With a Toronto premier during the 2016 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Antibirth caused quite a stir, not only because Natasha Lyonne’s attendance at the After Dark screening, but for the psychedelic film experience.
Lou (Lyonne) is a rough and tumble party girl, with a permanent all-access pass to the closest after-hours, a bong permanently attached to her face and a whiskey IV drip. At one such gathering, she blacks out and when she starts to feel ill the following day, she suspects she may be pregnant even though she hasn’t had a sex partner in months. She enlists her friend Sadie (Chloë Sevigny) to help recover her memory, but when she encounters a mysterious woman called Lorna (Meg Tilly) who has “interdimensional street smarts”, things start to get really weird as a bizarre chain of events leads her to the gruesome truth.
Filmed in Sudbury, Ontario, Antibirth is touted as a punk-rock Rosemary’s Baby, but I’d rather like to call it “Trailer Trash Baby” with a dash of Repo Man. It’s certainly raw and gritty with characters exuding varying degrees of sleaziness as well as weird visuals and TV clips. Look out for the Funzone bowling alley commercial-it’s a thing of nightmares. Director Danny Perez creates a retro 70’s feel with sets and wardrobe that gives the film a pseudo-grind house/psychedelic feel. Add an electronic/punk/rock scoring and you have a mix of style and genre that keeps you guessing.
This surrealist assault on the senses is a fun albeit weird watch due to Lyonne’s charmingly abrasive portrayal of Lou. She’s a ramped up version of something we’ve seen before from her, but that’s ok because the character wouldn’t hold our attention otherwise and this story couldn’t be told without her. Combined with Tilly, they make a good combo on screen. Their experiences make the “normal” world look surreal as Lorna enlightens Lou to what is really going on. From there on in, crazy isn’t so crazy after all. There is also a body horror gore aspect that is hard to miss (and watch) with Lou realizing that her body is transforming in the most disturbing ways. Needless to say, eating your lunch while viewing Antibirth is not recommended.
If you’re looking for a weird mishmash of genres with a conspiracy bent, check out Antibirth. The bizarre and climactic payoff is well worth it.