A troubled young boy, a small town myth, a monster on the prowl and a deserted mine. Antlers looks to be dripping in the same clichés and platitudes we have seen thousands of times before.
With the esteemed director, Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Takedown) at the helm, the movie does, however, show a little promise. To keep its head over the perilous waters of tired concepts; Antlers needs to show us some unique ideas and offer a compelling, fresh plot to avoid becoming a forgettable, uninspiring production.
Adapted from a short story written by Nick Antoski – “The Quiet Boy”; the monster film follows a brother-sister team of cop and teacher (Keri Russel and Jessi Plemons) who become increasingly concerned about a young student. Are there worried he is being bullied? Do they think he is a bully? Drugs maybe? No, their concern is that Lucas (Jeremy T Thomas) is harbouring a supernatural entity in his bedroom.
There’s very little room to write about this premise without raising the eyebrows of my readers as the recognition of a corny storyline collectively falls. In its essence, the film is lacklustre and shows no promise beyond the occasional jumpscare. With no notable cast members and such a thin plot, the onus is on the famous Guillermo del Toro to work his magic and pull a rabbit out of the hat.
Can Guillermo del Toro Save Antlers?
Bringing to the table his renowned experience in the genre, Del Toro stands to be the much-needed saving grace. Boasting previous works such as Pan’s Labyrinth, Mimic and The Orphanage; the well-decorated producer has all it takes to give Antlers the psychological tension it’s going to need to be remembered.
The over-used concept is fast becoming predictable. The monster itself, a part-man-part-reindeer hybrid, shows a similar imagination – or lack thereof – to the storyline. It’s limited presence during the footage I saw points in the clear direction of a slow-paced and drawn-out movie.
As negative as my preview sounds, I do hold a strong faith in both director and producer. Del Toro’s extensive experience in the horror genre shows us that he has the prowess needed to take a dull plot and make it shine. Adding a touch of the psychological fear he does so well has all the potential to actually make something of this film.
The footage does hint at a psychological horror angle. The filter used during filming adds a washed-out feel to the contrast of the movie, similar to what we see in other films of such a nature. Antlers bears an underlying potential – it just has to rely on more than the story alone.
~ Michael P Cleworth