26 Oct 2021
Henry Chaisson, Nick Antosca, Scott Cooper
Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas
Scott Cooper’s Antlers has just enough creepiness, gore, and fright to hold its own leading into the Halloween weekend. Whilst it is not hugely original or standout in the horror franchise, Cooper manages to keep intrigue alive as he delves into the mythological beasts genre.
Held up by two strong TV leads in the form of The American’s Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons of Breaking Bad and Fargo fame, Antlers also contains a clear Guillermo del Toro stamp within the majority of its scenes and in a script that is well suited to actors who do not need to say a great deal to raise their performance.
In the film, teacher Julia Meadows (Russell) is concerned one of her young students may be suffering abuse at home, and, after a series of disappearances, suspects something worse is at play, bringing her Sheriff brother (Plemons) into the mix.
Antlers is not without its problems. Whilst slower horrors can often still keep your heart rate high through ambitious concepts and powerful music, Cooper’s pacing tests the patience at times, and the score prioritises volume over appropriateness. The intelligence of the plot also decreases over the duration of the film, venturing into an unsatisfying conclusion that cannot justify the choices of its characters.
Where Antlers struggles most, is in identifying its goal and underlying message. Cooper highlights abuse and poverty, but in circling them rather than exploring these subjects further, there is not enough depth to the film or its characters.
Antlers is reminiscent of The Village at times, or at least its better parts, and delivers in providing the same bleak outlook and serious approach to a ‘creature feature’. But without striving for something beyond general expectations of this genre, Antlers comes out as a mediocre small-town horror that won’t stay in the mind for too long