FTP: Antibirth (2016)

FEBRUARY 26, 2023


At some point I will try to go back through all of the posts tagged "Weird" and change them (when appropriate, some are just weird!) to "Body Horror", a term I didn't really know when I started this site all those moons ago. I'll kick things off with Antibirth, because it's a fitting place to start being that it's a David Cronenberg wannabe from the '10s, a point when the sub-genre made a comeback of sorts, with Cronenberg's own son even diving into these relatively rare waters. It's probably very easy for someone smarter to me to draw a correlation to people not feeling in control of their bodies in horror movies and people (women) being told what to do with their bodies in the real world thanks to the rise of a certain political party at that time, if they haven't already, but I'll just stick to the movie for now.

I actually saw this one before, right around when it hit Blu-ray, thanks to my now former job as a Netflix tagger (a job I got thanks to this very site! They were looking for someone who wouldn't mind watching a lot of horror movies and... well, duh). Since my own memory is far too poor to remember much*, I looked at my old tweets from the time and saw that I basically hated it except for the last ten minutes, so it's easy to see why I didn't bother reviewing it at the time. But as is often the case with any movie I have that kind of reaction to, I wanted to give it another chance (I very rarely hate a movie, especially nowadays as I'm usually just happy to have the time to watch one), and kept the Blu-ray when it arrived for review from Scream Factory, back when they used to send me things unprompted. Ah, the good old days...

Anyway, I'm sure I didn't think it'd take six years to finally give it that second chance, but it worked out in the movie's favor. I still didn't LIKE it all that much, but it wasn't hateable - just more of a "not for me" kind of thing. I know people absolutely worship the ground Natasha Lyonne walks on, but - with all due respect to whatever I may have missed - she always seems to be playing a variation on the same character to me, and it gets a little boring, even when she's (spoiler) impregnated with an alien fetus, as is the case here. There's actually a pretty funny/inventive explanation for why she's chosen by the villains to be the host, but that's in the movie's literal final scene, and until that point it's just 80 minutes of her being sardonic and dirtbaggy.

And that'd be fine if she was the outlier, but everyone in the movie is sardonic and dirtbaggy, so it gets very tiresome. The lone exception is Meg Tilly (hi!) as a mysterious woman who doesn't always make a lot of sense but seems to be protective of her, providing the movie with its fleeting moments of genuine humanity. Again, I'm not saying any of this automatically makes it a BAD MOVIE - it's well made, doles out the body horror stuff when required, etc. - it's just not my cuppa. I suppose I could offer the genuine criticism that the ending of the movie feels like what could have been the end of act two, as I was never more engaged by what might happen next than I was in the film's final moments, but it's hard to judge that sort of thing when it's just not been doing it for me throughout. It'd be like if the bonus hidden track on an album was my favorite one, or something like that - it's very possible/likely that the target audience for this stuff (presumably, Lyonne's fans who want a nearly unbroken 90 minutes of her doing her thing) found it perfect.

So I'm glad I gave it another shot, because I softened a bit on it and now if someone says they love Poker Face and want to see her in something else, I can be like "Oh hey watch this weird movie, she's in almost every scene" instead of "Well, definitely avoid this thing!" And it was mildly amusing to have flashbacks to that Netflix job, where I had to track things like profanity, smoking, drugs, etc and all of them are in abundance here, which means it was probably one of the more colorful forms I filled out over those few years. Sometimes I'd watch a "slow burn" kind of movie with almost absolutely nothing worth noting, and I'd worry that my form would look incomplete, so these ones where I was checking off "Yes, extremely" for so many categories were kind of a blessing. I miss that weird job!

What say you?

*Last week I watched The Booth, which was one of my cheap Big Lots acquisitions, and started planning a FTP review. As I often do, I looked at the film's IMDb page as part of the prep, and saw the director also made the original Dark Water, which got me thinking that I knew I saw/reviewed the remake, but couldn't remember if I had ever seen the original. So I looked it up on here, and couldn't find a review, but I DID find one for... The Booth. Watched the entire movie, even had some of the same observations in mind to write (that it would have been a better Tales from the Crypt episode), and never once did it jog my memory that I had seen it before. Scary stuff, man.


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