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Starring: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Amy Madigan, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Cody Davis, Sawyer Jones
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Supernatural horror directed by Scott Cooper, and produced by Guillermo del Toro. Antlers (2021) follows a small-town Oregon teacher, Julia Meadows (Keri Russell), and her brother, Paul Meadows (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, who become entwined with a young student, Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas), harboring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences.
Our Favorite Quote:
Julia Meadows: [to her students] So, storytelling is a way for people to explain their world, their culture, passing on customs and beliefs from one generation to the next. In America, and especially here in Oregon, storytelling started with our indigenous people. Native Americans who were teaching the younger people, in their communities about their culture and identities. Can anyone give me an example of a fable, or a myth? Or a fairy tale even.
Julia Meadows: [referring to Goldilocks fairy tale] So, is there a moral, or a lesson in that story?
Jasmine Drury: Yes. Don’t eat bears food without permission.
Julia Meadows: That’s right. Don’t take something that’s not yours.
Paul Meadows: Hey, sis. How was school?
Julia Meadows: It’s about the same.
Paul Meadows: Just give it time. They’ll warm to you.
Julia Meadows: I’m not sure it’s about warming. You know, it’s just not what I hoped it would be.
Julia Meadows: I barely recognize this place anymore.
Paul Meadows: Yeah, well, a lot can change in twenty years. It’s our own little slice of paradise here.
Julia Meadows: I know you’ve been working on a story. Will you read us a little bit?
Lucas Weaver: [reading his story] Once, there were three bears that lived in a dark and wet cave up above a small town. Big Bear, Little Bear, and Baby Bear. Big Bear used to take care of the little bears. But Big Bear got sick. Lost his job. And his insides turned black. One day, Little Bear came home, and Big Bear, and Baby Bear were different. Big Bear’s sickness had gotten worse. Big Bear has become more angrier, and meaner, because they had no food, no meat.
Julia Meadows: It’s very good, Lucas.
Lucas Weaver: But they had each other.
Julia Meadows: I wanted to know if ice cream is your favorite vegetable. Because it’s mine.
Lucas Weaver: Ice cream isn’t a vegetable.
Julia Meadows: Yeah, it is.
Lucas Weaver: It’s a dessert.
Julia Meadows: To most people, yeah. But to me? Totally a vegetable.
Julia Meadows: So, if ice cream is a vegetable, what’s your favorite fruit? Come on.
Lucas Weaver: Donuts?
Julia Meadows: Mine too. Chocolate, obviously. I also like cheeseburgers as a fruit.
Julia Meadows: What about your brother? Does he like ice cream?
Lucas Weaver: How do you know I have a brother?
Julia Meadows: Teachers know everything. So where is he?
Lucas Weaver: At home.
Julia Meadows: With your mom?
Lucas Weaver: If you knew everything, then you would know my mom’s dead.
Julia Meadows: You have every right to resent me. I don’t blame you for that. I know you couldn’t have understood then, but I couldn’t stay in this house anymore. Just know that I have spent my life, trying to deal with leaving you, and resolve my issues. And it has not been easy.
Paul Meadows: Yeah, and I’ve spent my entire life praying you’d come back.
Paul Meadows: [referring to Lucas’s father] Every time I see him, I expect to find Frank dead with a needle in his arm.
Julia Meadows: So why isn’t he in jail?
Paul Meadows: I don’t know. I’ve tried many times. But he goes away, who takes care of the boys?
Julia Meadows: You can’t do that. You can’t go to Frank Weaver’s house without telling me.
Paul Meadows: I heard something, and it was not normal.
Julia Meadows: Do you understand? You can’t do that.
Paul Meadows: Everyone thinks these problems are just going to go away, and we know that they don’t.
Julia Meadows: [to Ellen, referring to Lucas’s drawings] That is a cry for help. Take it from someone who can diagnose abuse.
Julia Meadows: What’s going on?
Paul Meadows: [referring to Stokes] He found a part of a man in the woods today.
Julia Meadows: Part of a man?
