Antlers

Antlers is a micro-budget horror movie that aspires to be much more meaningful than it is.  In a perpetually rainy town in Oregon, a young boy named Lucas (Jeremy T. Thomas) is trying to keep his family together while his meth-cooking father is in the throes of something that is turning him into an animal.  Lucas’s teacher Julia (Keri Russell) believes that Lucas’ disheveled state and withdrawn behavior are tell-tale signs child abuse, because she was abused as a child.  Her monosyllabic brother Paul (Jesse Plemons), the town sheriff, warns her not to intervene, but you know how this will turn out.  Graham Greene cameos as former Sheriff Warren who reveals that Lucas’s father was bitten by a Wendigo, a creature based in Native American legend.  From here on out, danger signs go unheeded, people get eaten and the movie’s big confrontation wraps up surprisingly quickly.

Russell and Plemons have been in much better movies than this, so their participation is curious.  Director Scott Cooper has made better films than this one, and hopefully this movie is just a bump in the road for him.  The movie’s reliance on the themes of child abuse and drug addition are just window dressing, a transparent way to garner sympathy for paper-thin characters.  Even more bothersome is how the movie uses a Native American legend as the basis for a cheap, CGI monster.  While the movie does establishes a depressing, gloomy atmosphere and generates a few modest scares, it ultimately is not worth the trouble.  Not Recommended.

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