Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan
Runtime: 1 hr 40 mins
Rating: NC16 (Violence and Horror)
Released By: Walt Disney Company
Opening Day: 28 October 2021
Synopsis: In ANTLERS, a small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, discover that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences.
To this reviewer, creature features are far more interesting than cheap horror flicks that mostly consist of supernatural ghostly beings in the dark. Excellent creature movies include Jaws, Predator, Alien and the recent A Quiet Place just to name a few. One name however stood out in Antlers and that is producer Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican director who has a life-long penchant for fantasy, horror and monsters.
This long-delayed horror creature movie marks Scott Cooper’s (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace) second horror feature after his little known, For Sale By Owner. While not exactly a shocking thrilling ride, Antlers is actually much better than you expect it to be.
In a small poor town in rural Oregon, an unseen creature attacked two men who are running an illegal meth lab. One of them survived the attack but there’s something eerily wrong with him. He is perhaps slowly turning into a sinister creature. Meanwhile, the teacher of his son, Julia Meadows (Keri Russell) is concerned for the boy’s welfare after witnessing his disturbed drawings and strange behavior. At the same time, Julia’s younger brother, Paul (Jesse Plemons) who happens to be the local Sherriff discovered gruesome carcasses in the woods.
There isn’t much of a big mystery as to what is happening if you watch enough horrors but Cooper knows how to play his cards close to his chest to keep the audiences engaged throughout the ordeal. There is a big revelation of a so-called legendary cannibalistic creature called wendigo towards the last act although we suspect the movie has some alternative meaningful messages about the environment, economy and native Americans. Then again, we are here to bask in some good old creature fun not Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
With obvious inputs from del Toro, the center of attention aka the monster is horrifyingly presented through compelling practical effects and CGI. There’s a couple of mild jump scares and chilling visuals which reminds one of del Toro’s earlier works, Mimic. In addition, the atmospheric shot is provided effortlessly by cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister which add a layer of creepiness to the background.
Besides the above-mentioned reasons, Antlers features all round, well-acted performances from Russell and Plemons. Even Jeremy T. Thomas who plays the boy, Lucas gave a heartbreaking performance. The obvious downside is the inclusion of themes such as family trauma and violence which are frequently injected into the story as flashbacks. The Meadows seem to suffer under the hands of an alcoholic, abusive father although frankly, it’s kind of weak and unnecessary to link it to Lucas. More could be done to the relationship between the siblings obviously but I suspect studios prefer the material to be focused on the scary folklore creature. In this case, Antlers is undoubtedly a winner.
(A solid horror creature flick if you don’t mind the slow burn)
Review by Linus Tee