Detroit-set shocker 'Antibirth' explores the horror beneath American drug culture

Detroit-set shocker 'Antibirth' explores the horror beneath American drug culture, Detroit has provided a vivid backdrop to the terrific recent horror films “It Follows,” “Don’t Breathe” and “Only Lovers Left Alive,” but Michigan’s urban blight has never been as much of a malevolent character as it is in “Antibirth,” a queasy indie shocker about a young woman getting wasted in the American wastelands.

Stalwart cast labors earnestly in Meg Ryan-directed World War II drama 'Ithaca' 'The People Garden' falls in the forest and doesn't make a sound (or much of anything else) A Border Patrol drug bust goes awry in powerfully taut 'Transpecos' Tears and wry laughs fuel Chris Kelly's insightful 'Other People'

Detroit has provided a vivid backdrop to the terrific recent horror films “It Follows,” “Don’t Breathe” and “Only Lovers Left Alive,” but Michigan’s urban blight has never been as much of a malevolent character as it is in “Antibirth,” a queasy indie shocker about a young woman getting wasted in the American wastelands.

Natasha Lyonne stars as Lou, a rapidly aging party girl and motel maid, who spends most of her military benefits checks on the drugs she shares with her best friend Sadie (Chloë Sevigny). After one wild night, Lou wakes up with every symptom of pregnancy except the fetus, and gradually begins to suspect that something unnatural has been done to her.

“Antibirth” is more about setting and vibe than plot. Writer-director Danny Perez leans heavily on his superb cast (which also includes Meg Tilly as someone who may know what’s happening to Lou). He gets a lot of mileage especially from Lyonne’s woozy, eye-rolling reactions to her bizarre predicament.

The characters and performances keep “Antibirth” lively even when the story goes around in circles, stacking up scene after scene of Lou feeling freaky and not knowing why. Had the movie been just a little more thought through, it could have been a new classic.

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »

“Antibirth” is still quite good, though, with memorably surreal imagery and an abrasive texture that enhances Perez’s overall vision. As a portrait of a middle America full of forgotten people and ruined civilizations, this is one of the year’s scariest movies.

-------------

‘Antibirth’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood

related

'SNL' stars Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan frolic in run-of-the-mill 'Brother Nature' Nothing in the woeful drama 'Max Rose' will make the Jerry Lewis career-highlight reel Justin Tipping's nimble East Bay drama 'Kicks' is about a lot more than sneakers Grindhouse-style 'Happy Birthday' talks its sadistic head off Connections are elusive in the dreamy Cabo drama 'El Ganzo' 'The Green Fairy' is a groan-inducing fantasy nonfiction ode to absinthe What to do when Airbnb goes horribly wrong It's all in the family for Kevin Smith's sloppy horror-comedy 'Yoga Hosers' With horror flick 'Tell Me How I Die,' it will likely be from boredom Actor terrified me on and off set The need that keeps Pixies playing Horror master Sam Raimi recommends a scary film for fans: 'I dare you to watch it!' The charm — and bite — of 'Their Finest,' a seamless blend of comedy and drama Bodies swap and destinies change in the gorgeous animated Japanese blockbuster 'Your Name.' Screen treasures Alan Arkin, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman can't overcome the implausible in 'Going in Style' Chris Evans raises a young math prodigy in the clever but overly calculating 'Gifted' Anne Hathaway towers over the goofy monster-movie riff 'Colossal' Price of laughter in the Mideast made clear in 'Tickling Giants' John Legend is singing a new tune: virtual reality Hugh Jackman puts on the greatest show at CinemaCon What Patricia Arquette said that drove the audience wild at the GLAAD Media Awards STX will adapt 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' with Elton John