When it comes to horror movies, creature features and body horror always seem to be less popular than supernatural or psychological horror. Antlers, released in 2021, after almost a year of sitting on the shelf due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Scott Cooper directs and co-writes a screenplay based on the short story “The Quiet Boy” written by Nick Ancosta, also credited as a screenwriter along with C. Henry Chassion. Luckily, Guillermo Del Toro and David S. Goyer are producers on this movie as Cooper’s previous movies seem to be dramas and crime movies.
Antlers is set in a small town in Oregon that has been hit hard by the economy that more people tend to manufacture meth rather than anything else. Keri Russell plays Julia Meadows, a school teacher who has returned to her hometown following the death of her abusive father, to crash with her brother, Paul Meadows (Jesse Plemons) who is the local sheriff. Their relationship is strained because Julia ran off to California leaving Paul to take the brunt of their father’s abuse in her absence.
Julia seems to notices some odd behavior in Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas), a boy in her class who seems to be what a Dickensian boy would’ve looked like in the Pacific Northwest. What she doesn’t know, but we do know, is Lucas’ father, Frank (Scott Haze) was attacked earlier by an unseen force while he was manufacturing meth in an abandoned factory.
Julia notices some odd drawings by Lucas and brings it to the attention of the school principal, Ellen Booth (Amy Madigan), who is concerned but Lucas and his father, and older brother, Aiden (Sawyer Jones), who has been removed are considered the type of people who the school is willing to not ask too many questions until they have to. Ellen explains that since most of the parents are dealing drugs, Aiden may be kept at home because he’s helping his father and the smell of meth might alert authorities.
What no one knows is Frank and Aiden are locked in the dark in their house as Frank is transforming into a supernatural being. And Aiden appears to be not to far behind. Not to give much away but the movie focuses on the myth of the wendigo from Indigenous cultures. It doesn’t try to be too political or social. The economic hardships is set more as a backdrop for the events to transpire rather than a main focus.
And maybe that’s what a horror movie should do. I really was surprised when events started the way they did. The only problem is that Russell seems to play on the gloom too much. I admit there’s obviously some tension and even dislike between Julia and Paul, but some of the jump scares aren’t needed.
All in all, I think Cooper was just trying to make an old-fashioned creature feature/body horror movie. If you read too much into this, you won’t enjoy it as well.
What do you think? Please comment.