This supernatural horror film becomes scarier and deeper than you’d expect.
The more “Antlers” got delayed, the less anticipated I became. Like most movies, it was supposed to come out last year, but it got delayed, because of the outbreak, and then, it finally got a release date. That’s when the anticipation begins to sink, or does it?
When I’ve heard some good things about it and finally saw it in a movie theater, I was nearly taken away. It’s a supernatural horror movie that turns out to be more than meets the eye. It’s not just a monster movie about a creature that grows antlers, but it also tests the very limits of what else it can do besides slaughter people.
The story, based on Nick Antosca’s short story “The Quiet Boy,” involves a 12-year-old boy named Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas), who lives in what looks like an abandoned house in Oregon, and brings home dead animals for something that lives in his attic. Lucas turns out to be more human than I expected, because he eats like a human, he talks like a human, and he’s smart for his age. But even he has to deal with a bully or two every now and then.
Keri Russell plays his teacher Julia Meadows, who becomes suspicious about his recent living situation, while trying to escape from her dark past. Jesse Plemons is her local sheriff brother Paul, who tells her not to get in too deep. Amy Madigan plays the principal, who investigates the boy’s house, and that’s when she accidentally unleashes the real terror. And Graham Greene plays the local native, who knows about the myth of the creature that lurks about.
“Antlers” was co-written directed by Scott Cooper, in his first movie since “Hostiles,” and it was also produced by Guillermo del Toro. With help from Antosca and co-writer C. Henry Chaisson, they’ve developed a horror movie that keeps you involved from beginning to end. Even if some characters have to be immediately eaten with very little basis, you’re still interested in the three leads: Russell, Plemons, and Thomas.
Russell is exceptional in the ways she struggles to fight the convictions of her past, while saving this boy’s future. Plemons has the right kind of tone and balance as her sheriff brother. And Thomas has the goods to thrive on the independent movie kid genre by proving he can use his words wisely. Matter of fact, none of these three actors have to deal with such irritating cliches and generic rules. They have their own challenges to overcome.
The cinematography by Florian Hoffmeister makes “Antlers” look dark and riveting at night, while in cloudy areas, it sets a creepy tone. And that also applies for the mines that the story eases us into. There’s a whole lot more to them than how I’m describing, unless you want me to spoil anything. I admire horror films for their looks, stories, and tones.
When I posted my review of “Last Night in Soho” on Facebook, I got a comment from someone, who called me stupid for liking it better than “Halloween Kills.” Let me inform you loyal readers that you are entitled to your own opinions, but insults and name-calling will not be tolerated. If you want me to respect your opinion of the movie, then you should do the same with my opinions.
Besides “Halloween Kills” was a missed opportunity compared to both “Last Night in Soho” and now “Antlers.” They both have characters, patience, real chills, and true natures that allows us to be absorbed and entertained simultaneously. Be grateful, and see them.