Dir: Larry Fessenden. 2001. Starring: Jake Weber, Patricia Clarkson, Erik per Sullivan. English. Horror/Thriller

Legend has it that if you witness the Wendigo today, sometime tomorrow someone will die. This, according to many beliefs held by several Native American tribes, is not necessarily the basis for this Larry Fessenden (Habit, Last Winter, No Telling) picture. But it sure provides a creepy overtone for the haunting tale.

George (Jake Weber), Kim (Patricia Clarkson) and Miles (Erik Per Sullivan) are headed to upstate New York from Manhattan so that George can escape the high strung atmosphere of his job as a professional photographer for an advertising agency. Things turn bleak when George accidentally runs into a deer which prompts a very uncomfortable encounter with three locals. The attention of the audience shifts to Miles. While his character is rather brooding and subtle, Miles is shrouded in innocence. George and Kim are very protective of their young son and this becomes evident as the prolonged contention between the family and the locals becomes more volatile, particularly with the character of Otis (John Speredakos).

Things become more and more tense when the family learns that the property that they will be inhabiting for the weekend is adjacent to that of Otis’. George and Kim notice bullet holes in the windows and the wall inside their vacation retreat which sets a very strange tone for the rest of the film.

During a trip into the nearby town for food and other supplies, Miles happens upon an elderly Native American man who passes a wooden statue along to the boy. The man declares to Miles that the statue represents a shape-shifter:  part man, part animal and all evil. From this point on, young Miles is haunted by the tale thus creating visions of a gaunt deer-like figure who possesses a very menacing presence to the child.

While off sledding together, things take a turn for the worst for George and Miles as George is injured leaving Miles astray. After an encounter with the Wendigo, Miles is knocked unconscious only to be awoken hours later by a frantic Kim. George has gone missing and, in an attempt to locate her husband, Kim stumbles onto the land of one of the locals where we witness the family disemboweling the corpse of a deer. With Miles’ hand in hers, Kim gets out of there as quickly as possible as she assumes the worst when she finds that there is a rifle shooting range on the property.

Wendigo is a low budget film with a simple concept that is very effective in achieving its motive. The performances are strong as is the direction and the special effects that are intertwined throughout. Certainly, Wendigo, is not a run of the mill horror film, which is a good thing, but it will appeal to all those who are a fan of the genre.

Posted by:
Travis King
Oct 20, 2008 4:07pm
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