A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The main theme here seems to have something to do with how people might have a tendency to stick with their blood relations (i.e. "the devil they know") despite abusive treatment, rather than try to seek help. It's a pretty bleak theme, and it offers no hope or solution and leaves off on a pessimistic note.
Positive Role Models
Julia Meadows goes out of her way -- even breaking some rules and performing some pretty brutal acts -- to help a child in danger. It's clear that she's partly doing this as a response to her childhood trauma, as a way to ease her own suffering, but even so, she could have looked the other way and didn't.
The main character/the story's driving force is a woman, and while her history includes victimization and pain, she's ultimately a strong character. But her story arc is flat, and she doesn't have much depth. An elderly Native American man reads from his spirit guide and tells the White characters about the origin of the movie's creature; it's a terribly clichéd role, and the character has little to do outside this one task. Aside from a female school principal (who unwisely blunders to her own doom), most of the rest of the characters are White men.
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Violence & Scariness
Extreme gore: dead animal entrails, a child slicing up a dead animal, monster eating raw meat, mutilated corpses, blood smears, vicious monster attacks, characters pierced with antlers, organs ripped out. Mutating monster, with brutal sound effects. Children in peril. Child pokes own hand with sharp edge, draws blood. Flashbacks suggest that a father is sexually abusing his daughter. Jump-scares. A child appears to be about to smash a skunk with a rock. Bullies at school. Child tears the head from a sock monkey. Spooky drawings.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Bullies make a rude sexual gesture.
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Many uses of "f--k," plus "motherf----r," "s--t," "ass," "damn," "p---y," "f--got," "oh my God," "God Almighty" and "Jesus/Jesus Christ."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character seems tempted, twice, to buy a bottle of liquor at the store, but she resists.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Antlers is a horror movie about a teacher (Keri Russell) who thinks that one of her students is a victim of abuse and eventually faces something terrible. It's a very dark, brutal movie with extreme gore and disturbing scenes of children in peril; despite interesting characters and creature design, it also relies on tired cliches and jump-scares. Expect to see graphic images of entrails, blood smears, sliced-up dead animals, organs being ripped out, vicious attacks, mutilated corpses, etc. There's also bullying and the suggestion that a father is sexually abusing his daughter. Language includes several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "ass," "p---y," and "f--got." Bullies use a rude sexual gesture at school. The main character seems tempted by bottles of liquor in a store in two scenes, but she resists buying them. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This horror tale benefits from interesting characters and performances -- and rather astonishing monster design -- but it suffers from too many cliches and jump-scares as the story wears a bit thin. Director Scott Cooper has jumped around among genres -- music drama (Crazy Heart), crime (Out of the Furnace), gangster story (Black Mass), Western (Hostiles) -- with fairly generic results each time, and Antlers, his fifth movie and first foray into horror, is no different (although the child-in-peril elements are a lot). As a former actor himself, Cooper does shape performances well. Russell's Julia wears her dark past like a festering wound, and the pain drives her forward. Plemons' Paul, on the other hand, has let tragedy beat him down; he's reluctant and sadly ineffectual. On the down side, Oscar-nominee Graham Greene is stuck in the cliched role of a wise old man who knows the truth about the monster.
Cooper's depiction of a dying town is quite powerful, even if the point is driven home a bit strongly. The movie demonstrates how a focus on corporations and profits leaves many people out in the cold. (Literally: Antlers has a chilling, wintry atmosphere and a feeling of frozen mud.) But after Cooper gets the story going, he isn't able to build a terrorizing rhythm. He falls back on old-time chestnuts like characters wandering around alone in the dark and making silly mistakes, basic jump-scares, and using brute force when ideas are called for. The truly mind-blowing monster, accompanied by hideous sound effects and a powerful score by Javier Navarrete (of Pan's Labyrinth; Guillermo Del Toro was a producer here), may win over some horror hounds. But for most others, it'll be a moot point.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.