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  Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made Beat The Curse
Year: 2018
Director: David Amito, Michael Laicini
Stars: Nicole Tompkins, Rowan Smyth, Dan Istrate, Circus-Szalewski, Shu Sakimoto, Kristel Elling, Lucy Rayner, Pierluca Arancio
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Is Antrum really the deadliest film ever made? Supposedly made some time in the late nineteen-seventies, it has been sporadically seen since, but solely in circumstances that encourage its reputation as a cursed movie. In Budapest in 1988, for instance, a print was shown at a festival which was struck with mysterious tragedy when a fire broke out in the auditorium and killed all the patrons. When it was shown in America years later, a riot broke out among the audience which injured many and killed a pregnant woman in the stampede for the exits, which had been locked, the effects of an employee who had trapped them and laced the popcorn with LSD. Now, here is your chance to see the film and judge for yourself - if you dare.

And the band played believe it if you like. Antrum was another child of The Blair Witch Project, the daddy of the found footage genre (the granddaddy being Cannibal Holocaust, which trounces anything here for bad taste) and featured that staple, the wandering around the isolated location sequences, which in this case was a seventies brother and sister, Oralee (Nicole Tompkins) and younger Nathan (Rowan Smyth). They are in the woods to see if they can find a portal to Hell to lay the spirit of Nathan's recently deceased dog to rest, after Oralee convinced the kid it was damned for some reason, so a camping trip involving, er, digging a big hole in the ground has been arranged to teach him a lesson - either that or make him feel a bit better about his dead pet.

As with the seventies low-budgeters, directors David Amito and Michael Laicini stretch out a slender premise to snapping point, relying on the idea that a well-chosen location and some eerie music on the soundtrack will be sufficient to keep the audience watching. It was pot luck with even the originals that inspired Antrum whether that would succeed with you, as Blair Witch demonstrated, what could be utterly convincing to one person could be laughably tedious to another, and this example was not easy to swallow, plainly having been shot on digital and treated with a film effect and pretend flaws due to its supposed age. Nor were the cast completely believable as from the era they were claimed to be, and this gave us a lot of space to consider the lack of a ring of truth about the whole shebang thanks to its lack of incident, or at least its repetition of key imagery.

If the fact the filmmakers were essentially drumming up interest in a pretty minor horror with all these "This is a true story" shenanigans was a major turn-off for you as a cinematic purist with rarefied tastes, you were certainly not going to get along with Antrum. If, however, you were able to have more of a sense of humour, or a sense of perspective, anyway, about what a small team of filmmakers working on limited means were able to do to get their efforts seen, the there was some amusement to be had here. They certainly were toiling bloody hard to at least generate a semblance of authenticity even if they didn't pull it off - for some, however, despite being aware there was a trick being staged, they enjoyed the techniques and didn't mind suspending their disbelief. Should you have no problem with meeting this halfway, as a pastiche it contained elements that were intermittently impressive or freaky in a non-cliché way, such as the animated puppet squirrel or the Baphomet cast iron oven you just know someone is going to be stuffed into, Hansel and Gretel-style. There was a reason audiences got tired of these, but this wasn't so bad.

[Antrum will be in UK Cinemas from 23rd October, and then DVD & Digital Download from 26th October.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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