Harry Situation Reviews: Antlers
Happy Halloween everyone!
Antlers is a new supernatural horror film starring Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, and Graham Greene. The film is based on the short story “The Quiet Boy” by writer Nick Antosca (who also helped write the screenplay). It was also directed by Scott Cooper and produced by Guillermo Del Toro.
The story follows a middle school teacher (played by Keri Russell) who becomes concerned with the health and mental wellbeing of one of her students, a boy named Lucas (played by Jeremy Thomas). Her concerns are correct when she and her brother, the town’s sheriff (played by Jesse Plemons), learn that Lucas is caring for a supernatural monstrosity that has taken hold over his family.
This film was another unfortunate victim of the COVID-19 fallout, having been pushed back to this year only to be finally released over the weekend. But hey, they picked a good weekend to release it. Halloween weekend. I can’t think of any better time. So let’s talk about Antlers.
The cinematography is great. The lighting, the atmosphere, the overall dark and eerie tone. There’s a bunch of fog and overcast in this small Oregon town. It all looks fantastic. It’s one of the best looking horror films to date.
The cast is great too. Keri Russell is fantastic in this movie. As a teacher trying to overcome her own personal trauma and demons you really feel for her. Jesse Plemons is great as her brother. Hard to believe that this guy is the same person that played that shithead Todd from Breaking Bad, right? But he’s great as the sheriff who is a little skeptic on all that is happening but doesn’t complete shut out the possibility that their is some kind of supernatural creature. And Jeremy Thomas was also good too. I’m sure this is his first film role and he does a great job portraying this kid who is so broken inside because he has to take care of what’s left of his family while they’re transforming into monsters.
Speaking of monsters, let’s talk about the main monster in this film. If you’ve seen the trailers, or can make an assumption based on the title, you probably already put together that the monster in question is indeed the wendigo, a Native American legendary monster that is born from cannibalism. I love the Wendigo monster. I love how it is a cautionary tale about greed and hording, its Algonquian origins, and the fact that this monster is big in my home state of Minnesota. Growing up I’ve heard stories of the wendigo. Hell, it especially impacts me since I have some Native American heritage. I’m currently using the Wendigo as one of the main monsters in a homebrew Call of Cthulhu campaign. I am so happy that the wendigo was used in this film because while it has a stay in pop culture it doesn’t get as much attention as other monsters like vampires and werewolves.
The wendigo is used sparingly in this film. Only showing it once in a while, building up it’s appearance. You only see it in its initial stage with Lucas’ father slowly undergoing the transformation. When the transformation is complete it looks amazing. This is the best looking wendigo I’ve seen in any medium. And it delivers some genuine good scares. There were scenes when this thing appeared that made me jump out of my seat.
I also like how bleak this film is. I mean it. This film does a good job showing how depressed everyone truly is. For starters, we have Lucas who is trying so hard to care for his worsening family while living in a shitty home that probably doesn’t have any heat or electricity, has hinted he’s been abused by said father, is being bullied at school, and desperately trying to maintain some sense of normality. And then we have his teacher and her brother who’ve been abused by their father. The film does a great job of tackling hard themes such as child abuse and poverty.
The film does bring up another theme that I feel is very undermined. It also tries to have a message about humans destroying the planet, or constantly mining and draining resources from the earth, that I feel doesn’t really play well into this film. This theme is mentioned once, with subtlety, but never brought up again so it’s pretty much overlooked.
I also feel that this feel lacks any sort of character connection. Keri Russell has one scene with her student trying to make a connection and then she’s all of the sudden cares for his sake. Granted I wish more teachers showed more concern for their students wellbeing but it feels rushed. Maybe this film could have one or two more interactions and I would have believe that she really cares for this kid.
Overall Antlers is a damn good horror film just in time for Halloween. I definitely give it a recommend. I also highly recommend checking out the short story this film is based on, “The Quiet Boy”. It’s a damn good story. Follow this link to check out the story for yourself: https://www.guernicamag.com/the-quiet-boy/
-Needs more character connection
Final Grade: B
So those are my thoughts on Antlers. Have you seen it? What were your thoughts on it? Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check out some much more scarier coming up... my 350th review special!
And have a happy and safe Halloween everybody!
Paul Meadows: “Forgive me but this is just a myth.”
Warren: “For you, yeah. But it’s a cautionary tale for the indigenous who believe.”