Divisive cosmic creature feature ‘Antlers’ finally receives praise

Divisive cosmic creature feature finally sees waves of praise from cryptid connoisseurs
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Cosmic horror and creatures features may seem like different ends of the horror spectrum, but it follows in a rich vein of H.P. Lovecraft’s greatest works. One of the most recent feature film crossovers, the Scott Cooper directed Antlers, received a mostly lukewarm reception, but is now seeing some love.

Starring Keri Russell and produced by Guillermo del Toro, Antlers took several hits from the pandemic, resulting in an 18 month delay before it was released in cinemas. When it finally saw the light of day, Antlers was the subject of average reviews and a sense it was lacking in true del Toro-levels of absurdity.

Discussion has now returned to the 2021 release, with horror enthusiasts reminiscing on Antlers as deserving more credit. Undoubtedly not helped by its initial release coinciding with Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho and del Toro’s own film Nightmare Alley, it’s perhaps no surprise it’s taken this long for Antlers to receive recognition.

Antlers features the age-old combination of a strange young boy befriending an otherworldly and bizarre being, and small town politics. Hardly a breathtaking concept, it does see interesting themes within its script. Meant to be an allegory for the opioid epidemic in midwest communities, Antlers was hindered by its overall macabre treatment of its characters. Brutal, to say the least.

An adaptation of the short story “The Quiet Boy” written by Nick Antosca, there is an obvious issue regarding the length of the 100 minute Antlers, with the ending of the original novella made much more punctual and effective due to its shortened structure.

The titular monster is also a form of a wendigo, which is always a welcome addition in a rural-set horror film. Give me more wendigos and less poltergeists, Hollywood.

The cast for Antlers, however, is surprisingly strong. Just around the same time as he entered Academy Awards discussion for The Power of the Dog, Jesse Plemons headlined Antlers alongside Russell, as well as Dazed and Confused star Rory Cochrane.

The impact of Antlers on the box office and financials is also hard to gauge, with no budget made public and an overall box office of $18 million. In comparison, Nightmare Alley made $39 million, and Last Night in Soho just ahead with $23 million.