This mockumentary creates its own urban legend in the form of “Antrum,” a film supposedly made in the late 1970s that has rarely been seen over the years, but those who actually have ended up dying soon after (or during, as when a theater showing a discovered print burned to the ground).
The wrap-around story presents testimonials from several people who discuss the murky origins of the film and cases in which it was viewed with fatal results. There are also claims “Antrum” has since-been altered by an unknown third party. Like many real speculative documentaries, it raises questions without really answering them, leaving it up to the viewer whether or not the “Antrum” curse is real or hogwash. These scenes aren’t particularly convincing, mainly because both the narrator and the interviewees always feel like the performers reciting a written screenplay.
It’s also established that a single print of the film has been recently discovered, setting up the movie-within-a-movie, “Antrum” itself. I did like the disclaimer preceding it, relinquishing the producers of all responsibility for anything that might occur during or after. Not much actually does, but writer-directors David Amito & Michael Laicini do a tremendous job making “Antrum” look and sound just like a product of the ‘70s.
|"I think there's more to growing tomatoes than this."|
The film’s retro aesthetic gives everything a creepy vibe, as do reactionary performances by Smith and Tompkins. For a while anyway, it’s all quietly unnerving, especially the “inserted” images and symbols scratched into the print itself. However, some sequences don’t actually amount to much and grow a little repetitive. The entire subplot involving cannibalistic hillbillies livens things up with its twisted implications, but seems to belong in another movie.
Still, Antrum: The Deadliest Movie Ever Made (the entire film’s actual title) is built on an interesting premise. The wrap-around scenes aren’t entirely successful, but “Antrum” itself overcomes its sometimes meandering story with a grim tone and disturbing imagery.