Untapped Potential for Folklore: “Antlers” Movie Review


Photo courtesy of Twitter

Keri Russel and Jeremy T. Thomas in a still from “Antlers.”

Lucy Samuels, Staff Writer

The short story “The Quiet Boy” written by Nick Antosca in 2019 has been turned into a Hollywood horror flick by acclaimed producer Guillermo del Toro. After being pushed back due to the pandemic, horror fans have been waiting two whole years for the movie to hit theaters. However, it has been met with lackluster reviews and after seeing it over my Halloween weekend, I can confidently agree with the criticism. Averaging a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie was no show-stopper to many. 

The movie itself had such a promising story as an edgy folk horror movie. I hoped it could rival classic folk horror movies such as “Midsommar” or “VVitches,” but it turned out as an overproduced action movie that probably spent the majority of the budget on computer-generated imagery [CGI].

The plot uses the Native American tale of the Wendigo cryptid to push a more serious, relevant situation where a boy’s teacher suspects abuse in her student’s family life. After middle school teacher, Julia Meadows (Keri Russell) finds disturbing pictures drawn by her student, Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas) she dives deeper into his home life while the Wendigo plot is revealed more and more throughout. 

It was unfortunate to see such a great plot fall into the trap of bad film execution. It was much more like an action movie than it was a horror film, which is usually what happens when a physical monster is the antagonist. Sure the CGI Wendigo looked cool and menacing, but it wasn’t scary.

The mythological creature Wendigo. (Photo courtesy of Stephen King Wiki)

The Wendigo is a terrifying creature with an equally horrific backstory that was completely left out of the movie. It came to fruition from greed, acting as a malevolent spirit who haunts the greedy. In the more literal sense, a physical Wendigo can come from someone being in contact with a Wendigo. Or cannibalism can cause one to turn into a Wendigo, which is known to be the original origins of the creature.

Another unfortunate horror movie trope (especially folk) the film fell into was a lack of history and lore to further the context of the cryptid. In this case, the Wendigo is rich with Native American history and lore that could have been utilized more to create a greater fear of this unknown creature. The bare minimum was done with hiring a Native American actor for one scene to tell the protagonists what it was and how to kill it.

Nonetheless, the acting and cinematography were great, and the movie was entertaining and spooky overall.