Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan
Synopsis: In an isolated Oregon town, a middle-school teacher and her sheriff brother become embroiled with her enigmatic student, whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with a legendary ancestral creature who came before them.
From the visionary world of acclaimed director Scott Cooper [Crazy Heart (2009), Out of the Furnace (2013), Black Mass (2015), Hostiles (2017)] and with horror maestro Guillermo del Toro [Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), The Shape of Water (2017)] as a producer, comes this outstanding film, 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. It is based on the short story, The Quiet Boy, by Nick Antosca, who collaborated with Scott Cooper and Henry Chaisson on the to-the-bone scary screenplay.
An effectively creepy, strange and sombre horror film, Antlers centres on a young boy, Lucas (a truly superb, emotionally complex performance from newcomer, Jeremy T. Thomas) whose family’s encounter with a strange creature of Amerindian mythology – a Wendigo – results in a paralyzing grip of fear and intimidation that eventually catches the attention of his new (and equally traumatized) teacher Julia Meadows (Keri Russell giving a performance of suitable gravitas) with some truly harrowing results.
In an isolated Oregon town this slow-burning story unfolds as a powerful allegory about the grim reality of abuse and neglect.
In Cooper’s eldritch, supernatural tale of terror, the beautiful cinematography of Florian Hoffmeister depicts a land that seems sick, but the local ecology is not to be given a chance to recover because the long-closed coal mine is set to reopen. Meth is processed in the mine and the cooks want to get their last batches completed, but they are attacked by a strange creature.
Lucas the young son of one of the cooks is feeding animal carcasses to something which howls and bangs against a locked door.
His teacher Julia is disturbed by Lucas’s drawings and the way he retells myths; she has her own demons to deal with, having returned to the town after a 20-year absence, bringing tensions to her relationship with her brother, Paul (Jesse Plemons). The town itself is poverty stricken and the children malnourished. The horror in the film is visceral and the eerie atmospheric score by Javier Navarrete emphasises the dark and dreary atmosphere.
Antlers is a compelling, supernatural chiller with a social and ecological commentary that blends Native American lore with family drama—and plenty of requisite scary moments.
Images courtesy of: Searchlight Pictures