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-vérité abyss. But writer/director/editor Larry Fessenden’s Wendigo, though at first glance more of the same (with DV and Super 8mm footage), is stylistically 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 Patrica 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. Fessenden’s juicy, moody mise-en-scène, 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 take on the intersection of myth and modernity.