That time in a woman’s life where her body goes through various mental, emotional, and physical changes. All this torture to birth another human, who will later turn around and suck the life and sanity right out of her.
Or, is that when it’s inhuman?
Regularly wasted Lou (Natasha Lyonne) begins to show symptoms of pregnancy after a night of hearty partying in small town Michigan with her friend Sadie (Chloë Sevigny), Sadie’s drug-dealing, bowling alley lady-pimping boyfriend, Gabriel (Mark Webber), and his worried accomplice, Warren (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos). Left with little memory of the night, Lou copes the only way she knows how: booze, drugs, chain smoking and sarcasm. Sadie expresses some concern for her friend, however, Lou’s not entirely convinced she is pregnant. Insisting it has been far too long since she’s had sex and even a blackout wouldn’t stop her from knowing she did the deed. She’d eventually remember… right?
When she isn’t calling out, Lou’s ambitious-less, squater-style life has her working at a small motel, half-assing her way through housekeeping. Starting her shift with snorting a line and a bite or two of overnight trash pizza, Lou’s cleaning is brought to a halt with vomiting while suffering through hallucinatory flashbacks, mixing in with reality. Those blips of reality being mysterious loner, Lorna (Meg Tilly), who returned to the room for something that was left behind, only to discover Lou on the bathroom floor.
There’s no more denying the truth. The positive sign that appears on the pregnancy test shows she’s going to be a mama.
With her skin peeling off, rapidly expanding waist, bloody nipples and three day naps, Lou begins to have bizarre dreams that begin to test her psyche (I’m talking, gyno assisting Teletubbies rejects). So, when Lorna surprisingly appears at her doorstep, Lou listens to what she has to say and goes searching for the truth to what happened the night she got knocked up. What and who is behind this frightening, seemingly immaculate conception?
Satan’s child? Alien conspiracy? Government involvement? Really bad drugs?
The truth is stranger than I had anticipated.
Written and directed by Danny Perez, Antibirth is – without a doubt – a slow building film, but it works. You become engrossed in the combination of vivid, surreal imagery layered atop a glum, slummy scenery, mixed in with an eclectic and appropriately chosen soundtrack and some old-fashioned body horror. The question of “Where the hell are they going with this?” surfaces a few times, and even though the ending doesn’t feel completely finished, it does a pretty good job providing the answer.
The acting is mostly on point, with each character convincing you they are so detestable, they are almost likeable. (How does that even make sense?!) Some had a few bumps that eventually evened out, but Natasha Lyonne does a fantastic job bringing you the pain, anger, annoyances, and other levels of pregnancy that one would only hope to never experience. Of course, this could also be a slightly biased opinion on my part.
Is Antibirth perfect? No. Does it rank up there with the likes of Cronenberg? Eh…Close. Would I consider this a horror? Not really. Is it entertaining? Hell Yes. If I had some crazy rating system, I would probably go for something along the line of 8 toilet fetuses out of 10.
Antibirth isn’t playing everywhere, so if you cannot find a theater near you with a showtime, check out Amazon Video for rental.
Directed By: Danny Perez
Written By: Danny Perez
Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, Meg Tilly, Mark Webber, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, Neville Edwards
Distributed By: IFC Midnight