Everyone loves a wendigo
Today I am writing to tell to you about Antlers, which is a film with a lot of symbolism.
It was released in 2021 and directed by Scot Cooper. It was adapted from the short story, The Quiet Boy, written by Nick Antosca.
The story takes place in a small town in Oregon, where a drug dealer, Frank, runs his meth lab out of an old mine. Frank is visiting his lab and he; his son Aiden and Franks meth pal are all attacked by a creature in the mine. Frank and Aiden escape but meth buddy does not. However, Frank and Aiden are not well after the attack and return home to be locked in the basement by Franks other boy, Lucas.
We have a time jump of just under a month, we catch up with Lucas who is collecting road kill as well as killing small animals to take the carcases home. Lucas’ teacher is naturally upset by his behaviour, though she suspects that he is being abused. She meets resistance in her investigation but eventually she visits the home where she hears odd things.
Part of meth bestie’s remains are found, prompting the local constabulary to investigate and we see the state of Lucas’ father and brother in the basement, shocker that they are the ones Lucas is feeding with all the animal carcases.
Further investigation leads the police to the mine and they find more of Meth BFF and an antler. The school principal is pressured by Lucas’ teacher to visit the home and she does so only to be killed by Frank before he undergoes a brutal antler prominent transformation. He leaves the home and goes and kills a kid who was picking on Lucas.
With the principle missing the teacher visits the house again with the police. They find the principle and oddly enough Frank as well; his body is a husk. Aiden is still missing. A local native American sees drawings done by Lucas and identifies the creature as a wendigo and states it can only be killed when its feeding.
Wendigo-Frank comes for Lucas at the teacher’s house and kills the local deputy, Lucas and his teacher hide while the sheriff tries to protect them and is badly hurt. They all go to the meth lab in the mine where they find Aiden and Frank. Teacher and Lucas kill Frank and the Aiden to end the curse. But in the closing scene the sheriff is seen showing signs of the curse.
I really enjoyed this film. The ascetic drew me in first, I’m a sucker for deer imagery in horror so the trailer sucked me right in and I was not disappointed.
The plot of this film was well structured and paced, it held me and kept my interest without rushing through points. It was suspenseful where it needed to be but also knew where to let the tension down a bit.
I really enjoy Wendigo stories as they do so much in a short space. For those of you unfamiliar, Wendigo’s are often used as symbols for greed and starvation, they are linked heavily to cannibalism. I like that this film tied this into drugs, in particular meth, which often leaves users looking like half starved creatures. It also ties into the idea that those who create and sell these drugs are effectively devouring their fellow man for their own profit. It was a nice spin on the classic folklore. I very much liked the tie in of the classic monster with the social tension. It put me in mind of It Follows which did something similar, by tying its monster into the social tension around casual sex.
The atmosphere was wonderfully constructed, I loved the mishmash of different tensions from the thriller aspect building tension through the story, the elements of gross out horror with Franks transformation and meth buddies violent end and lastly the touch of classic horror with a folkloric monster and wonderful setting.
The story was good at establishing the stakes but also keeping the audience guessing. With Lucas feeling that he had to protect his loved ones and in turn the town from his loved ones and then moving on to simply surviving Frank and the curse.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it strongly.