5/10 Director Scott Cooper (“Black Mass”, “Crazy Heart”, etc.) had made four solid films leading up to his first foray into the horror genre. “Antlers” isn’t a bad movie but its extreme mediocrity easily makes this his weakest directorial effort to date. What “Antlers” does get right is its mood and tone. The haunting cinematography, dark color palette and appropriately creepy score definitely set the stage for the darkness to come. This feels a lot more like producer Guillermo del Toro’s baby than it does Scott’s, who is known more for dark dramas. The atmosphere is fantastic and we get some strong performances from lead actors Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons. Coming in at only an hour and 40 minutes, the pacing works well and I was actually surprised that we get to see the creature reveal as early on as we did. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the movie was watching the evolution of the mythical creature that terrorizes the humans of this isolated Oregon town. The mixture of practical creature effects with beautifully rendered CGI gave me vibes to the classic “John Carpenter’s The Thing”. I also enjoyed how the movie ended as well as the dark cloud that hangs over the entire movie leading up to its final shot. As for what didn’t work, there are several glaring issues here with the story. For starters, despite the high production values, this boils down to a forgettable creature feature in the vein of “Krampus”. While “Krampus” took a more comical approach to its subject matter and “Antlers” takes a serious one, both movies are based upon mythological, fairy tale folklore with no basis in reality. While there is nothing wrong with that in telling a horror story, the lack of solid explanations and instead chalking it up to “urban legend” feels a little lazy to me. There is also a lack of consistency in the movie. Without giving away too much, the infected character that is slowly turning into the creature has two sons. Both are in close contact with him but only one son gets directly impacted while the other does not. Once the creature is locked up, it could easily break down the wooden door containing it (especially since later on in the movie we see the creature breaking through a wooden shed) but it doesn’t. It also somehow knows to not hurt its children, despite being a cannibalistic killing machine but we never get an explanation on how much of the original man is still left inside of the creature or if the creature completely takes over. Even though we get some hints at a backstory for our two leading brother/sister characters, they still seem to lack some character development and no supporting characters get any real development as well. “Antlers” is fine as a free stream/rental around Halloween time but since the movie isn’t even scary (another problem), you could definitely do better in terms of the horror genre. While not a waste of time due to its accomplishments, keep your expectations in check with this one.

#ScaryRussell / #Cantlers / #FreeStateOfBones / #MaimNight / #FridayNightBites / #ElkCaminoABreakingLadMovie

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