Paul Meadows: [referring to Stokes] He said he was hiking up near Greymouth, when a stench led him to a man half buried in the woods. I guess the other half was found in the mine, near a meth lab. It was probably a bear, or a cougar, something.
Julia Meadows: Jesus.
Paul Meadows: Well, from what he just told me, I don’t think Jesus was anywhere to be found.
Aiden Weaver: Is God really dead?
Lucas Weaver: What?
Aiden Weaver: Daddy said God is dead.
Lucas Weaver: Just remember what Mama told us. Me and you, we was born under the lucky star.
Paul Meadows: This has got to be an animal, right?
Dr. Gerald Ferguson: No animal that I’ve ever seen. What’s more troubling are the teeth marks, on the radial bone. They seem human. I don’t quite know what to tell you, Paul.
Principal Ellen Booth: [after finding Aiden locked up in the house] Oh, my God. You must be starving. What has he done to you?
[after which Frank attacks and kills her, antlers burst out of him]
Daniel Lecroy: [referring to the Weavers home] F***ing place smells like death.
Paul Meadows: Yeah, there’s something wrong here.
Julia Meadows: [referring to Ellen and Clint missing] This is all related.
Paul Meadows: What would you like me to f***ing do?
Julia Meadows: You cannot tell me that it isn’t.
Paul Meadows: It’s charred. It’s burnt.
Forensic Officer: And flayed.
Paul Meadows: It’s got to be Frank Weaver.
Daniel Lecroy: Yeah, the teeth will tell us.
Forensic Officer: Looks like something just burst out of him.
Paul Meadows: [referring to Lucas] We can’t. No.
Julia Meadows: He has no one. We don’t know where the brother is. So where’s he going to go?
Paul Meadows: I have no idea right now, but he is not your responsibility.
Julia Meadows: He doesn’t have a family. And he’s my student. So he is my responsibility.
Paul Meadows: [referring to Lucas] Don’t put our past on him.
Julia Meadows: Oh, I’m sorry. Did he snap your arm in two? Did he force you to hide under the floor of that kitchen, praying he would never come home? Did you have to meet his every f***ing need? Because I don’t remember that.
Paul Meadows: You have no idea what he did to me.
Frank Weaver: [flashback to after Frank and Aiden are attacked by the creature] Look at me. Daddy is very, very sick. You lock that f***ing door. No matter what I do, you don’t open that door. You hear me? Lock it! Lock the door!
Warren Stokes: [referring to the Lucas’s drawing] Where did you find this?
Julia Meadows: Belongs to a student.
Warren Stokes: Is the student Native?
Julia Meadows: No.
Warren Stokes: How can that be?
Julia Meadows: I don’t know. He isn’t.
Warren Stokes: [showing them a drawing of the creature] This is what was in the mine. It’s the wendigo. Translates to a diabolical wickedness that devours mankind. According to legend, during a brutally cold winter, a lost hunter’s severe hunger drove him to cannibalism. And after feasting on human flesh, he became crazed, and transformed into an amorphous spirit that could take many forms, and roamed the forest for fresh victims. His insatiable appetite was never satisfied.
Paul Meadows: Excuse me. This is a myth you’re talking about.
Warren Stokes: For you, yeah. But a cautionary tale to the indigenous people who believe in it. They’re elusive. And known to be eternally starving, but feasting only makes them hungrier. And weaker. Those who are unfortunate enough to encounter one can only kill it when it’s in its weakened state. And only by extinguishing its beating heart, forcing it to search for another host. But it all makes sense, you see. I mean, our ancestral spirits never died. They were here long before we were, and they’ll be here long after we are gone. But now, they’re angry.
Daniel Lecroy: [referring to Clint] That boy was eaten in half. The f*** is going on here?
Paul Meadows: I don’t know, Dan.
Paul Meadows: I’m sorry. I’m not inclined to believe anybody about some mythological nature beast. Things like that don’t exist, Jules. Regardless of what Stokes said. There’s a logical, reasonable explanation for this.