Sweet Streams: “Antibirth”

IFC Films

Its not surprising that dystopian horror-comedies about immaculate conception don’t make huge waves in commercial movie theaters these days, but that didn’t stop writer-director Danny Perez from making his film, Antibirth. This film feels like it’s seeped in the kind of thick, viscous fluid of its title due to the bleary atmosphere and strange body horror theme, but for fans of genre cinema it’s a unique and funny film. Add to that the star power of its three female leads Natasha Lyonne, Chloe Sevigny and Meg Tilly, and kick ass soundtrack that includes Suicide and Eric Copeland, and I’d say Antibirth was one of the most slept-on films of 2016.

The film opens on a wild warehouse party where friends Lou (Lyonne) and Sadie (Sevigny) are dancing with feral abandon, until Lou falls ill and blacks out. Although medical tests keep insisting that she’s pregnant, Lou denies the possibility, arguing that she hasn’t had sex in a long time. That doesn’t stop her body from going through a slew of abnormal physical changes within a matter of weeks, from fever dreams to large blisters of pus developing on her feet, which forces her to investigate her inner circle to know what’s really going on (hint: government agents are involved).

On the side, Sadie’s skeevy drug pusher/pimp boyfriend Gabriel (Mark Webber) is testing an unknown, experimental drug on users before he can sell it on the black market, but the side effects seem too lethal. Meg Tilly comes in as a mysterious drifter named Lorna, who helps Lou uncover the truth behind her bizarre condition, and fidgets about her own visions as well.

This movie is the right kind of weird and surreal, but its Natasha Lyonne that makes it absolutely enjoyable. Currently known for playing the wisecracking junkie Nicky Nichols on Orange is the New Black, she’s perfectly cast here as a thrill-seeking party girl armed with a dry wit and dark sense of humor in the face of the strangest circumstances. Lyonne’s fun to watch, and Sevigny blends in well in this bleary corner of urban Michigan, but her storyline of trying to get custody of her kid feels way too underdeveloped and tacked on (in fact, I’ve seen this movie a couple of times and only on my latest viewing did I notice this layer of the plot at all).

Tilly is unsurprisingly adept at playing the almost-unhinged Lorna, and its funny to see her here since she also played a woman experiencing immaculate conception in Agnes of God. Between Tilly, Lyonne and Savigny, all three actresses have major indie movie cred between them, so their assembly here in Antibirth makes for an exceptional casting combination that complements the sickly, unsanitary vibe of the movie.

To get your bong-ripping, visceral, weirdo alien mood on, Antibirth is streaming on Netflix, as well as iTunes, Google Play and Vudu.

 

Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and frequently covers the Orange County DIY music scene, film, arts, Latino culture and currently pens the long-running column Trendzilla. Born, raised, and based in Santa Ana, she loves bad movies, punk shows, raising her plants, eating tacos, Selena, and puns.

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