Antlers
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Director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro discussed their upcoming horror film during a comic-con panel on Saturday.

For his first horror film, "Antlers," which deals with a boy's relationship with a supernatural creature, director Scott Cooper said he was not ready to get behind the camera as a producer without Guillermo del Toro, the master creature. During a Comic-Con @ Home panel on Saturday, the two discussed how they created the partly digital, partly real creature.

Based on the short story "The Quiet Boy" by Nick Antosca ("Hannibal", "The Act"), the central supernatural character in "Antlers" is based on the Wendigo, a spirt that can be found in Algonquian folklore. Legends describe people who turn into Wendigos because of their greed or weakness and who are considered dangerous because of their thirst for blood and their ability to evoke evil.

"The Wendigo has very, very specific pointers that you need to follow," said del Toro. “The antlers, for example, are a must. I said, "We have to remember that we are not creating a monster, but a god." The design must therefore contain elements that are completely unnatural, almost surreal or abstract. "

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That means something that looks "ancient, powerful and one with nature," he said. For example, the filmmakers have decided to make the creature's bones look more like coal than anything that exists in a living being.

Cooper, director of Oscar-nominated "Crazy Heart", "Hostiles" and "Black Mass", said working with del Toro and his frequent collaborator, sketch artist Guy Davis, was a great learning experience. The three worked back and forth, constantly refining the ideas before the creature was actually made.

"Guillermo thought on a much, much deeper level: when we talk about what this murderous spirit is doing, it comes from the center of the earth – its crust, its ore, its embers – the Wendigo looks like this," Cooper said. "It's incredibly beautiful design. Then Shane Mahan of Legacy (Effects), who acted as creature effects supervisor, used a costume animatronic mix of techniques they used for" Avatar "," Jurassic "and" Terminator ".

Del Toro described this technique as similar since his 1997 film "Mimic" and more recently with his winner of the best picture "The Shape of Water", in which the eyes and micro-expressions of the physical monster were digitally added.

Cooper, who is white, said it was important for him to get Native American and First Nations experts to tell the story. Among them was the director of "Smoke Signals", Chris Eyre.

"The Wendigo is an allegory in which there is a spirt that reconciles what people do wrong," said Eyre in a featurette that debuted in front of the panel.

Other advisors included Grace L. Dillon, a professor at Portland State University, who Cooper said is the country's primary authority on the Wendigo.

"She was the one who really taught me that (for) Indians, First Nations, it's not folklore for them. It's not a myth," Cooper said. "They really, really believe in it because it represents greed and colonialism , when we first came to the coast of what is now America, looting all of their resources and forcing them to cannibalism, the taste of human flesh that gave birth to the Wendigo. ”

The release of "Antlers" in April was pushed back by Searchlight and is now set to hit theaters on February 19, 2021.

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