It's kind of a given that horror movies are going to be dark affairs. It'd be pretty disappointing if they weren't, as audiences flock to these films to revel in the macabre, the gory, and the twisted.
Of course, there are levels to this. Nobody expects a PG-13 mainstream flick to test its audience too much, while some horror comedies don't actually seem all that bothered with cashing in on the former part of their sub-genre. Likewise, in order to - ironically - not scare off potential customers, trailers and marketing materials might try to broaden the appeal of a movie, hiding its harsher edges or a major twist the filmmakers want to keep secret.
As a result, we can still be taken by surprise when we choose to watch a horror film, only to be sucked in by a narrative that's way darker than we expected. Fortunately, this is often a good thing, and when a flick defies expectations to such a degree, it can leave fans talking about it for years to come.
Seriously, some of these nightmarish turns came out of nowhere.
Antlers kind of went under the radar when it released last year. Despite an incredible cast led by Keri Russell and Jesse Plemmons, this atmospheric wendigo horror failed to find a real audience, and it's hard to not point at the marketing as the reason why.
The first trailer was kind of generic, making it appear as nothing more than a standard elevated horror piece, rather than focusing on the film's darker themes or creature feature element.
That's a disservice, because Antlers is one of the gnarliest monster movies in some time. While it takes a while to get to the money shots, the wendigos are fully brought to life in all of their boney, inhuman glory. The kills are visceral, the gore comes in spades, and it isn't afraid to go hard on its pulpier elements.
However the real darkness comes from the lead characters, played by the aforementioned two actors. Plemmons and Russell play siblings reconnecting after years apart, both still reeling from the actions of their abusive father.
It's a dark, dark history that the film explores, but this human tragedy balances the more outlandish monster movie qualities.