Sometimes I use movies as a gauge whether or not it’s going to work out between me and a romantic partner. Not because I’m trying to shock or offend, but because a lot of the films I love are representative of who I am. I know what you’re thinking, “But Anthony, you love Paris, Texas (1984), The Hidden Fortress (1958), and The Battle of Algiers (1966). Why not show those instead?” And you’re right. All three of those movies hold a special place in my heart. However, a two hour movie about a father trying to reconnect with his son with a lot of lengthy wide shots of the landscape are probably going to put someone to sleep on a second or third date—have to work up to those.
Antibirth, on the other hand, is a perfect representation of many of the things I love packed into a solid 94 minutes, and if you’re game for this retro love letter to the early films of David Cronenberg and J. Michael Muro’s cult classic Street Trash (1987) then I think we might have a bright future together.
Natasha Lyonne stars as Lou, a party hard, no-fucks-given woman that has no intention of slowing down any time soon…until she starts to realize that she might be pregnant. Without any memory of what’s happened, and joined by her closest friend Sadi (Chloë Sevigny) Lou tries to unravel the pregnancy mystery all while dealing with the horrific transformation that her body is undergoing.
Perhaps the best thing about Perez’s film is that it wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s not trying to be smarter than the audience and instead of playing it safe and being just a little weird, Perez goes balls-to-the wall bizarre. Lou’s dreams become maternal nightmares as three people in what I can only describe as the love children of Sasquatch and the Teletubbies prep her for surgery, and when Lou’s water finally breaks let’s just say you’ll need a hazmat suit to make it out alive—also, now I can say I’ve seen a movie where a woman (SPOILER) gives birth to a severed alien head, so suck it, Gozu.
My only issue with the movie is that certain parts of the narrative could have been clearer. The appearance of Lorna (Meg Tilly) seems to suggest that she knows what’s happening to Lou, but the movie doesn’t flesh this out enough to make her a real character, and in doing so she seems to only exist to counteract what a terrible friend Sadie becomes. There are also some weird editing choices that create gaps in the narrative, which left me a bit disoriented as to where we were in the plot.
That being said, the strength of the film is its punk rock approach to filmmaking. Antibirth isn’t interested in playing it safe. It wants to offend you. It wants to gross you out. And it doesn’t really seem to care what you think about it. It’s over there doing its thing in that abandoned graffiti-splattered building and I can’t wait to show it that future special someone.
Anthony Trevino is the author of the New Bizarro Author Series 2015-16 novella King Space Void published by Eraserhead Press, the horror comic Fruition, and also made an appearance in the True Detective tribute anthology Walk Hand in Hand into Extinctionfrom CLASH books.