Pregnancy in horror dates way back, it’s a trope that exploits a very real fear in people—it’s also a go to for the genre when it’s looking for an excuse to turn a few stomachs. It’s that idea of terror in the womb that can give a horror film a razor sharp edge, so it’s not at all surprising to see filmmakers regularly taking advantage of it. Danny Perez’s Antibirth explores similar ground, only injecting it with a sleazy atmosphere and twisted humor. In it, Lou wakes up after a wild night of partying with symptoms of a strange illness and recurring visions as she struggles to get a grip on reality while stories of conspiracy spread.
While I appreciate the uniqueness of Antibirth—it exists in a vibrant and twisted little world with a great protagonist—it’s unfortunately all style over substance. But what’s immediately distinct about the film is that it’s not your typical gravid-fueled slice of horror, either, and that’s thanks to Lou with her give-no-shits attitude and trashy lifestyle. She’s the last person fit to carry a child—unwilling to give up the drugs and alcohol—but that’s also what draws you into the film because we’re not used to seeing a character like her (hilarious and batshit crazy) in a horror film about pregnancy. But even Lou, as wonderfully insane as she is, isn’t enough to keep the film on its feet. A big part of that is because the narrative itself never develops a strong enough plot for her to flourish in—a real shame because Lou is a genuinely fun character.
That lack of story, or one that ultimately feels aimless, is the reason why Antibirth never quite comes together. It meanders for almost the entire movie, biding its time until the last act where we finally see a shred of plot. And while the last 15 minutes are made up of some of the weirdest, most insane shit I’ve seen in a movie this year, it’s all undone by everything that came before it—there’s no meaningful build up and it lessens the impact of the film’s final moments.
Antibirth is this slow-burning, trippy little film infused with dark humor and a great character. What it’s missing, however, is an engaging story that ties it all together; it’s an unfortunate misstep, especially because the film tries to explore familiar territory with a twisted grin. I think its absurd brand of horror will be appealing to some, even more so to those who dig a bit of what-the-fuck in their movies, which is something Antibirth undoubtedly satisfies in its final moments.