this is just an intense movie all around. There isn’t a whole lot of dialogue, but Cronenberg lets the film breathe, not really punching everything up until the very end.

This is my first time seeing this movie. I know a lot of people reading this probably already have, but I just never got around to it. I really enjoy a lot of Cronenberg films, (ExistenzA History of ViolenceNaked Lunch, the list goes on and on), so I’m not sure why it took so long to watch it. After finishing, I really wish I watched it sooner. The effects (for 1981) are absolutely amazing and disgusting, the pacing is strange but in a way, beautiful and god dammit, Howard Shore’s score is haunting and perfect for the movie.

One complaint I must lodge, is the main character, Cameron’s (Stephen Lack) acting. It’s so unbearable to hear him speak, that you can’t help but feel disconnected from the story for a good portion of the film. His lines are hamfisted and even his most general of reactions are not even convincingly human. That’s alright though, because the fantastically vicious Michael Ironside is there to balance out the awfulness with his creepy villain, Darryl Revok. Ironside is incredible in this and really carries the movie all the way to the end.

Cronenberg is a weird dude. Maybe it’s because he’s deeply Canadian, but that’s alright with me. I dig the hell out of the Canadians. From The Kids in the Hall to Denis Villenueve to Ivan Reitman, some of my favorite works come out of that wonderfully beautiful country. And after watching Scanners, I’ll just have to add another one to that ever-growing list.