Antlers: Film Review

Searchlight Pictures

After suffering multiple delays as a result of the pandemic, the Keri Russell-led creature feature Antlers finally comes to cinemas in time for Halloween.

Russell plays Julia Meadows, who has recently returned to her small hometown in Oregon to live with her brother, local sheriff Paul (Jesse Plemons), following the death of their abusive father. As the new teacher in school, she becomes concerned about her student Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas), who is pale, dirty and worryingly thin, all warning signs of abuse, and she sets out to investigate his home situation – little does she know that he’s hiding a supernatural creature in his house.

Scott Cooper creates a dark, moody and ominous atmosphere filled with plenty of tension and a sense of foreboding. It isn’t particularly scary but there are some gruesome body horror moments (one scene especially grossed me out), bloody and violent kills and the creature is ugly and horrifying. It’s often the case that a creature is scarier when you don’t know what it looks like as your imagination runs away with you so thankfully this beast – based on the mythological creature wendigo – wasn’t revealed in its entirety until the end as it immediately lost its impact.

The set-up is very promising and I liked how the story gradually unravelled and we learned more about Julia and Paul’s past and the trauma she’s been through as well as the creature in Lucas’ house. It didn’t lay all its cards on the table at once and it was intriguing. However, the film didn’t tie all the threads together in a satisfying way and I came away from it feeling pretty meh.

Russell gives a strong performance as an abuse survivor who is haunted by her memories after returning to her childhood home and finds a project to focus her mind on. She sees herself in Lucas and has this fearless determination to protect him in the way she wasn’t. Plemons was simply fine as the sheriff flummoxed by the unusual and gory deaths in his small town. We know that he’s capable of so much more than this so it’s a shame it’s such a snoozy role for him. It’s hard to say whether it’s his performance, the material or a combination of both.

Antlers is produced by Guillermo del Toro – a pro at the creature feature – and you can’t help but wonder what the project would have been like in his hands.

In cinemas Friday 29th October

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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