ANTLERS – Review by Gadi Elkon

Does a top notch director, stellar cast and the creature blessing of producer Guillermo Del Toro make Antlers into a October hit?  Here is my full review of the film.

From the visionary world of acclaimed director Scott Cooper (CRAZY HEART, HOSTILES) and horror maestro Guillermo del Toro (THE SHAPE OF WATER) comes ANTLERS. In an isolated Oregon town, a middle-school teacher (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) become embroiled with her enigmatic student (Jeremy T. Thomas) whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with a legendary ancestral creature who came before them. Based on the short story The Quiet Boy by Nick Antosca, screenplay by C. Henry Chaisson & Nick Antosca and Scott Cooper. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, David S. Goyer, and J. Miles Dale.

Antlers captures the lore of the Wendigo myth but the plot seems rushed with a simple ending.  Director Scott Cooper certainly took a leap into the horror genre and he does do the short story justice visually.  The film will live off the stellar casting choices.  Keri Russell’s tortured performance is a nice contrast off the always fun and aloof nature of Jesse Plemons to the nice cameo parts from Amy Madigan, Graham Greene and Rory Cochrane the movie has a great ensemble.  But the film truly hangs on the two young actors Sawyer Jones and Jeremy T. Thomas who play the Weaver boys who are immersed in the dark plot.  Jeremy really shines in every scene and embodies the scared lost child look.  The Guillermo Del Toro touch is obvious in the creature design elements by Guy Davis and his team.  Also Del Toro’s composer Javier Navarrette has his tremendous talents dripping all over the film.  The haunting quality of Del Toro’s usual suspects mixes well with Director of Photography Florian Hoffmeister’s rich night-filled cinematic work.  The opening and a tremendous drone shot at night near the end of the film really give the scope of the Oregon landscape.  Lastly, Scott Cooper’s teaming with Editor Dylan Tichenor again is a real highlight as the pacing is perfectly handled in the Oscar nominee’s keen eye.

My only real issues revolve around the simple story element.  Granted they were working off a short story, but the subtle hints at meth addiction, childhood trauma and town violence were not explored enough.  I really had hoped Scott Cooper’s ability to deliver a film that packs a punch would have elevated this horror trope.  Instead we are just given a decent dark tale that isn’t to in depth.  A nice Halloween treat with a tremendous cast, but honestly Antlers seems like a film meant to be forgotten as the clock strikes midnight.

Nonetheless if you are a fan of myth tales, especially the Wendigo, this will at least satisfy your hunger.

ANTLERS

Directed by: Scott Cooper

Screenplay by: C. Henry Chaisson & Nick Antosca and Scott Cooper, based upon the short story THE QUIET BOY by Nick Antosca

Rated: R

Selig Rating: 3 Stars

Running Time: 1 hr 39 min

Horror

Theatrical Release: In Theaters October 29th.

Starring: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan

 

The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

 

(From L-R): Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas and Keri Russell in the film ANTLERS. Photo by Kimberley French. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

 

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