‘Antlers’ Review: A Horror Film With More Snooze Than Scares

Maybe not *everything* in theaters deserves our support…

“Antlers” follows a schoolteacher (Keri Russell) who begins to notice one of her young students (Jeremy T. Thomas) is acting strangely, and recruits her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) to look into his home life, only to discover a disturbing secret. Scott Cooper directs and Guillermo del Toro produces.

Like many a’film, this was due out last year but was delayed due to a certain global pandemic. Maybe it would have been better off staying on the shelf because “Antlers” is a half-baked, needlessly confusing, ploddingly-paced creature feature that ends Spooky Season 2021 on a weak note.

There is very little about this film that works. The screenplay by Cooper, C. Henry Chaisson, and Nick Antosca makes surface-level attempts to have allegories for and commentary on topics such as abuse, childhood trauma, and the opioid crisis, but none of them really land. Horror films have increasingly become mirrors to society, with Jordan Peele taking on race with “Get Out” and “Midsommar” touching on toxic relationships, but when it comes to “Antlers,” all I can say is the pool seems deep when you’ve never seen the ocean.

The performances here are fine, with Keri Russell, Jesse Plemmons, and Graham Greene all adding some gravitas to a pretty dumb script. They’re not given much to do, and their motivations and actions are never fully fleshed out, but they aren’t bad performances; all three of the actors are too good and established to ever be the problem with a film.

I don’t hate Scott Cooper and his films (the Whitey Bulger biopic “Black Mass” was even a top 10 honorable mention in 2015) but all his films seem like they should be great but fall short of their potential. “Hostiles” looked great but was at the end of the day pretty empty, and no one remembers “Out of the Furnace.” His direction here is decent when it comes to establishing mood, but as far as momentum, it’s non-existent.

The creature design is… fine, it reminds me of the demon deer from 2018’s “Annihilation,” but before that there are a lot of dumb things to set it up, including some glowing that reminded me of the bad guys from “Iron Man 3.”

There isn’t much else to say about “Antlers” other than it is a, to put it in Layman’s terms, boring film. There were multiple points at which my friend and I slowly looked at each other and rolled out eyes at the sheer stupidity being depicted on-screen, and this isn’t even a “so bad it’s good” kind of film. While there are films that demand to be seen on the big screen like “Dune” and films that deserve your attention like “The Last Duel,” “Antlers” doesn’t even merit a “scrolling at 11pm on a Friday night and want to watch something creepy in the background to fall asleep to” recommendation.

Critics Rating: 2/10

Searchlight Pictures

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