‘Antlers’ comes up little short on scare factors

Rick's Reviews

A school teacher (Keri Russell) tries to protect a student (Jeremy T. Jones from a killer creature in “Antlers.” (Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight)

The limited number of options for the new year of entertainment starts with a tale of terror.

“Antlers” Grade 2 ½ stars: A small town in Oregon – where the skies are cloudy all day – is terrorized by what many through was just a myth. The arrival of the dreaded wendigo creates panic and fear with each gruesome death.

All of the terror seems to swirl around a troubled young boy whose quiet nature and nightmarish drawings attract the attention of the new school teacher, Julia Medows (Keri Russell). She understands trouble having left the small town years ago because of terror in her own home.

Julia turns to her brother, Paul (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, to help her figure out why the young boy is acting so weird. What they find ignites a series of deadly encounters.

The script – co-written by director Scott Cooper – takes a standard horror path. The town is creepy because of the continuous bad weather. Most of the people who live there seem to always be on edge. The person with the most emotional baggage is the one who saves the day. And, there is a strange creature causing all the ruckus.

The fact master of horror Guillermo del Toro is a producer should have been enough to give this mediocre story a little nudge into more macabre areas. But, Cooper’s inexperience as a director – especially with this genre – is too much for even the maestro to correct.

There is one other major problem. Putting a child in danger is just a lazy way to try to win over an audience. What really happens is there is more sympathy shown for the characters who should be feared.

Overall, “Antlers” has no glaring problems. It also has no real reasons to cheer for the project. It’s little more than mildly entertaining.

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