Review: ‘The Wendigo’

Found Footage Creature Horror Is Creepy But Overstays Its Welcome

I’m sure you’ve heard the legend of the Wendigo. That cryptid that roams the dark corners of the Eastern United States terrorizing campers, hikers and the like. It takes many forms from the shapeshifting beast that will uncannily mimic other creatures (or sometimes humans) in order to lure unsuspecting prey deeper into its territory to the malevolent spirit that wanders the woods influencing lost travelers and invoking the desire to cannibalize others. As a hiker myself, this is the one piece of folklore that always stuck with me. Whenever the sun starts to set and I’m deep in the trails, all alone I can’t help but wonder “what is that rustling off in the distance?”. Anybody who spends any amount of time out on the trails will occasionally have their mind wander and begin to hear things that vaguely sound human in nature but aren’t quite right…or am I the only one?

The Wendigo’s story begins with Matthew (Matthias Margraves), a social media star live streaming one of his many challenges out in the woods. As the sun begins to set, strange things begin happening and Matthew is dragged off by an unseen entity into the night. Back online the debate rages about whether or not this whole thing was staged forcing a group of his fellow streamers to head to the last place he was seen and figure out exactly what happened.

Shot completely found footage style, this flick compiles the clips from a multitude of sources as they hunt for their friend. It’s a trope that’s been done to death and I generally am not a huge fan of it with a handful of exceptions. There are very few films out there that can accomplish what the likes of The Blair Witch Project or more recently Deadstream have done to marry the found footage style with a creepy story. First and foremost, you need a reason for these people to be carrying around a camera with them. Which is a hell of a lot easier nowadays with everyone having a movie studio in their pocket and aspirations of becoming an influencer. Secondly, you need a creepy story to accompany it. The Wendigo has both those bases covered but I’m not sure how well. Don’t get me wrong, with a $5,000 budget and a runtime of 68 minutes I think they did a bang-up job with what they had. I just think the drawn out exposition in the middle could have been cut making this a trim 30-minute short film. The first 10 minutes of the flick was spent setting up the entity we’re dealing with followed by 35 or so minutes of aggravating dialogue and culminating in what I thought was a solid, creepy 15-minute finale. The effects used were impressive for the budget, the creature itself had an overall terrifying vibe and the story kept me interested to the point of wanting to see where it was going but that drawn-out bit in the middle had me reaching for my phone.

I do want to give props to Jake Robinson and his team for accomplishing what they did though. I really think they have something and would love to see what they can do with a bigger budget and maybe some studio backing. The acting, albeit irritating at times, was still solid and well-played. I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on this group, curious to see what they do next. So if found footage is your thing and you want to see what this is all about, you can find this one streaming on digital.

The Wendigo
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.