Wendigo (USA; 91min.)


directed by: Larry Fessenden
starring: Patricia Clarkson; Jake Weber; Erik Per Sullivan; John Speredakos
Wendigo
 

Michael says: "Larry Fessenden's chilling tale of a family from the city encountering supernatural forces in the wilderness is also a deft character study that utilizes a lot of low- budget tricks in an excellent way.

"George and Kim, along with their young son Miles are on their way to a winter retreat in the mountains, when they are involved in an accident with a deer. A trio of hunters who had been after the deer become involved, and the tone is set for an unsettling weekend. When young Miles is told the myth of the Wendigo, a Native American spirit with an insatiable appetite, his already sparked imagination goes into high gear. Effectively chilling with strongly defined characters, WENDIGO draws you in fast and keeps you entertained until its sudden climax.

"The cast is led by the marvelous Patricia Clarkson (HIGH ART) who may get a Best Actress nod from me for this. George is well-handled by Jake Weber, and 'Malcolm in the Middle's' Erik Per Sullivan is outstanding as young Miles. I was so impressed at how quickly we knew these characters, without the usual resorting to cliche and stereotype. WENDIGO is a great example of using good storytelling rather than a padded budget to tell an effective and entertaining story." 4 cats.

 
Laura says: "Fessenden creates an unsettling, spooky mood with a whole bag of filmic tricks including lighting, montage, music and puppetry. Cinematographer Terry Stacey's (HAPPY ACCIDENTS) camera spies on the family through a window before Fessenden cuts to a rapid series of playing cards where the Jack appears to kill the Queen. Miles is frequently shown in Spielbergian silhouette. Composer Michelle Dibucci (CREEPSHOW) echoes the sinister lalala-ing of ROSEMARY'S BABY. A group of locals Kim approaches for help look like butchers and barbecuers right out of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE until her POV is removed and they devolve into mediocrity. The Wendigo itself is shown in brief flashes or as a shadow, resembling the eerie tree trunk of LITTLE OTIK." 4 1/2 cats
For Laura's complete review: "http://www.reelingreviews.com/wendigo.htm"
 
Peg says: "Ever since the Matter of Blair Township was unearthed by those cocky Orlando upstarts three summers ago, contemporary horror films have taken a nosedive into the neo-pagan-mythology-meets pseudo-indie-verité abyss. But writer/director/editor Larry Fessenden's WENDIGO, though at first glance more of the same (with DV and Super 8mm footage), is styllistically superior, though somewhat flawed in its feverish depiction of a yuppie family yearning for nature's fleeting release.

"George and Kim McClure (THE CELL'S Jake Weber and HIGH ART'S Patricia Clarkson) take their psychically sensitive son Miles (the impressive Erik Per Sullivan, a/k/a Dewey from 'Malcolm in the Middle') to the Catskills for the weekend. Their Volvo hits a deer just as they arrive in town, and they're confronted by hunters who've been tracking the buck all day. Miles gets an antlered totem figure from an elderly Indian (whom no one else can see) at the local pharmacy, and thereafter things get pretty spooky. Fressenden's juicy, moody, mise-en-scéne, full of quivering branches and racing riverbeds winks slyly at the classics (POLTERGEIST, DELIVERANCE, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, PAPERHOUSE), but he also crafts an unsettling takeon the intersection of myth and modernity.
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Reprinted from the Boston Phoenix