Coming to Bluray and currently streaming on HBO/Max from director Scott Cooper and Searchlight Pictures is the story of a town and the mythology about the ANTLERS.
In a small town in Oregon, Julia Meadows (Keri Russell) has come home to live with brother Paul (Jesse Plemmons) who happens to be the town sheriff. Teaching at the local school, Julia has student Lucas (Jeremy T. Thomas) in her classroom. Very withdrawn and gaunt looking, Julia wonders about his home life and one day decides to follow him a little.
Over ice cream she learns that Lucas lives at home with dad Frank (Scott Haze) and young brother Aiden (Sawyer Jones) who stays home. Lucas makes it clear that everything is fine, but Julia believes it is time to talk with school Principal Booth (Amy Madigan) after seeing some of the frightful drawings done by the young boy.
Julia even brings it up to Paul, but their conversations always seem to turn to the issues of their childhood. Never really getting to the heart of their feelings, they do not seem to be able to communicate. Also, Paul is dealing with strange things happening in their town when body after body seems to show up, and it is the manner of death that no one can comprehend.
Turning to Warren Stokes (Graham Greene), Julia and Paul learn about the legend of the area and a creature, the ‘wendigo’ that could be responsible for what is happening in the town. The thought of what they are told is too much for them to even consider believing.
Back at his home, Lucas is trying to keep secrets but, as with all secrets, it only takes a fraction of a second for the truth to come tumbling out under the weight of fear – and there is plenty in his house to be afraid of.
Thomas as Lucas is at the top of my list in this film. What an amazing young man to take on such a frightening role. His appearance is everything and his demeanor is so controlled when anyone else is around. What is living in his home would emotionally take down any other adult on the planet, but this young man does not see fear, he sees a family that he wants to hold on to. Thomas portrays his character with such strength and protectiveness, truly well done.
Russell as Julia has her own bag of issues that she brings back to the home where she grew up. Trying to find joy in her job, she just does not feel it. Focusing on Lucas and giving him attention takes away from having to deal with her own fears. Russell’s character relates to Lucas and that is why she keeps going forward where most people would run.
Plemmons as Paul wants to reconnect with his sister, but she seems wrapped up in her own past pain. I thought the most poignant thing said during the brother-sister conversation was after Julia rants he calmly says, “you don’t know what happened to me” and he should have added, “because you never ask!”. I actually said that out loud because Plemmons gives his character also an air of having felt trauma but hiding it with equal skill to his sister.
Greene as Warren shares the mythology of what he suspects is living in the woods. As horrifying as it is, he knows the truth even if no one else wants to believe it. Greene is always a welcome sight in any film he is in. He has such a presence that is endearing, comforting and yet he does not hold back in the roles he chooses to play.
Other cast include Rory Cochrane as Daniel LeCroy, Cody Davis as Clint Owens, Lyla Marlow as Jasmine Drury, Jesse Downs as Harrison Crawford, Arlo Hajdu as Arlo Kebbins, Ken Kramer as Dr. Ferguson, Dendrie Taylor as Carol Reynolds, and Dorian Kingl as Antlered Man.
Searchlight Pictures is responsible for such films as SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, THE SHAPE OF WATER and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI. They have an extensive film library as well as documentaries, scripted series, and limited series. For more information, please visit www.searchlightpictures.com.
Bonus Features include The Evil Within – Co-writer/director Scott Cooper gives us a glimpse of the many complex layers at play in his approach to making Antlers, a horror film about very human concerns, and his most ambitious film to date. An Exploration of Modern Horror with Guillermo del Toro – Producer Guillermo del Toro traces the lineage of elevated horror in cinema. Employing his encyclopedic knowledge and passion for the horror genre, he discusses the connection between mythology and human behavior.
Artifacts and Totems – The filmmakers discuss how they created this world of a small, tight-knit Northwest community of working-class Americans in bringing Scott Cooper’s vision to life.
Gods Walk Among Us – An in-depth exploration of the digital and practical effects used to create the film’s primal creatures. Cry of the Wendigo – Discover the fascinating folklore behind the wendigo from the film’s First Nations consultants. Learn about the creature’s mythic origins and about its connection to man’s betrayal of the land.
Also, Metamorphosis – At the center of Antlers is a transformative performance by Scott Haze. Hear about the actor’s preparation for filming, including how he lost some 70 pounds in order to play a deeply tragic character. Comic-Con @ Home with Scott Cooper and Guillermo del Toro – Steve Weintraub moderates this candid Comic-Con@Home 2020 Panel interview with Guillermo del Toro and Scott Cooper. Hear the filmmakers describe their process and learn who some of their filmmaking heroes are.
ANTLER is based on the short story The Quiet One by Nick Antosca. Director Cooper takes the idea of a nature mythology and brings it fully on screen and the effects are on fleek. There is the open-faced part of the story but there are so many complex layers that lie underneath.
These are deeply flawed and deeply hurt people, I do not think there is one character in this film that has not dealt with trauma. Maybe that is why it seems so unnoticeable to everyone in the town that Lucas is a little boy suffering. They are all so wrapped up in their own pain that everyone looks like them and if that is the case, that feeling of hopelessness makes it impossible to grasp what is happening.
That being said, man the ‘monster’ is real, and the changing is real and the only way to stop it is to accept that it is all real.
In the end – pray it desires not you!