By Emelie Peacock
Special to The Standard
A horror film in which the town of Hope plays a leading role is set to premiere in time for Halloween this year.
Locals may remember the large crew who made Hope their home for four days in November 2018, transforming venues including the Midtown Shopping Plaza and Peter’s Market into the town of Cispus Falls, Oregon where some truly creepy things are happening. With the pandemic delaying its release several times, Antlers will premiere in theatres Oct. 29. The film may be available for streaming after its 45-day theatrical run, yet no details about where it could stream have been confirmed.
Antlers is based on The Quiet Boy, a short story by writer on the film Nick Antosca, and on ancestral spirits including the Algonquin myth of the Windigo. A monster which kills and eats its victims, the Windigo is found in the stories of First Nations who speak Algonquin languages including the ‘Abenaki, Siksika, Mi’kmaq, Algonquin, Ojibwe and Innu.’
“According to most Algonquian oral traditions, a windigo is a cannibalistic monster that preys on the weak and socially disconnected,” The Canadian Encyclopedia stated. “In most versions of the legend, a human becomes a windigo after his or her spirit is corrupted by greed or weakened by extreme conditions, such as hunger and cold. In other legends, humans become windigos when possessed by a prowling spirit during a moment of weakness.”
While a windigo may be behind the horror in this film, real life horrors including the opioid crisis also play centre stage. As lead actress Keri Russell told the New York Post, the monster is really an analogy for the destruction of families by forces such as job loss, alcohol or illicit substances affecting small towns across North America.
Joining Russell, who plays a teacher, are Jesse Plemons (Hostiles, The Post) as Russell’s brother and sheriff, as well as Jeremy T. Thomas (Lore) as the young student. The film also stars Canadian actor Graham Greene (The Green Mile, Wind River, Dances with Wolves).
Canadian J. Miles Dale who produces the film together with Guillermo Del Toro and David S. Goyer, with Scott Cooper directing, said the crew chose Hope for the mood it elicited.
“We needed a town of a certain size with a certain look and where nature was kind of looming over everything in the form of mountains and fog,” he told the Hope Standard during the shooting of the film.
The film features Hope prominently, as well as scenes at Coquitlam’s Riverview Hospital, Squamish, Port Moody, Alouette Lake and the Blieberger farm in Langley.
The shooting was an economic boost with Dale estimating the production spent around $60- to $70,000 on hotel rooms for 160 cast and crew, this not including meals or other crew needs, and the District of Hope collected $10,325 in permits, parking enforcement and administration.