During the 1970s, a little known horror film about a young brother and sister who get embroiled in a Satanic ritual was directly blamed for over 60 deaths. During its only public showing, the small Hungarian theatre in which it was shown burnt down leaving 56 dead. In addition to this, several film festival personnel died shortly after seeing the film and in its last private showing in California, a drug-induced stampede caused the death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child. This film was called Antrum, thought to be deleted and lost until a negative print was discovered in Hungary earlier this year.
Did this all happen? No, of course, it didn’t. It’s all bollocks. But it’s the clunky marketing spiel for new Horror flick from Jinga Films; Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made. A quick hint, if you’re going to pretend you have a lost film from the 70s, make sure you don’t list the thing on IMDB with actors who were born 30 years after their performance.
The feature itself starts with a quick preview detailing the incidents mentioned above, including warnings that ‘some frequencies can cause nervous breakdowns’ (Bernard Manning’s ‘One poor kid puked up his own pelvis’ anyone?) and an advisory notice not dissimilar to South Park warning no-one to watch it. When we do eventually get around to the actual film in mention, we realise we only have an hour of running time left. The plot you ask? Ok. You asked for it.
After a family’s pet mutt is despatched by lethal injection, the kindly mother (presumably on her way to an attachment parenting convention) gently mentions to her 8-year old that Fido won’t be going to heaven but to hell instead as he was a bad dog. What the hell mum? Cue older sister deciding to take her brother to the (handily nearby) exact spot where Satan landed after being thrown out from Heaven? Why? To dig to hell and free the dog’s soul from Hades of course. Once the siblings get to the rather disappointing looking spot of Lucifer’s first and last touch of earth, they set up camp and start to dig down. What is most surprising is how near the surface hell actually is; within a couple of hours of digging they are down to the second level. With a JCB VP Diesel Microdigger you could be down to Treachery before lunch. After this, predictably strange things randomly happen involving weirdos in the wood who don’t really seem anything to do with the plot at all, subliminal flicks of people bleeding and lots of screaming.
And this is the main problem with Antrum; what is it trying to be? Is it really meant to evoke Blair Witch audiences piling out of cinemas in terror thinking all this was real? No, because it’s just not scary enough and the ‘deadliest film’ premise is gone the moment you check the internet. Is it meant to be a comedy? Tongue in cheek? It certainly has aspects to make you think so; a frankly ridiculous part stop motion, part automaton squirrel demon thing, a steampunk Wickerman contraption which looks like it was made by Year 1 junk modellers and a bloke shagging a dead deer (not funny? Just me then). Yet these moments aren’t frequent enough to warrant a comedy tag. Ah, so is it odd? That’s ‘odd’ or odd (one marketeer’s mind-map arm from ‘cult’). Well, it’s certainly odd, but in a contrived way, the way a yoga teacher called Rainbow living in the Cotswolds with pink hair is odd. It tries to be odd and nothing that tries to be odd can be truly odd. It’s the juxtaposition of genius and insanity producing the same work. One is engineered, one is written in shit on the back of a Ford Transit.
It’s very difficult to pick out any positives from Antrum. The concept could have worked with more effort on the marketing side to support the story a little more, but once that fantasy has been blown, Antrum just becomes a rather confused little film and unforgivably dull.
Dir: David Amito, Michael Laicini
Scr: David Amito, Michael Laicini
Cast: Nicole Tompkins, Rown Smyth
Prd: David Amito, Michael Laicini, David Bond, Eric Thirteen
Music: Alicia Fricker
DOP: Maksymilian Milczarczyk
Run Time: 135 Minutes
Antrum will be in UK Cinemas from 23rd October and DVD & Digital Download from 26th October