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Beyond Fest 2021 Review: ANTLERS

An intense folk horror drama comes to grim life.

by Jacob Davison
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The land has been poisoned. The people are toxic. The evils of the past and present intermingle.

A quiet town in Oregon is already the sight of immense woes. The mines shut down, drug addiction and deaths are high, and the children lack a clear future. This is evident to middle school teacher Julia Meadows (Keri Russell, Dark Skies) as she returns to her quaint hometown that is now worse for wear. Living with her brother and the local sheriff, Paul (Jesse Plemons, Game Night) while she tries to get her life together. Julia soon notices that her student Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas, Lore) acting increasingly disturbed and assumes there’s trouble at home with his unseen father and younger brother. Unaware that something is festering in the Weaver household… something hungry.

Image via IMDB

Directed by Scott Cooper who has previously directed thrillers such as Hostiles and Black Mass, his first foray into horror is a powerful one with a heavy and dramatic foundation based in fears that are all too real and currently relevant. The cinematography is beautiful contrasting nature with a town on hard times and corrupted by rust and decay. The line for a local rehab clinic is longer than the one for the diner next door. There’s a sense of hopelessness about the children and especially Lucas. The acting is phenomenal and it was intense trying to gauge what exactly was going through Lucas’ head as he dealt with his horrific predicament. He loves his father and little brother and he keeps them fed… and locked up. But just how far is he willing to go for the ones he loves? As well, Russell and Plemons made for a dynamic lead with sibling interactions that felt real and grounded.

Being produced by Guillermo del Toro, there is of course a monster and one that is a sight to behold! The central creature being an almost parasitic like variation of The Wendigo of indigenous lore. Infecting and inhabiting the Weaver patriarch and rotting him out like a cancer as it evolves into far more terrifying forms in a brilliant hybrid of practical and computer generated effects. The titular Antlers put to good and gory use and on full display, obscuring the facial features of the entity. I wish we could have seen more of it, but when it shows up, it’s always a memorable and terrifying scene.

Image via IMDB

The dramatic human storylines and the monstrous supernatural horror mesh okay, though there are times when they feel too separate as arcs in the same film. But when they do collide, it makes for some of the best scares of the movie! So, if you’re expecting it to be a pure monsterfest, there’s a lot of grounded drama in the build-up before we truly see the Wendigo wreak unholy havoc. That aside, it is a solid pressure cooker of a horror movie which slowly builds to the inevitable creature carnage and compounds the social terror building up to it.

Image via IMDB

Being a helix of fears all too real with one nightmarish spiritual monster, Antlers is an interesting horror movie that grabs your attention and is well worth watching.

Antlers will be released in theaters October 29th, 2021

 

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