Antibirth is a good old body horror movie. It’s got the suggestion of pregnancy, so you’re dealing with the undertones of a woman’s mixed feelings about her own capacity to give life, but if you don’t want to go there it’s really just gross as hell.
Lou (Natasha Lyonne) starts getting sick and the symptoms suggest pregnancy, but she hasn’t been with a man in eight months. Yet her stomach starts growing and she can’t figure out what’s going on. Her friend Sadie (Chloe Sevigny) assumes she did get pregnant and isn’t telling, but a mysterious stranger (Meg Tilly) believes her.
There are plenty of nasty secretion coming out of Lyonne’s body and her belly begins to protrude to a ridiculous, surreal degree. She pops an extreme blister in the Sundance tradition of Stoker, which opened with Mia Wasikowska popping a blister. Lyonne wins because her blister covers a lot more of her foot than Wasikowksa, like a lot.
Lou isn’t the only one suffering from gory effects. There’s some good face splatter when others try to help. The end result is one hell of a climax. It looks like a practical suit with some CGI enhancements and it totally works.
There’s some visual uncertainty in writer/director Danny Perez’s presentation. Lou does all the drugs (pot, coke, pills) so she is possibly unreliable. Her nightmare visions culminate in plushies from a children’s restaurant (off brand Chuck-E-Cheese but definitely not Chuck-E-Chees) probing her. The dealer Gabriel (Marc Webber) is a significant character too, and some of his junkie harem have some completely unrelated body horror going on to complement Lou’s.
Antibirth is simple in genre terms. It knows body horror and does it well. The mythology it reveals is clever, but I don’t want to spoil it. Perez’s style keeps everything nasty, but it’s fun to go on the nasty ride with him and this cast.