Wendigo. 2001. USA. Written and directed by Larry Fessenden. With Patricia Clarkson, Jake Weber, Erik Per Sullivan. 91 min.
In Fessenden’s truly terrifying Wendigo, a comfortable and complacent white family spending a wintry weekend upstate accidentally encounter, or imagine they encounter, a shape-shifting chimera, half-deer, half-man, that brings out their own suppressed rage—seen through the eyes of an awfully frightened child. Once again ahead of his time, Larry Fessenden makes a deeply unsettling yet culturally sensitive horror film that draws on a Native American mythical creature, the Wendigo, to make subtly profound observations about our nation’s Original Sin: the rape of a land and its Indigeous peoples. “Fessenden has set himself a challenging project: to approach the themes and thrills of the classic American horror movies through a determinedly modern approach, as if John Cassavetes had been working for Universal in the early ’30s…. [F]or those in search of something different, Wendigo is a genuinely bone-chilling tale” (Dave Kehr, The New York Times). Courtesy IFC Films