After many delays, Searchlight Pictures “Antlers”, finally arrives in cinemas in time for Halloween. This monster horror is set in a small mining town in Oregon, where deep inside the earth, a mysterious creature is released into the world.
It’s when a school teacher called Julia, played by Keri Russell) notices that something isn’t right with one of her students and suspects Lucas is being abused, things start to unravel. As Lucas is hiding a secret in his house, one Julia is desperate to uncover, but it has dangerous consequences; once the secret is out, it has dangerous consequences. As once, half-eaten bodies start being discovered around the town, setting off a police investigation by Julia’s brother, who is the local sheriff.
I’m not generally a huge fan of horror movies. They aren’t usually what I choose to watch. So I went into “Antlers”, not expecting too much, but I think that worked in my favour. I really enjoyed it, because it’s been a while since I’ve watched something like this. It felt refreshing to me. This film is full of traditional horror style stereotypes. The dark and gritty locations, with rooms that you are screaming at the screen, don’t go in there! Why are you going in there? Even though you know something’s coming. Eventually, something horrible comes out and scares you. No matter how much you’re expecting it, you still jump. And there were a few moments in “Antlers” I did jump when something scary happened. I knew it was coming, but it still got me! Though I imagine some horror fans might prefer a few more jump scares, but for me, this had the right amount.
“Antlers” does a great job of teasing what’s happening, without showing you too much. Little glimpses here and there. Little noises to spook you. Plus some really horrible gory moments, which are pretty disgusting. It caught my attention, and while you knew roughly what was going to happen, I still think it did an excellent job in building that suspense.
Childhood abuse plays a big part in the overall story. Throughout the movie, we get some glimpses into the past of what happened to Julia and her brother, we know they had a rough childhood, and there was abuse, which resulted in Julia running away to Los Angeles for 20 years. They lay the foundation that Julia and her brother are both abuse survivors, making them much more sympathetic, but in reality, it didn’t have much difference to the overall story. She could have just been a well-meaning teacher, and it wouldn’t have made much difference.
It’s also the abuse that Lucas is suffering from that is so painful to watch. The child looks like you just want to pick him up, give him a good meal, a bath and a cuddle. This is why this story works so well. He’s just looking after his family and seeing him setting traps to capture animals for food, to provide for them. It’s heartbreaking.
Guillermo del Toro is a producer on this film, which was one of the reasons I was interested in “Antlers”. I’ve enjoyed many of the projects he’s helped create over the years, including “The Shape Of Water”, “Hellboy”, and “The Strain”. Those projects are much larger in scope and much more visual than “Antlers”, which is much more subtle in how it presents the mythical creature. I imagine that had Guillermo del Toro directed it himself, it might have had a larger budget, to create a bigger and nastier monster, but when you do see finally see it, it’s still very satisfying, as the special effects are pretty good for a film of this budget. There were many moments in this film that it reminded me of how “Alien” was so fantastic, because it showed you just enough to tease you, with one big epic fight to end it all.
“Antlers” is a delightful monster horror movie. There isn’t anything in here that’s that unique, but it did exactly what you’d want from a horror film. It’ll pull you in, make you jump, leave you with some nasty images and leave you wanting a little more. It’s got a slow pace, that keeps you on the edge of your seat, then delivers some nasty grotesque scenes. But it also feels like it never moves to that next level. It’s a very enjoyable horror film, but there isn’t anything groundbreaking to make this feel anything more than average. It’s delivered exactly what I was expecting. The locations looked terrific, the characters are flawed, and the monster is terrifying. It was a solid horror film that didn’t disappoint.
Rating – 3.5 out of 5
“Antlers” is coming exclusively to cinemas on Friday 29th October 2021. The film will be available on Disney+ in many countries, including the UK, Canada and Australia, at a later date.
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.