Wednesday, February 1, 2017

ANTIBIRTH (2016) (IFC Midnight Blu-ray Review)


Label: Scream Factory / IFC Midnight 
Release Date: February 7th 2017 
Region Code: A/1
Duration: 95 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1 with Optional English SDH Subtitles, Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Danny Perez 
Cast: Chloë Sevigny, Mark Webber, Meg Tilly, Natasha Lyonne

Antibirth (2016) is a movie dripping with drug addled imagery and loaded with a mind-fuck amount of sci-fi weirdness and visceral pregnancy paranoia. At the heart of the movie we have the thirty-something party girl Lou (Natasha Lyonne, American Pie), a scuzzy sort of woman who seems to live only to drink, rip bong hits, and do whatever drug she can find, anything to numb her to the reality of her grungy low-life existence. Her best friend Sadie (Chloë Sevigny, Gummo) is slightly more put together, and while she also enjoys the party lifestyle she does attempt to keep her wayward friend in line to a degree, but she has her own issues, such as her drug peddling/whore pimping boyfriend Gabriel (Mark Webber, Green Room)who will do just about anything for a buck. 

The movie opens at a party, The Gories lo-fi rocker "Feral" is blasting and Lou is already wasted. She blacks out during the rager and it seems something sinister happened to her during this lost time. The next day she feels green around the gills, and all signs point to a possible pregnancy. However, Lou insists she hasn't been laid in months, and with the threat of a pregnancy looming Lou steps up her smoking, drink and drug routine, seemingly trying to make her womb as unfriendly as possible to any sort of would-be life that might be manifesting down there. Lyonne as Lou is wonderful, while not a likable person she is funny in a caustic sort of way, it worked for me. She the sort of friend that probably stinks like chain-smoking hobo, a hard-living dirty woman, the sort of woman who would maybe offer to give you a blow job if you would just go to the pharmacy and buy her a pregnancy kit, which is an offer you would definitely refuse, she is a gross person, but entertaining enough that she might be fun to hang around with.  

As the movie rolls along as Lou drinks, snacks on 7-11 munchies, vomits and generally just gets fucked up, she's always got a smoke between her lips and a bottle of booze at her fingertips. She begins to show signs of an abnormally an swollen stomach, indicating the feared pregnancy, but there's nothing natural about this one, her body begins to change in some seriously Cronenberg-ian ways, replete with gooey blisters and veiny weirdness. The whole movie has a certain trashy aesthetic, imagine Harmony Korine (Gummo)channeling David Lynch (Eraserhead) through the white-trash filter of Rob Zombie (Lords of Salem), with a lots of strobe-light effects, hallucinatory nightmares and seizure inducing editing. Director Danny Perez is a visual guy, I like his style, which is good, because this movie is about ninety-percent style and ten-percent substance, but I can dig it. 

Meg Tilly (Psycho II) shows up as a disheveled nut-job named Lorna who seeks out the increasingly swollen Lou. Lorna may or may not know what's happening to the young woman, but she sort of seems to be there for a gore-gag towards the end of the movie,  with her character receiving an unpleasant vaginal blood-blast to the face from Lou, so it's got that going for it. It's a small role, but Tilly is always a welcome addition, and she does what she can with the material. 

Speaking of the cast, they're all very good. Lyonne, Sevigny,and Webber elevate the lackluster material, which is sort of dumb to be honest. The movie belongs to Lyonne though, she nails it, her drug-addled antics are reason enough to watch this movie.

Antibirth is light on substance I dig the wild visuals and lo-fi hallucinatory trip of the whole thing. Sure, it's 94-minutes of arthouse mindfuckery, but if the thought of bloody miscarriages in toilets, mangled-lipped pee freaks, drug-culture weirdness and seizure inducing funhouse visuals sound like a good time then Antibirth is definitely worth a watch. 

Audio/Video: Antibirth (2016) arrives on Blu-ray/DVD combo from the joint forces of Scream Factory and IFC Midnight looking vibrant, like a Rob Zombie version of a funhouse apocalypse, with loads of deeply saturated colors, the whole affair is very crisp, vibrant and sharp. Audio options on the Blu-ray include both DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0 and Surround 5.1, with optional English SDH subtitles. The surround is nicely mixed and features some cool atmospheric use of the surrounds, the lo-fi garage rock score featuring The Gories, Suicide, and Dead Moon among others, sounds terrific. 

Extras are a bit on the thin side, but on par with the other scream Factory/IFC Midnight releases. We get 3 minutes of the psychedelic shorts that are featured in the film, 10 minutes of storyboards and the trailer for the film, plus the usual Scream Factory /IFC Midnight trailer reel as the disc starts up. Packaging wise we get the standard blu-ray keepcase, a sleeve of reversible artwork, and the DVD and Blu-ray discs feature the two art options as well. 

Special Features:
- Psychedelic Shorts (3 min) HD 
- Storyboards (10 min) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 

Antibirth (2016) is a fun WTF movie, a caustic mash-up of conspiratorial sci-fi weirdness and depraved thirty something dirty livin'. It's an acquired taste, and that taste is along the lines of cinematic ashtrays and vomit, so bring a breath mint and dig into this vile slice of WTF-ery. Looking forward to what comes next from director Danny Perez, I love his style, and would like to see how that mixes with something with a bit more substance next time around. 3/5