Is Antlers, a hair-raising shift to body horror for Crazy Heart and Hostiles director Scott Cooper, Really on the curse of generational trauma and family abuse? Or is that Really About the dire consequences facing a society that cruelly repudiates the underprivileged, allowing those on the breadline to suffer in silence? Or is that Really about how white Americans should pay the price for stealing and then abusing the land and culture that belongs to indigenous communities? Or is that Really actually, ultimately, about nothing at all? Is it just another post-Babadook / Hereditary / Get Out stance attempting to “elevate” the horror genre (a genre that doesn’t always need to be “elevated” thank you very much), too dumb for the art industry and too boring for the crowd? of Halloween?
If only those involved in making Antlers had any clues, maybe that would be a more cohesive and less maddening experience, but the film, produced by Guillermo del Toro, is a formless stain of extreme blood and heavy soap, trying to do it. anxiously. much more than it is capable of. There’s probably a semi-decent creature feature here and perhaps, with a lot of redesign, a semi-decent human drama, but as it stands it fails at both, a satisfying and coherent film buried under copious amounts of animal guts. .
In a rural Oregon town, a young man named Lucas (Jeremy T Thomas) has a secret. His teacher Julia (Keri Russell) is worried: he looks malnourished and exhausted, spending lessons drawing nightmare pictures, haunted by something unknown. Julia is also haunted by a childhood of abuse that kept her from her home and her surviving brother (Jesse Plemons) for 20 years. Now she’s back and she’s determined not to let Lucas suffer the same fate as her, but what exactly is going on at her house and why does she keep bringing dead animals home?
There’s an overwhelming lethargy to the way Cooper and his C co-writers Henry Chaisson and Nick Antosca unravel the plot of Antlers, a pace that would feel more justified, and indeed welcome, if there was so much to go on. But the bones in his film have barely any meat, a fairly simple story disguised as something much more complex, so we quickly tire ourselves out, waiting for a substance or meaning that never comes. Plemons and Russell, two highly competent actors, form an almost impossible-to-believe sibling pair, not only as a result of physical opposition, but also thanks to a total lack of connection. Both are of medium effort, but are hampered by a dash that offers them the lightest bites to chew on. Russell’s character development is limited to her glancing guiltily at a bottle of whiskey at the liquor store, while Plemons has even less to do, hanging around like the bewildered local sheriff, both wasted on a movie that doesn’t deserve them.
So while our brains and hearts are left frustratingly unattended, elements of the genre are left to take over, a more efficient, if ultimately flawed, side of the film. Cooper is capable of evoking a certain wet fear and there is a visceral evil in the violence that works until it does not, as the creature at the center of the story steps out of the darkness into the light, but seriously monotony. surrounding the body, grotesque horror absorbs much of its efficacy. It’s a goofy monster movie that keeps urging us to take it seriously without giving us any valid reason.
Not working on a basic level as drama or horror is egregious enough, but what takes Antlers from underwhelming to disrespectful is how he chooses to frame his indigenous inspiration, creating a complete film about established mythology while keeping First Nations characters. almost completely absent. Cooper’s film begins with a Native American voice-over to feature Wendigo, an evil creature that was previously used in multiple movies and shows, but then focuses on the white characters, with only poor Graham Greene trapped in the background. , called only to download information to those. unknown, as if it were a character from a video game. Perhaps there is some caution here about the lack of respect for the land and its resources (also Really On climate change?), But by failing to give indigenous peoples a real role or voice, Cooper’s murky message is lost, the film commits the very sin that it appears to be punishing.
By trying so hard to say something, Antlers leads nowhere.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism