Even if you haven't seen Von Trier's Antichrist
, if you know anything about it, you probably already have an opinion about it.
Von Trier has been pretty up front about the influences on this movie. He dedicated the movie as a whole to Tarkovsky, but he's also mentioned Stephen King movies and Japanese horror in a few interviews. These are the movies I think are most directly related to this controversial film. There may be minor spoilers here, so I'd recommend watching the movie before reading my comments, but I would't advise against watching any of these films before Antichrist:
His Own WorkZentropa/Europa
- A few of Von Trier's early films included hypnosis as a motif and the scene from Antichrist where the therapist hypnotizes his wife on a train is a direct reference to this movie about a post WWII train conductor shot mostly in B&W and featuring an extended narration by Max Von Sydow as a hypnotist guiding the viewer through the narrative. Most of Dafoe's lines in the scene come straight from this narration. The stylish B&W sequences at the beginning of Antichrist also have more in common with these early pre-Dogme films than his more recent works.The Kingdom
- This horror series was set in a hospital and was like ER crossed with Amityville. This shares a major theme with Antichrist about the futility of trying to suppress natural and mystical forces with science and logic. I have to say I find it ironic placing two Stephen King movies later in this list because he was responsible for a lackluster remake of this series for american TV.
- An actress travels to a remote seaside cabin with a nurse to work out a personal crisis where she has decided to stop speaking. They explore themes of regret over the Nurse's past abortion and the actress's ambivalence to her own child as they occasionally engage in emotional and violent outbursts. Hour of the Wolf
- An artist and his pregnant wife live alone in a cabin by the sea, the man has constant visions of nonexistent people but as the film progresses the wife begins to become infected by his delusions. This movie has a lot in common with The Shining.
Western HorrorDon't Look Now
- This Nicholas Roeg movie is about a couple living in Venice whose attempts to deal with the loss of their child lead to an unexpectedly violent end. The ending has become pretty famous, but if you get to see it without spoilers, it can be quite a shock.The Shining
- A couple with a child in a remote hotel -- the novelist father attempts to write but goes insane from delusions and visions of ghosts haunting the hotel. This mostly comes into play in the scene where the husband finds the writing journal in the attic that details his wife's earlier decline. It's a huge turning point in the film, but nearly identical to the scene where Shelly Duvall finally reads her husband's "novel" he's been working on.Misery
- The influence of this one is fairly minor, but the famous hobbling scene in Misery is similar to what Gainsbourg's character does to Dafoe with a sharpening stone and a Hand Drill.
Japanese Horror Ringu
- While Antichrist has nothing to do with haunted videotapes, Von Trier captures Nakata's murky atmosphere in many of the scenes in the woods around the cabin.The Audition
- What starts out looking like a harmless tale of romance takes a sharp turn into horror and overwhelming sadism. While all of the movies listed here contribute to huge parts of Von Trier's film, there isn't a single one that comes as close in shock value.
Tarkovsky The Mirror
- An amazing work of visual poetry about a man's deathbed memories of his life and relationships. Much of his youth takes place in a rustic cabin in a grassy landscape that looks almost identical to the cabin in Von Trier's film.Stalker
- Stalker is about a mercenary guide that takes customers into a "Zone" where nature itself has become dangerous. Even moving a few feet can be deadly in this environment and every step must be cautious and deliberate. There is one scene specifically referencing Stalker: where the couple "plays a game" in the yard where the woman has difficulty making it from one stack of stones to another.