Not since ‘The Blair Witch Project’ has a Genre film duped audiences quite so deliciously.
‘Antrum; The Deadliest Film Ever Made’ crept up on the Underground Horror community out of leftfield in Autumn of this year.
News of an alleged newly discovered copy of the original 35mm print of Antrum hit Social Media hard, building an overnight Cult following among Gorehounds and, Arthouse aficionados alike.
Much like the early hysteria surrounding Ruggero Dedodato’s ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, Antrum warns of the film posing a serious risk to health including: Seizures, Trauma, Anxiety, Panic and of course, Death.
News of this cursed film generated hushed interest online, challenging viewers to watch it in it’s entirety and, late one december night I decided to see what all of the fuss was about.
Antrum is a cleverly crafted film.
It operates on the premise of being cursed, appealing to people’s morbid curiosity while reinventing the ‘Satanic Panic’ genre of Horror popularised in the 1970’s and 80’s.
The first fifteen minutes of Antrum serve as a ‘film within a film’, opening with a ‘Documentary’ detailing the films warnings, with film critics discussing the many tragedies to befall Antrum’s audience.
The tragedies and unexplained deaths following the films release are quoted as:
”Shot in 1979, the experimental drama submitted to seven film festivals in 1983. All seven events rejected the movie.
Bizarrely, several festival programmers still experienced fatal incidents following their private screenings of the film.
One woman died of a seizure 24 hours after her viewing the film.
One man was mysteriously electrocuted. Another suffered a sting from a venomous fish.
”In 1988, 56 people died in Budapest when a small theatre burned to the ground during an “Antrum” screening.
Arson investigators concluded that the fire didn’t start in the projection booth as they had first suspected. Suspicious combustions spontaneously started from multiple sources in the audience.
Spoiler alert: the aforementioned incidents are fake.
David Amito and Michael Laicini have pulled off a creepy trick convincing audiences that they have just witnessed an actual abominable Ritual, while risking their very Souls in the process.
John Carpenter’s ‘Cigarette Burns’ serves as a clear inspiration; a ‘Masters Of Horror’ tale where a man hunts for a copy of a cursed film which is rumoured to send its audience into a frenzied panic before combusting into flames… sound familiar?
Antrum is pure joyful storytelling, conjuring up images of Childhood camaraderie and, the Rituals of secret games and hidden messages.
The story centres on two siblings, Oralee and her younger brother Nathan who leave home on a quest to retrieve the soul of their recently deceased dog, Maxine.
Nathan is distraught, perhaps even traumatized following the death of his beloved Maxine and, suffers recurring nightmares of her soul being condemned to Hell.
Concerned for her brothers emotional wellbeing, Oralee convinces Nathan that she knows of the entrance to Hell; the exact spot were Lucifer fell to Earth after being cast out of Heaven.
The siblings embark on a journey into the Forest to search for the Hellmouth in order to save Maxine’s soul.
Antrum is shot in a dreamlike quality, merging bleached sepia tones with added grain lending it a genuine 70’s Grindhouse feel.
The siblings’ journey showcases lingering shots of Flora & Fauna, bathed in the honeysuckle haze of long Summer hours.
The opening scenes hold a similar vibe to ‘Stand By Me’ where we enjoy the bond between Oralee and Nathan as they bond, hunt and, play.
The story itself plays out similarly to King’s ‘Pet Sematary’ however, it’s shot-on-video quality lends it the added unsettling feeling that you are witnessing actual documentation of a nightmare.
Armed with a DIY book of Necromancy, Oralee consults it’s pages for details surrounding the different layers of Hell which the siblings must overcome in order to retrieve Maxine’s soul.
Oralee’s book chronicles different Mythologies and, Occult references including the Greek Mythology of Cerebrus- a story thread which subtly sets up the film’s heartbreaking climax.
Within the pages of this book, we catch glimpses of Satanic and, Occult Sigils and symbols- keep an eye out for these Sigils as they appear often in single frame images during the actual movie.
These subliminal images play a large role in unnerving the Viewer; flashes of the Daemon Astaroth’s symbol appears A LOT.
As well as repetitive imagery, the film appears to use a lot of low frequency sounds and, frequencies of around 19hz are said to cause fear and, awe in Humans.
These Infrasounds or, ‘Ghost Sounds’ play an important role in the world building of Antrum- causing physical responses of unease and, anxiety in those who may be susceptible to subliminal manipulations.
Added to the mix are flashes of what appear to be black & white Snuff film images of an abused/ beaten man and, woman posing bloody in a basement.
Towards the story’s climax, we also see dark lingering images of beautifully grotesque Demon faces reminiscent of the floating Demon face seen in ‘The Exorcist’.
Yet, the penultimate Horror, the Absolute Daddy Of Abominations is revealed in full, foul glory towards the film’s Climax.
The towering metal figure of a giant Horned Goat Daemon, complete with erect phallus will forever burn it’s way into your memory.
Imagine if The Wicker Man were crafted in the image of Baphomet and, you still have no idea of the impact of seeing this thing.
It is Badass and, impressive.
In retrospect, It would be unfair to compare Antrum to ‘The Exorcist’ or, any other Classic Satanic Horror film because at it’s heart, Antrum is actually an emotional Coming Of Age tale about the secret relationships shared by Siblings, the discovery of Grief and, the powerful bond between Man and, Dog.
Antrum’s strength lies within it’s Mythos Building and, the transformative power of Storytelling at it’s core.
The film succeeds in presenting it’s own horrifying Mythology, leaving the viewer either emotionally drained or, yearning for more depending on their disposition.
Antrum is worth tracking down and, perhaps if the stars align just right, we will get to see it in theatres… provided that they don’t burn down first.
Antrum is currently available on VOD via Amazon Prime Video (UK)