In the late seventies, a film called Antrum was released upon the world in a way that is every bit as ominous as it sounds. After a few showings, every person who watched it ended up dead, and the film was lost. That is until now, when a documentary crew tracked Antrum down and is showing the whole movie as part of a documentary called Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made. PS: None of this is real. Obviously.
Now Antrum, the actual feature, is a rather well-made movie. It captures the schlocky horror films from the seventies, with an obligatory VHS aesthetics and period-appropriate hair and clothes. The latter is always welcome, as too many movies of this type too often settle on a more cartoon-ish interpretation.
The plot, too, feels fitting for its era.
Nathan and his big sister Oralee are heading deep into the woods to find Antrum, the gateway to hell. Nathan’s mother has, as any good mother is wont to, told him his dead dog didn’t go to heaven because she was, and I quote,
bad. I mean, wow! In the woods, the siblings hope to save the dog’s soul by using a
grimoire (a book of spells) on the most unholy of spots. And as they get further into the spells from the book, disturbing things unearth, and what might have initially seemed like pretend, starts turning real.
Antrum could have held its own as a stand-alone movie. It is severely creepy at times, not with jump scares, but rather as something that
creeps under your skin, to quote the preceding documentary segment. True, the history of the film adds layers, quite literally with footage that seemingly recently has been cut into the movie. There are eerie Exorcist-type overlays, some obvious, others that will be missed if you blink. In that sense, the deeper lore of a film that has changed hands over decades does add to the creep factor.
Sadly, that is also where the cookie starts to crumble.
It’s hard not to watch Antrum and wonder if this really was a long-lost movie, why didn’t anyone track down the cast, crew, or studio behind it? It is stated up front that it was a commercially released movie, and finding some actual first-hand information should have been doable.
Too, wouldn’t the people behind the documentary and restoration have been killed from watching Antrum? There is sort of an explanation for this during the end-credit documentary segment, but it is flimsy at best.
I really can’t help but feel Antrum would have been better off released as a stand-alone movie without all the gimmicks. It’s perfectly creepy and disturbing in its own right. Adding some more depth and care to the documentary segments would have been an even better scenario, but I assume budgetary constraints put the kibosh on that.
By all means, though, give Antrum a view. It is an eerie, well thought out watch, wrapped in a so-so documentary.