Sunday, 18 October 2015

No.252 : Wendigo

Wendigo at the IMDb

A strange horror/monster/ghost story mash up now in this 2001 chiller. Patricia Clarkson stars along with the youngest out of ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ as well as an English actor I didn’t recognise but he was in the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake.

The film opens with the three family members heading for a weekend in the mountains. Gawd knows why as it’s freezing and the area is populated by hillbillies but maybe the Paisley Glynhill was fully booked. They don’t get far in their Volvo before a stag appears in the road and comes worst off in the collision. The deer was being stalked by some hunters and they aren’t happy that the antlers were damaged in the collision. The Dad manages to talk them off but we see that arch hillbilly,Otis, remains unimpressed.

At the lodge they find a window broken and a bullet embedded in the wall. Rather than run for the hills they settle down for the night where the Boy is troubled by visions of a hillbilly home invasion. The couple also get it on on the sofa unaware that they are being watched by Otis. So far so predictable but the titular Wendigo has yet to show up.

The next day in town they are buying curry ingredients so that Dad can continue with his racist impressions. The boy is confronted in the thrift store by a supposedly enigmatic Native American who gives him a small statue of a Wendigo and spouts off some mystical gubbins. When he shows it to his Mum the man is gone and the assistant makes them pay $4 for the model - the oldest scam in the book! As they set off the mysterious Indian appears again - no doubt off to spend his share of the four bucks.

Next day the father and son go sledging and Dad falls from the sled mid run. The boy heads back to him but is scared off by some snow flurries and what looks like a monster made out of twigs. After passing out he’s revived by Mum who is worried for the husband whom they eventually find in their driveway having crawled home. It turns out he’s been shot - possibly accidentally by stumbling into a rifle range but more likely deliberately by Otis who thinks their house is rightfully his.

The family make a desperate dash to the hospital while the police seek Otis - will the Wendigo show up again to save the day?

I quite enjoyed this film despite it’s thin plot and far fetched premise. There’s not a lot going on apart from the standard strangers vs. locals squabble with a tree/deer monster thrown in to add a bit of value.

From the off the boy character is a bit strange and I think they are trying for a bit a ‘The Shining’ vibe from him. He’s meant to be a bit complex and introverted, and perhaps more in tune with nature than most but he just comes across as a bit dull and slow. Clarkson does better as the Mum although a lot of her scenes involve her running about a bit upset.

The hillbillies were more fun but a bit stereotypical as was the Sheriff who failed to convince - he deserves a hammering for that performance!

The Wendigo itself was ill-defined despite the wise old Indian in the thrift shop banging on about its powers. It was funny to see its P.O.V. shot when chasing the boy as it consisted of only a few twigs stuck around the camera lens. Towards the end it turned into a two legged ferocious deer which was confirmed by the Indian saying it could shape shift - my guess was that the costume shop was late in its delivery.

There wasn’t a lot or horror or scares here but it was a decent effort with some nice snow covered locations and a scenario that stayed just the right side of outrageously silly.

Best Bit : Twig man’s gonna get you!
‘W’ Rating 17/23

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