Scott Cooper’s Antlers is a film with a superb head on its metaphorical shoulders, and a wholesome appreciation of the greatness that exists in horror filmmaking. It’s not overly invested in low-cost scares, incomes its greater moments with environment as a substitute of fast reveals and rating crescendos, and it’s good sufficient to unlock the allegorical energy of the storytelling model by rooting itself in actual world monstrosity. It has participating characters, delivered to life by a proficient solid, and when applicable, it has a willingness to actually let it rip with surprising gore and violence.
For all of those causes, it’s a characteristic that style followers are going to wish to love – however sadly it’s an expertise that isn’t completely capable of maintain collectively earlier than the top credit roll. Whereas the film has various good concepts, it isn’t capable of completely make the most of them with correct coalescence by the third act, leaving you with a pervasive feeling of wishing that there was extra to it. There’s nonetheless a lot to love, however it falls in need of assembly its full potential.
Primarily based on a script by Henry Chaisson, Nick Antosca and Scott Cooper, Antlers balances its Oregon-set story between two protagonists: a small, bullied 12-year-old boy named Lucas (Jeremy T. Thomas); and his elementary college trainer, Julia (Keri Russell), who has just lately returned to her hometown after years away and is quickly residing together with her brother/the native sheriff, Paul (Jesse Plemons).
Having personally skilled abuse by the hands of her father when she was her college students’ age, Julia takes a particular curiosity in Lucas, and believes that he could also be having critical troubles at dwelling – her suspicions solely rising better as she discovers sincerely disturbing paintings in his desk, and learns that the kid’s dad (Scott Haze) is a single mum or dad with a felony document. From an outsider’s perspective, the entire crimson flags are waving, and it has each look of being a really typical case.
These suspicions are warranted, however the case is something however typical. As we comply with Lucas dwelling, we study that he’s residing a lifetime of struggling self-sufficiency – his home a darkish mess and every meal is catch-as-catch-can with no cash and assets. However he’s not alone. Behind a closely locked door is a mysterious, feral being that Lucas cares for by offering it animal carcasses that he finds on his approach getting back from college. The boy hopes he can take care of it and proceed residing his life, however horrors await as the key is uncovered and the reality of the circumstance is revealed.
Above all else, the simplest factor to understand about Antlers is its allegorical intent and try at being greater than only a cool monster film. Among the finest examples within the style root themselves within the terrors of non-supernatural actuality, lending the fabric deeper resonance and verisimilitude, and there may be an earnest try made by Scott Cooper to ascertain a hyperlink between the movie’s fiend and the trauma of kid abuse. The issue is that whereas this work stands up via the primary two acts, it withers away within the third and leaves the expertise feeling unsatisfying – with one’s preliminary admiration of the setup dissipating in gentle of the missing decision.
That is tough materials to debate in what is meant as a spoiler-free assessment, however too important to not acknowledge. Analyzing the start and center of the movie, one can draw one-to-one traces between actual world horrors and the film’s fantastical interpretations – particularly due to the unfolding story about Julia’s experiences – however these connections fall away as Antlers ascends in direction of its climax, and actually disappear altogether within the closing moments in purpose of together with some type of “twist.”
The story in Antlers leans in direction of messy when the monster is unleashed… and never in a great way.
It’s not simply the cracking metaphor that hurts the third act of Antlers, although; there’s a level the place the script appears to be uncertain of learn how to proceed ahead past simply barreling in direction of a closing confrontation. After spending an hour or so establishing characters and dynamics, and slowly ladling exposition that permits audiences to place items collectively, it simply goes into plot mode and begins placing every thing out on the desk. You now not must query how Lucas ended up in his place, as there’s a sequence of blunt flashbacks that spell every thing out. And also you now not marvel in regards to the supernatural facet of the story, as Julie and Paul are capable of get a full, no-doubts lowdown on the state of affairs from the city’s Native American former sheriff (performed by Graham Greene), who spells out the mythology for them.
The film gives the look that in some unspecified time in the future in pre-production the writers have been informed to chop 20 minutes out of the script, forcing a variety of materials to be condensed, and it’s finally very a lot to the ultimate product’s detriment.
There’s a nice monster featured in Antlers, and it’s savage.
Antlers might lose what makes it most attention-grabbing in its third act, however what it’s supplemented is a few stable straight monster-driven horror, and that materials definitely is efficient for what it’s. Scott Cooper’s darkish, somber aesthetic all through the movie successfully lends it a haunting, creepy environment that units the stage for all types of bloody mayhem, and he doesn’t pull punches when it comes time to shred human beings aside into jagged chunks of muscle and bone. For being Cooper’s first intentioned step into horror, the film successfully demonstrates the director’s spectacular style instincts, and suggests it’s a world and tone by which he ought to proceed to mess around sooner or later.
Given its promise and every thing it does proper, Antlers winds up being a irritating expertise. It’s at all times thrilling to see horror taken critically and constructed with detailed function, however the film’s purpose falters at precisely the mistaken time, and the problems badly undermine the perfect features. There’s a lot to understand in its crafting, because it seems to be terrific, has daring model, and options high quality performances, however it’s let down by its disappointing conclusion.