Antrum is a new horror film from directors David Amito and Michael Laicini with a decent gimmick and a better movie in the middle. The gimmick is the tagline: Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made. We open with a faux documentary of talking heads telling us the movie Antrum was made in the 1979, shown once or twice to disastrous (for the audience) results, and buried, never to be shown again because of its curse. So beware because watching it can kill you, and also here's the movie. There's a helpful countdown clock before it starts if you want to bail. Brilliant.
But the movie Antrum itself is a lovely slow-burn, almost fairy-tale-like horror that tells the story of an eight-year-old brother and teen sister, Nathan and Oralee, who go into the woods to perform a ritual that Oralee insists will lay to rest the spirit of their recently-dead dog, and hopefully stop Nathan's nightmares. Oralee's heart is in the right place, but her solution: go camping, dig a hole, try to spot demons disguised as wildlife, disturb random trappers, is no way to stop nightmares.
The grainy, 70s-style film shows the siblings camping and digging and reciting rites as scary visions come to them and weird shapes disappear from their peripheral vision. Worse, they keep stumbling across scary actual people with their own business in the woods. And worse for us, as the producers explain, someone has tampered with the movie we're watching and inserted weird, scary images. At one point the movie appears to break, showing a black screen, and only gradually do we see a dark shadow staring back at us.
This is a very meta-horror movie, and it's played wonderfully straight. Fans of Robert Eggers' The Witch will find this the disturbing chaos and dreamlike quality of this film right up their alley.
We spoke to Nicole Tompkins, who plays Oralee, about the process of shooting the film in the woods in Ohai, California, and about the fairy-tale quality of the film.
Antrum is available now from Uncorked Entertainment on digital platforms everywhere.
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The Team: Hosted by Jason Henderson, editor of the Castle of Horror Anthology and Young Captain Nemo, and creator of the HarperTeen novel series Alex Van Helsing.