David Amito and Michael Laichi (director)
23 October 2020 (released)
The dangerous lost film is one of the horror genres more intriguing subsets that usually has awful tales about the film screenings. Sometimes we never see the film – done very effectively in Fury of the Demon from Fabien Delage. In others we get glimpses and sections as in Keola Racela’s Porno. With Antrum we have a documentary about the film and its full presentation.
The mock documentary presents us with tales of film screenings where the cursed film was presented with a theatre burning down and, in another people, acting oddly during the film’s final showing when it was subsequently discovered that the popcorn butter had been tampered!
To add to the furtive air there are the stories of the film being tampered with strange additions and insertions. It is eventually found and we are presented the film along with a warning.
The film (which is the main feature if you like) is grounded in the 70’s with that decade’s soft colours and dull palates which look very convincing. The plot is brother and sister Nathan (Rowan Smyth) and Oralee (Nicole Tompkins) going into a cursed forest to dig a hole opening a portal to hell to bring back their dead dog or save its soul having been sent there because he had been bad.
This is actually quite a slow section as the siblings set about making camp, digging the hole, protecting themselves with faux relics and a pentagram. From that there’s a fair amount of digging and ambling around coming upon a rotting body and stumbling on a man about to commit hara-kiri. It’s a strange set of circumstances with Latin and esoteric inserts with what could be a demon squirrel.
With the film is divided into the layers taken from the book that Oralee is using to guide the dig. Dante comes to mind but that’s a very superficial reference. There’s more of a resemblance to 1970’s UK children’s programmes that at the time were delving into folklore and the supernatural notably Children of the Stones.
However that gets blown away and the film goes off quilter when they encounter a zonked pair with a diabolic barbeque set up. The ensuing scenes lose some of the disquieting air that writers and directors David Amito and Michael Laichi had been building.
The film is bookended by talking heads who come up with some stats about the additions to the film but not really add too much else. It’s an interesting film and idea that doesn’t quite come off but nevertheless
Antrum will be released in cinemas from 23 October and DVD & Digital from 26 October.