STREAMING REVIEWS: The new faces of horror

Published January 3, 2022, 7:25 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

The cast of ‘Antlers’ (from left) Jesse Plemons, Jeremy Thomas, and Keri Russell

Horror films remain to be a genre that enjoys much popularity, and here are two new contributions to the genre.

‘Antlers’

Antlers (Apple TV+) – Directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Black Mass), and with Guillermo del Toro listed among the producers, one would have high hopes that this supernatural horror film would carry a fair degree of gravitas beyond what one normally gets in the genre. Plus the cast includes Jesse Plemons as Paul Meadows the local sheriff, Keri Russell as his sister Julia, and a teacher at the local school, and haunting child actor Jeremy Thomas as Lucas Weaver, son of Frank who runs a meth lab, and brother to Aidan. It’s small town economics and terror, with bizarre connections to local Indian legends, such as the wendigo – an Algonquin creature that has a ravenous, cannibalistic spirit and jumps from body to body.

What sets the film apart, and bestows it a shot at the aforementioned gravitas, is how the film tackles the subject of child abuse, and whether there are historical precedents for it recurring within certain environments. As the school teacher, Julia had suffered abuse from her mentally ill, alcoholic father; and it’s her tragic history that has her trying to reach out to Lucas when he begins exhibiting strange behavior and coming up with disturbing drawings in the classroom. It doesn’t help that he’s seen collecting road kill and killing small animals to bring home – and no one has seen Frank or Aidan. The narrative has to do with us unraveling the mystery lying at the bottom of the Weaver house, and whether Julia and Paul have a chance of saving Lucas from his fate.

‘Censor’

Censor (Video on Demand) – A psychological horror film, this one picks up from a nostalgic theme. For those who can still remember, the UK in the mid-1980’s was marked by the controversy surrounding the ‘video nasties’, and how violence as depicted in film was being seriously attacked by the more conservative forces of society. The British Board of Film Classification was pressured to cut and outright ban violent content. Our lead character, Enid Baines (Niamh Algar) works for the Board, and she’s called Little Miss Perfect behind her back, due to her strict standards about film cuts. And what the premise of this film promises, is how Enid will soon become the nightmare of her own dreams.

It starts off when she’s asked to screen one of the old films of a film producer, and believes the events depicted parallel too closely what happened in her own family – when her younger sister disappeared. While her parents have declared Nina legally dead, Enid is obsessed with the notion that Nina is merely missing. And so when one of the producer’s films has a female lead named Alice Lee, Enid is convinced that Alice is Nina, and she’s needs saving from a film industry that’s exploiting her. It’s a narrative that carries a lot of promise, recalling the violent and bloody giallo films of the 1970s, spilling into the 80s, coupled with the irony of the censor herself being the one ready to commit murder and mayhem in the name of saving her ‘sister’. This one works in a weird way, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

 
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