Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: In an isolated Oregon town a middle-school teacher and her sheriff brother become embroiled with her enigmatic student, whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with an ancestral creature.
Review: Going into Antlers completely blind is something I highly recommend doing. I myself knew nothing about it and I came out of the experience better for it. It’s a slow burn of a story that stars Keri Russell (The Americans, Felicity) as Julia, a small town teacher who moves back home to live with her brother Paul played by Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad, The Irishman, Black Mirror episode USS Callister). She notices one of her young students, a boy named Lucas, looks like he might be suffering from neglect and abuse. And due to her own past traumas she decides to investigate what’s going on with his home life. Things of course take a turn for the deeply creepy and disturbing.
I don’t want to give much away here so I’ll just stick to the broad strokes. Jeremy T. Thomas as Lucas was pitch-perfect casting. Something about his features seem a bit otherworldly, and his small build makes him seem so fragile you want to hug him and tell him everything is going to be okay. His appearance is the perfect balance against what he’s facing as no child should have to deal with a literal monster living under his roof.
Director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Black Mass) takes his time building to the reveal with lots of dark spaces and empty rooms that sell that feeling of isolation and fear. It does take some time to get to the horrific aspects but when it does Antlers pull zero punches and the gore on display here (which all looked like practical effects) was very well done. The reveal of the creature and the way they chose to design it was refreshingly original and I just wish we could see more of it. But I’m guessing with a moderate budget on a film such as this one meant they went the smart route and kept most of it in the dark. But what you could see worked really well as the last 15 to 20 minutes was a non-stop horror fest.
If there’s any complaint I have here is this cast of insanely talented actors didn’t get to do much. Besides Russell and Plemons (who both have produced stellar work in the past) we have Amy Madigan (Gone Baby Gone, Field of Dreams) as the school principal, Graham Greene (The Green Mile, Dances with Wolves) as the retired sheriff and Rory Cochrane (Black Mass, Argo, Empire Records) as a deputy. All of these talented people are capable of so much more than they had to work with here and it’s a shame they felt more like guest stars than real additions to the story.
Still, Antlers is a solid film which utilises a very underused supernatural creature and the unconditional love of a young boy as an allegory for childhood abuse and neglect. It’s a shame they didn’t go further with it or maybe had a bigger budget to work with, but as it stands I would definitely recommend checking this one out.
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
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Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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