If we stop for a moment to think outside of our own lives, whether your food wasn’t made how you requested it at the restaurant or that your coworker’s slacking is making your day more difficult, there are people whose lives are a living horror movie. It is easy to get wrapped up in our own mundane melancholy that it can be hard to enjoy what we have. Antlers is that film that comes out of the mainstream woodwork and reminds us all that there are lives far more broken than ours and that a monster may be the least of their worries.

Julia (Keri Russell) has returned to her childhood town and it has been a hard journey. She is back in a house that has haunted her dreams, living with a brother that fills her with regrets, and is having trouble setting into her new teaching job. One student who has caught her attention is Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas), who is drawing strange things and is showing signs of troubled home life. What Julia doesn’t know is Lucas is the only one who is keeping his troubles at home from wreaking untold havoc and death upon the town.

From the very introduction of any character we see on screen, these are fully fleshed out, lived-in characters, that have been broken in one way or another by life. What does so well in Antlers is really tapping into a show don’t tell attitude with the storytelling. It is hinted that Julia suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of her father and that is what lead to her leaving and that the trauma at some point lead to alcoholism that she is recovering from. Hints about moments like these makeup less than ten minutes of the run time but are interwoven in a way that enriches each of the characters.

In the same way the film builds up its characters, Antlers also allows the story to develop naturally. While the trailers may have you believe that there is a supernatural threat constantly putting the town in jeopardy, most of the film takes place watching what started off as a sickness become more and more out of control until it becomes a monster. This slow-burn while developing the town and the characters makes the emergence of the antagonist all the more satisfying and threatening leading to an exciting, all-be-it weirdly short finale.

There are many ways for life to break down a person, and they are many different ways to react to the trauma from it. Do we try to make the most of what we have and move on or are our wounds deep enough that they begin to grow something monstrous in the dark recesses of ourselves? It is questions like this that Antlers leaves you with, wondering about the human condition and if there is a way to save everyone. It is a film that is not for the light of heart looking for a simple monster movie, but an incredible experience if you are ready for something a little bleaker.

 

8 out of 10

 

Antlers 
RATING: R
Runtime: 1 Hr. 39 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By:

 

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About the Author

A huge horror fan with a fondness for 80s slashers. Can frequently be found at southern California horror screenings and events.
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