Uncork’d Entertainment has acquired the North American rights to distribute Else Films’ underground horror feature ANTRUM: THE DEADLIEST FILM EVER MADE. Written and directed by Michael Laicini and David Amito, ANTRUM presents itself as a cursed film from the 1970s. Through several layers of lost and uncovered footage, it explores how audiences allow horror films to frighten them long past their viewing experience. The film’s announcement was made today by executive producer Eric Thirteen.
“ANTRUM was a secret film making its way around the film industry…the kind of elusive oddity that only certain people were able to see,” Thirteen recalls. “When I found it, it wasn’t at all what I expected. I used to hear people say it was a mockumentary, but it turns out that isn’t true. There’s so much misinformation out there because the movie was surrounded in mystery. This week’s announcement is that the film is finally coming out. You won’t have to go to an occult book store and whisper a secret word. You’ll actually be able to get ahold of ANTRUM and watch it.”
Thirteen negotiated the deal with Keith Leopard from Uncork’d Entertainment on behalf of the filmmakers. Else Films produced the picture, with David Bond and Eric Thirteen serving as executive producers. ANTRUM is set for a limited theatrical release before coming to streaming and VOD services in Fall 2019.
The heart of ANTRUM is the titular cursed feature, which purports to have been shot in the late 1970s by unknown filmmakers. It spins the tale of two siblings who perform an occult ritual in the woods, seeking closure after the death of a beloved pet… but their seemingly symbolic act may have truly unleashed Hell on Earth.
“It’s a feature-length film,” Thirteen says. “It has this look and feeling that I haven’t seen since the 1970s. The hot grainy air of Ridley Scott’s Legend. The ever-present haunting of Don’t Look Now. It’s true that it’s hard to put your finger on what it is. The feeling though…you just know that something is very wrong and that maybe you shouldn’t be watching this.”
As rumor has it, this film vanished shortly after its completion along with the original creators – until a surprise screening during a film festival in Budapest in 1988. Not only did the theater reportedly burn to the ground, but several festival programmers later died under mysterious circumstances. As the story goes, the film was subsequently lost and found multiple times in its history – each with disastrous consequences.
“When you see the final product, you’ll see the full-length movie itself but also get an understanding of the lore. It’s like finding an ancient spell book. You doubt the spells are real, and then you find pages that have increasingly bizarre writing. Competing handwritten notes. Warnings in the margins. Who is the real owner of this thing, who are all these people and what happened to them? Imagine that book is a film, and you start to see why people have been so obsessed with figuring it out.”
The legend is expanded by documentary bookends on the lost film’s shadowy origins, its deadly history, and the path to its ultimate rediscovery – but outside the film, even the actual directors are shrouded in mystery. Laicini & Amito have refused to comment on strange occurrences reported by viewers, nor have they discussed the subliminal insertion of occult symbols (“sigils”) and flash-frame footage that appears unrelated to the central film.
Presented with the editorial segments and all previously mentioned additions, the full feature premiered at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival where it garnered critical praise and won the award for Best Editing. It continues to play festivals around the world, picking up accolades including the Grand Jury Award at San Francisco’s 2019 Unnamed Footage Festival.
ANTRUM’s reputation is partially due to additional real-world events that took place as the actual film was being shown. When ANTRUM screened at Fantafest Roma, the festival brought in a priest to bless the theater. Many unexpected individuals have admitted to swapping the film outside of festivals, with cult character actor Lawrence R. Harvey (HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FULL SEQUENCE) even declaring ANTRUM “one of the best horror films of 2019.”
Journalists and curious fans have further blurred the lines by adding to the lore themselves. The continued pattern of reactions and “micro-obsessions” are encouraged by the producers. This phenomenon is now on the radar of festival programmers as the film approaches its next screening at the prestigious Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF) on April 18.