Well, let me preface this by saying that I have just as much appreciation for micro-budget horror films as anyone can have. I worked at Troma and furthermore I watched A LOT of the films that people submitted to the company for acquisition. I love the genre and have a pretty high margin of forgiveness for the suspension of disbelief you need to have to watch one.
American Antichrist, the latest film from Dakota Ray, definitely falls into the micro-budget category. The production values for the scale in which he is working are pretty spot on. He has a good mastery of locations, art direction, and directing non-actors in some believable performances. Beyond that, however, I really was not a fan. I felt like this movie is a great movie for people who listen to thousands of hours of death metal and actually might start to believe that they’re the Antichrist themselves, which seems to be the case for Dakota Ray, who also stars in the film as the Antichrist.
“OKAY WE GET IT, YOU’RE SOME DARK MYSTERIOUS METAL GUY, AWESOME!”
There was a lot of imagery that could definitely be deemed sacrilegious, such as puking on a crucifix, eating part of and then stepping on the rest of an angel, setting fire to a sign of the ten commandments, but at some point I was practically screaming “OKAY WE GET IT, YOU’RE SOME DARK MYSTERIOUS METAL GUY, AWESOME!” It just gets to be a little too much. There is an interesting vignette entitled “The Beauty of Sin” which features an extremely devout Catholic who goes around killing homeless people because he believes they’re sinners and he’s doing “The Lord’s work.”
That vignette makes up for another one that has some pretty misogynistic undertones. There’s a girl named Crystal (Meg Lacie Brown) who just broke out of a drug rehab clinic, and she says that she’ll do “anything” for her next fix. This includes having sex with a cross-dressing drug dealer named Chris, who before Crystal called, was about to masturbate to a video of a woman being hanged. Crystal has sex with Chris for heroin and then he lies to her and sends her off to the guy who makes the torture porn videos he was watching before she arrives.
“…has potential to do something genuinely transgressive and provocative…”
I think maybe that there’s some kind of underlying message in some of these extremely fucked up scenarios. Ray said in a YouTube video answering questions about American Antichrist that he’s talking about the evils of the world, whether they be religion or drugs. So maybe this is some extreme metaphorical work that I just can’t take seriously. It reminds me of something that I probably would have loved if I was 16 because it’s extremely contrarian, but it seems as though it’s on purpose. I think that this film has an audience in angry teens and I don’t know, Juggalos and people who love black metal. I’m not talking shit about those people when I say that. I’m saying: This movie is for you and DEFINITELY not for me.
Something positive I can say about Dakota Ray as a filmmaker is that after seeing American Antichrist, I now want to watch the rest of his movies to see if I actually like them. I think he has the potential to do something genuinely transgressive and provocative, but I just don’t think he’s there yet. I’m willing to see if it does happen, though.
American AntiChrist (2018) Written and Directed by Dakota Ray. Starring Dakota Ray, Larry Bay, Nick Benning, Meg Lacie Brown, and Damien Rimmon.
4 out of 10 Stars