Antlers review – satisfyingly gross folklore horror

<span>Photograph: Fox Searchlight Pictures</span>
Photograph: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Keri Russell’s jittery but resilient school teacher Julia is worried about her young student Lucas (Jeremy T Thomas). A survivor of abuse, she’s attuned to its telltale signs. But there is something else Lucas is hiding; living locked in his basement is a Wendigo. An emaciated skeleton with fragile, coal-black bones and a deer’s face and antlers, the malevolent creature originates from First Nations folklore and feasts on human flesh. The cannibal has chosen the body of Lucas’s father, an opioid addict living among Oregon’s mining community, as its host.

Produced by monster fetishist Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) but directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), the mood is overly gloomy and lacking del Toro’s signature sparkle. Still, it’s satisfyingly gross – there’s plenty of black bile, crunching bones and half-chewed bodies. Russell, best known for her radiant portrayal of a domestic abuse survivor in Adrienne Shelly’s Waitress, is clever casting too.