A couple and their young son are driving to their vacation home in the Catskills. They hita deer on the highway, accidentally ticking off one of the hunters, whose elevator doesn’t go allthe way to the penthouse, if you know what I mean. The boy, already on edge from the death ofthe deer and the lurking menace of the hunter, also begins to have visions of the hungry spiritWendigo. Whether the supernatural events are real or imagined is left ambiguous, as in The Turnof the S…rew. While the visualization of the Wendigo is a bit clumsy (as was that of the demonin Night of the Demon) and so hurts the ending, this is a minor flaw in a spectacularly chillingfilm with beautifully observed characterizations. The build-up is so simple, yet so effective, thatyou’ll be wondering why this film is so terrifying even as you hide behind the couch in ecstasy oftotal dread. This is vital, essential horror filmmaking.
This is a deceptively quiet film, but when the effects are there, they count. There’s anabsolutely marvellous use of left-right separation with a jump-out-of-your-seat bullet soundeffect (trust me, you’ll know it when you hear it). The music is haunting is comes throughbeautifully.
There are a few minor weaknesses in the picture, some of which are more likely due to thesmall budget of the film than to the transfer: the occasional speckle, some grain in one darkscene, and the odd murkiness. On the other hand, the image is sharp and wonderfullyatmospheric, and the ratio is 1.85:1 widescreen (unlike far too many of Artisan’s other horrortitles).
Even the featurettes are haunting. “Searching for the Wendigo” is a making of piece withoutnarration. You can pick up what is happening quite easily, but the lack of explicit explanation fitsthe mood of the finished film. Director/writer/editor Larry Fessenden is an interesting speakerwith lots of fascinating ideas, as becomes clear in both the interview and his commentary. Saidcommentary speaks equally to technical and thematic aspects of the film, and is nicely personal.Also on offer: the trailer, bios of the cast and crew, an art gallery, and brief liner notes. The(spooky) menu has a scored and animated main page and transitions.
A real treat, Wendigo deserves a wide and appreciative audience. If you loved Session 9,here is more first-class filmmaking in that vein.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Interview with Director Larry Fessenden
- “Searching for the Wendigo” Making-of Featurette
- Art Gallery
- Director and Cast Bios
- Liner Notes