Films about cursed films. There has been all manner of them. Ones like Popcorn and Porno where the killer comes off the screen to indulge in real-life violence. John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns about the search for a cursed film. Or Fury Of The Demon, a mockumentary about a film that drives its audiences to murder. Now we have Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made.
Writer/directors Michael Laicini and David Amito have made a faux 1970s supernatural horror film, Antrum, and bookended it with equally fake documentary footage about its lethal effects. The footage is low key and believable. It looks like something you would see in a talking head type documentary. The audience gets a quick lesson about the suspicious deaths and tragic attempts at public screenings associated with the film.
The film itself opens with credits in a foreign language, Greek I think. The movie, however, is in what appears to be badly dubbed English. The plot is deceptively simple. Nathan (Rowan Smyth) has just witnessed his dog Maxine being put to sleep. His mother’s comment that she was a bad dog has him convinced that Maxine is now burning in Hell. To put his mind at ease his older sister Oralee (Nicole Tompkins, The Amityville Terror) takes him into the woods with what she claims is a genuine grimoire. They’ll dig a hole through the layers of Hell and use the book’s spells to rescue Maxine.
However, as they dig deeper strange events begin unfolding around them. They interrupt a Japanese man preparing to commit seppuku. Nathan digs up a loaded gun. Something they’ll need as sinister figures soon appear in the forest. Coincidence? Madness? Or the unintended results of playing with dark forces?
Antrum does a remarkable job of capturing the look and feel of a 70s genre film. The grainy, somewhat washed-out look is authentic in appearance, not overdone. There are some scratches but again, it’s not overdone like so many faux grindhouse films. It also makes use of subliminal images of occult symbols and seemingly randomly inserted images including some of torture. The soundtrack drips with ominous sounds and voices.
The main problem is, that while it does manage to send the occasional chill up the spine, Antrum is a bit to tame. The fact that it’s allegedly cursed gives the expectation that its contents will be shocking. There’s a naked woman but you don’t see any naughty bits. There’s a human sacrifice, but we only hear it. Apart from a brief, long-distance shot of a man doing a deer carcass this would probably have gotten a PG in its time.
Antrum reminded me a lot of Equinox, though without the monsters. There are also scenes reminiscent of Let’s Scare Jessica To Death and Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural. Effectively creepy yes, but this really needed to up the stakes and deliver I Drink Your Blood gore. Or Texas Chainsaw Massacre intensity. Instead, it feels like the “Edited For Network Broadcast” version of a true exploitation film.
Antrum is a hard film to give a final rating to. It hits enough memories both of the various PG horrors of its time and of the edited for TV versions that were some of my first exposure to the genre that I found it entertaining. And, as I said, it does have legitimately scary moments. But to be effective as what it claims to be, it needed to be something else. And it disappoints by not being that at all.
Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made is finishing out its festival run and I saw it as part of the Buried Alive Film Festival 2019. Uncork’d Entertainment has picked it up for release. You can check its website and Facebook page for details.