Natasha Lyonne in Antibirth
ANTIBIRTH (Danny Perez). 94 minutes. Opens Friday (December 2). See listing. Rating: NNN
Horror movies are all about tone, and Antibirth has one I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered before. Danny Perez, in his first feature, finds the midpoint between a meth binge and a lucid dream; it’s slippery and sharp at once, always with the sense that something terrible is waiting just outside the frame.
Shot in wintry Sudbury but set in suburban Michigan, Antibirth stars Natasha Lyonne as Lou, a party girl who blacks out one night and wakes up the next morning to find herself inexplicably pregnant… and experiencing some very strange gestational effects.
Her immediate response is to get shit-faced again, which is our first clue that this will not be a conventional genre movie.
And indeed it’s not. For long stretches, I’m not even sure Antibirth qualifies as a genre movie at all. Lou crankily interrogates her circle of friends – first among them Chloë Sevigny’s Sadie, the only one who seems genuinely worried about her worsening health – and then expands her search, stumbling into all manner of weirdness, including a UFO cultist (Meg Tilly) and a sketchy dude (Mark Webber) who’s made some unfortunate facial-hair choices.
The film is messy. Perez can’t seem to decide whether to rip off David Lynch or John Waters in a given scene, and the Big Lebowski-esque pacing doesn’t quite suit the explosions of Cronenbergian body horror.
That said, I can imagine other people getting into its dozy, half-baked vibe, especially in moments when Lou is alone with her fears, and whatever else is going on inside her. When Lyonne drops the attitude and shows us the real person inside her character, Antibirth really feels like it’s onto something.