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Antlers Is An Uneven Mess With A Hell Of A Conclusion {Review}

Antlers finally arrives in theaters this weekend after seeing significant delays because of the pandemic, from director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro, from a short story titled "The Quiet Boy" by the awesomely talented Nick Antosca. Usually, a film with that kind of talent behind the camera and Keri Russell and Jesse Plemons would rightfully jump to the front of any horror fan's must-see list. While that may be the case for most, as anticipation is high for this one, sadly, what we got was a very uneven film that ends up having one of the best last ten minutes in horror this year.

Antlers Is An Uneven Mess With A Hell Of A Conclusion {Review}
Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, and Keri Russell in Antlers. Credit Searchlight Pictures

Antlers Had Too Many Hands In The Fire

When a young boy, played by Jeremy T. Thomas, is forced to take care of his father and younger brother is forced to take care of his father and brother, sick with a mysterious affliction, his teacher Julia (Russell) thinks he is being abused at home, much like she and her sheriff brother (Plemons). Unfortunately for all of them, they could never imagine the horror that has come to their small town.

Unfortunately for all of us, Antlers spends most of its runtime spinning its wheels and not just getting to it. Often you wonder where the other half of a scene has gone, seemingly chopped off for no real reason and leaving you wondering why it is even there at all. Did we need to know about Julia's abuse? Could she have just been a concerned teacher? It is understandable why Cooper, who also writes here along with Antosca and C. Henry Chaisson, went that route, so we feel like the bond she shares over shared trauma with Thomas's character is deep, but they never fully go there with what exactly happened to her, and that bond suffers for it. Antlers also features some of the weirdest character logic gaps in a horror film this year. Julia's brother is a sheriff, and apparently, that means she can just show up at crime scenes and walk around? Or go investigate a suspect even after she is told not to? Yikes.

Antlers Is An Uneven Mess With A Hell Of A Conclusion {Review}
Jeremy T. Thomas and Keri Russell in Antlers. Credit Searchlight Pictures

Julia and her brother are at odds about supernatural forces being in play for most of the film. Then about halfway through, they really show their ass by casting the always excellent Graham Greene as a token native character who explains what is really going on and then disappears from the film completely. It is really jarring and takes you right out of the film when it happens. There had to be a less cringy way to accomplish that.

For long stretches, the film is actually quite dull, except when Thomas is onscreen. He is a fine young actor and is asked to do a lot of heavy lifting here. He succeeds for the most part, right up until the last twenty minutes when the script betrays him. But that last ten minutes is powerful, emotional, and looks beautiful. You are left wondering where this inventiveness and attention to detail was the rest of the runtime, and it ends up making you a little angry that what proceeded it was not better.

Antlers ends up a very frustrating watch. You want to love this, but there needed to be a less heavy hand in the editing bay, and it feels like they just were not trusting their own story as they went along. What they ended up with is a choppy mess of a film with a great ten minutes most will not care about by the time it comes along.


Antlers Is An Uneven Mess With A Hell Of A Conclusion {Review}
Review by Jeremy Konrad

Antlers is a disappointing film that shows what happens when filmmakers don't trust their own vision. The last ten minutes are incredible however, making the whole thing even more frustrating.

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Jeremy KonradAbout Jeremy Konrad

Jeremy Konrad has written about collectibles and film for almost ten years. He has a deep and vast knowledge of both. He resides in Ohio with his family.
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