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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

Antibirth movie review: bad baby bad

Antibirth yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Dementedly creepy punk body-horror grossout comedy plays like a padded-out short. But Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny have a ball as cheerful wastrels.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): desperate for movies about women
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Somewhere just sideways of our world — like perhaps in the realm of Repo Man — perpetually wasted stoner chick Lou (Natasha Lyonne: The Intervention) wakes up one morning after a particularly weird night of partying and realizes that she’s pregnant. But not normal-pregnant: “I’m some kind of goddamn freak show,” she complains to her best friend and cheerful fellow wastrel Sadie (Chloë Sevigny: Zodiac), via what she declares “some weird immaculate conception shit.” (She hasn’t gotten laid in, like, forever, she swears.) And so this punk Canadian body-horror grossout comedy is off down a bizarre yellow-brick road of conspiracy theories about alien abductions, military experiments, seriously bad drugs, and a fetus that likes electric shocks and is growing way too damn fast. What the hell is Lou going to give birth to, and how soon? This first feature from video artist Danny Perez gives off a dementedly creepy vibe, and an audaciously original onetweet, too: the chipper way in which Perez offers up Lou and Sadie for our half-horrified, half-amused entertainment is, no joke, a blow for cinematic gender equality in the depiction of abject losers, and Lyonne and Sevigny are simply having a ball playing such delightful reprobatestweet. (Meg Tilly is a scream in a small role as a crazy lady who might have an explanation for Lou’s predicament.) But Perez’s vision — he wrote the film as well as directed — does feel a bit more like a man’s idea about pregnancy than a woman’s experience, and the whole shebang plays like a 30-minute short padded out to feature length. Still, Perez is clearly a filmmaker to watch.


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