Antlers (2021) movie review
Antlers is a now horror film from director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro. Based on a short story by Nick Antosca, the film follows a teacher who becomes concerned with the disturbing behavior of one of her students regarding his father, younger brother, and the strange legend that has emerged in the small town in Oregon. The film was finally released this past weekend, thought to an underwhelming critical reception.
While Antlers could be a lesson in trying and failing to change up a formula, it stands out more as an entirely dull and drab film that spends over an hour to see the Del Toro creation that absolutely isn’t worth the wait. While the film might not make a bad rental, it doesn’t prove worth going out to see.
The key fault in the film lies in its story setup, which follows a teacher we don’t have attachment to and a child who we don’t have attachment to. We as the audience are given most of the information that the teacher doesn’t have early on, so following a character who is catching up to us is not a compelling subject. Similarly children are hard to empathize with, especially when the film is holding out on the gore until the final act. So we are left with not much to keep us interested…
Keri Russell delivers a passable leading performance, and Jeremy T. Thomas does a solid job playing a very reserved child dealing with a uniquely traumatic scenario. Jesse Plemons plays the town sheriff and brother of the protagonist, but the character could be played by literally anyone. And poor Graham Green enters so he can explain things to white people. As he has done more than a few times…
Which brings me to the most disappointing aspect of the film: the lore. Now the trailer does go into this a little bit, but if you really want to go see Antlers and you don’t want to know anything about it, fine. But also stop here.
So the film deals with a Wendigo as the primary horror focus, and while I won’t get too far into the lore, there is much more to it than that. That said, there aren’t many mainstream films that dig into the Wendigo lore. Ravenous (1999) digs into the themes a little actually… Regardless, what a waste to toss yet another horror creation based in another culture and toss it over to a mostly white cast for… reasons.
Antlers also tries to tell a story with important themes at its core, but slips-up when it comes to the aspect that is supposed to tie into the lore. I could see the writing working with a different theme, or simply more of it. For that matter, the story itself could have used more developing as well. Or less. The film doesn’t shoot for an A24 angle, but perhaps it could have benefited from it…
All this is to say that I didn’t enjoy Antlers. The film feels like an hour of nothing but muddy themes and a messy plot followed by a finale equal parts silly and visually terrifying. I will absolutely praise the film for the intended conclusion it reaches, but the road to get there never feels worth the drive… 4/10.
So Antlers? Did you see it? What did you think? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! Thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince