Review: Antlers (2021)

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Antlers (2021)

Directed by: Scott Cooper | 99 minutes | drama, horror | Actors: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan, Sawyer Jones, Cody Davis, Lyla Marlow, Jesse Downs, Arlo Hajdu, Dorian Kingi, Ken Kramer, Dendrie Taylor

You have horror movies and you have ‘Antlers’. This Scott Cooper movie is different from your average horror movie. You could also call this a suffocating drama with a few horror passages. ‘Antlers’ is not so much about gore or jumpscares, but relies heavily on the setting of the atmosphere. And Cooper has succeeded well in that. This movie is one bonk atmosphere, but not of the right kind…

‘Antlers’ revolves around Julia Meadows (Keri Russell). This lady has been badly damaged by life and is having a hard time standing up. Yet she works as a teacher in a sleepy town and lives with her estranged brother (Jesse Plemons). When Julia sees the quiet Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas) in her class, she recognizes traces of abuse. She tries to contact Lucas’ father Frank (Scott Haze). However, this man is missing and it seems that Lucas lives alone in the house. Something isn’t right about the kid’s story, and Julia sets out to investigate. The results of her quest are shocking…

‘Antlers’ is a cleverly made film, but it fails in the setting. Everything in this film exudes desolation, despair and pain. Each character carries a terrible history and future with them and that makes this film top heavy. There is no room for some air or humor that puts things into perspective.

If Cooper had built in some moments of rest, this film would have been more manageable. If you put alcoholism, child abuse and malnutrition in one film and then add an indestructible monster, there is little perspective left. ‘Antlers’ is too much of a good thing and after a while the film dulls. That’s a shame, because the acting is very strong. Russell is doing well as a shaky nanny and gets good counterplay from Plemons as her brother who tries to make something of his life despite his ruined childhood. Child actor Thomas is also extraordinary in the role of the reclusive Lucas.

If an inky, depressing horror film doesn’t scare you, then this film is definitely for you.

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