Joshua Chaplinsky's Fantastic Fest Diary: ANTICHRIST
LARS VON TRIER'S ANTICHRIST
Lars Von Trier does not strike me as the type of man who takes well to the mocking of his work, no matter how affectionate or good natured. Nature, as we know, is Satan's church, at least according to the filmmaker's latest, so you would think he of all people would understand the situation brewing down in Texas. They say any publicity is good publicity, and word of mouth is spreading like an Epidemic (with a little e in a circle at the end,) Austin being the epicenter. Now that Fantastic Fest has wrapped, the infected are traveling home, to major cities around the world, and I wouldn't be surprised if this thing goes global. What with the internet, I'm expecting a meme yesterday. Maybe everyone is still catching up on sleep.
Or maybe it is an insular joke that will not survive outside the confines of the festival. I was not lucky enough to secure a full festival badge, so I arrived at the midway point. I cabbed it straight from the airport to the Alamo Drafthouse to meet my friends. After being introduced to a slew of new people in a whirlwind of salutations, talk immediately turned to movies. Having missed the screening, I wanted to know what people thought about Antichrist. Immediately, I was assaulted with a chorus of "Chaos Reigns" from the group of new acquaintances.
For those not in the know, the scene in question involves Willem Defoe, some super slow motion, and a talking fox. Having already seen and enjoyed Antichrist (let's just say it has received a DVD release in Poland and leave it at that) I found the scene to be moderately effective, if not a little silly. But maybe enjoyed isn't the right word. It is hard to "enjoy" a film containing the scenes which Antichrist contains. It is Von Trier's most polished film since Europa, and a good reminder of what a technically proficient director he can be when he wants. It is also a reminder of how capricious he is. It isn't exactly plot driven, but the elements are there for anyone willing to piece it together. That crafty little fox is one of them.
In the days that followed, the joke took on a life of its own. Pretty soon, Mondotees was doing a brisk business on "Chaos Reigns" t-shirts. Any time something bizarre or unexpected happened in a movie, someone shouted "Chaos Reigns." There were chants of it during the 100 Best Kills Party. Timecrimes director and clown-prince of the festival, Nacho Vigalondo, after pounding a container of XXX Texas Chili declared, "Chaos reigns in my stomach." I'm pretty sure chaos reigned in the bathroom later on as well.
The whole thing culminated during the screening of the final film (Daybreakers, if anyone cares.) After being turned away from the rush line a mere inches from the door, my friends and I sat down amongst the sulking nerds to plot our next move. Suddenly, a portly gentleman in black bikini briefs with a little tail sauntered by. He wore furry ears and painted on whiskers and was accompanied by a man wearing a kind of black death bird mask and cape. I didn't think much of it; there was also an Asian film playing and I figured it was some sort of Japanese Tanuki madness. It wasn't until the duo reappeared and started mugging for cameras, growling "Chaos Reigns" that it dawned on me.
Later on, someone who was at the screening filled us in. In lieu of a short, it was announced that some very special guests had arrived from a film that had already played, and they wanted to address the audience. The fox and the crow then proceeded to lead the audience in a rousing chant of "Chaos Reigns" while running up and down the aisles high-fiving everything in their path. It lasted a good 10 minutes.
If I were Von Trier, I would embrace this. Cute plush foxes that say Chaos Reigns when you pull the string would be a great promotional item. Rope 'em in with the cuteness, then hit 'em with the genital mutilation. If that doesn't work, he can always try distributing ball-smashing hammers and clit scissors.