Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made (2019) Strives to Live Up to Its Name
Updated: May 8, 2021
Title: Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made
First Wide Release: November 12, 2019 (Streaming Platforms)
Director: David Amito, Michael Laicini
Writer: David Amito and Michael Laicini
Runtime: 95 Minutes
Starring: Nicole Tompkins, Rowan Smyth, Dan Istrate
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Free
With their first feature-length horror film, directors David Amito and Michael Laicini take viewers on a strange journey into hell with Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made. A movie within a movie, Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made begins as a faux-documentary about a cursed film that kills all who dare to watch it. The contents of the film follow the story of a young boy and girl traveling together in the woods. After the death of their beloved dog, Maxine, the two siblings trek deep into the forest to dig a hole to hell to save Maxine's soul.
Many people might be turned off by the first ten minutes of Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made when it makes the assertion that this film will kill them soon after watching. I found that it made for an interesting framing device for the narrative. Once “Antrum” starts, it follows a typical story arc of two kids succumbing to paranoia in the woods. Is what they are seeing and experiencing real, or just a figment of their imaginations? I greatly enjoyed the idea that the deeper the kids dug the hole, the further they descended into hell. I wish that it was executed a bit clearer and more consistently, but overall it was an interesting barometer to measure the increasing chaos on-screen.
Nicole Thompkins and Rowan Smyth give exceptional performances as Oralee and Nathan throughout the “Antrum” portion of Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made. Their naivety felt genuine and earned and makes the situation they are in even more horrific. I found Thompkins’ Oralee to be a very caring and protective older sister, but never felt like we knew her beyond that role, which was more a fault of the script than Thompkins’ ability as an actress. Oralee is a character that showcases tremendous mental fortitude and critical thinking skills, however, which audiences should find refreshing. Smyth’s Nathan, however, was more fleshed out and he ends up completing a very satisfying character arc by the final reel.
The biggest victories are scored during the “Antrum” segment where Amito and Laicini take viewers on a harrowing journey through hell on earth. “Antrum” shines with its haunting imagery while transporting viewers back to the ‘70s. Washed in grainy cinematography and cloaked in beautiful autumnal forest landscapes, “Antrum” feels like a relic long forgotten in a warehouse, discovered, and played only for the first time since its mysterious disappearance. The wraparound segment looks typical for faux-documentary horror yet is serviceable.Thankfully, the movie doesn’t jump back and forth, as that would have changed the experience drastically.
I found myself completely captivated by the editing and sound choices of Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made. Throughout the “Antrum” feature, there are small slices of unrelated scenes or grainy demonic symbols imprinted on the film that only flash for a second or two. While regularly occurring, they ultimately elevate the film to creepier heights without feeling overused. It gives Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made a different flavor than its demonic contemporaries. The sound design was especially instrumental in crafting the dark atmosphere. The trumpets of hell blast several times throughout the feature, and it sent chills up my spine every time. A relentless assault on the senses, the combination expertly amplified the horror of “Antrum.”
Drenched in dread, Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made is a slow-burn descent into hell. Amito and Laicini do great work in building the tension throughout the film. The mythology felt fully fleshed out and the story of “Antrum” escalated naturally amidst the carnage. My biggest issue with the film revolves around the wraparound segment. It feels like a prologue and epilogue that either could have been expanded upon further or summarized in a few words before the “Antrum” segment started. The compromise felt awkward. Overall, its length felt like a misfire to me.
Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made may not have much to say in terms of social commentary but it definitely serves as a wonderful morality tale. Death is a hard thing for children to understand, especially if explained poorly. Had this been done for one of our protagonists, the events of the film segment would not happen. Furthermore, the entirety of Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made feels taboo and forbidden. Not only because of its claims that it will kill the viewer upon viewing but because the content crosses boundaries that usually remain unventured in most horror films. It never feels like “Antrum” crosses the line for simple shock value but more so to indicate the idea of passing into hell.
I thoroughly enjoyed Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made despite some of its shortcomings. It was quirky yet unsettling, often straddling its exaggerated premise and content with some interesting ideas. There are very few films that are comparable to its unique narrative structure and framing. I recommend this film to anyone who seeks out faux-documentary films and/or strong indie efforts. Beyond the gimmick, Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made is a fun and frightening film that will get under your skin in the most devilish of ways.
Overall Score? 7.5/10