REview: Antlers (2021) | The Thinking Person’s Horror Film

What I enjoy most about is that horror cinema is that it encompasses a whole menagerie of movies.

And sure, you have iconic movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street (and its many sequels), Friday the 13th, Halloween and movies of that ilk, but you also have horror movies of a more comedic bent, like Hatchet (for me, a surprisingly enjoyable homage to slasher horror, Friday the 13th in particular) and many others so that if you’re into horror at all you’re likely to find something that you’ll enjoy.

For instance, I enjoyed Netflix revisiting the town of Harlow in Texas Chainsaw Massacre – as well as the 80’s levels of mainly practical gore – but the story, such as it was – let me wanting more.

And that’s because I sometimes like a little meat on the bone, which is why I’m a huge fan of movies like A Dark Song, which falls into the area I like to call a ‘thinking person’s horror’ – and I don’t use that phrase to impugn fans of other types of horror films more than to indicate that there are some that rely on strong characterization and revolve around themes and ideas that most films don’t.

Scott Cooper’s Antlers – which I want to call Horns so bad except that that isn’t a very good movie from Alexandre Aja, a director who’s done much better – is one of these movies that requires something more from the viewer.

The story revolves around the wendigo, a malevolent creature from Native American legend.

Apparently it feeds on despair and fear, and an American town in it’s death throes due to the decline of the coal industry that powered it is a perfect hunting ground for the creature.

The town were the story takes place is a character in itself and it’s decline resonates in the physical appearance of many of the main characters, some of whom seem to be carrying an invisible weight pulling them to earth.

Antlers is the first horror movie directed by Scott Cooper, and his very humanistic approach to filming focuses more on the town and it’s citizens than the creature itself – and to be honest that’s something that often irritates me in other horror films but in one so well-acted and introducing some really intriguing themes it works really well.

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