Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Wendigo, Night Tide

A week or two back, Stephen Volk asked me if I’d seen “the peculiar, eerie Wendigo“.

And the answer was, yes, I have. Stephen Laws had discovered it and was determined that he was going to get me to see it.

On the face of it, Larry Fessenden’s modestly-budgeted indie horror reads like a standard spam-in-a-cabin scenario. House in the woods, Deliverance-style hostile locals, something lurking Out There. All of which does it a massive disservice.

I found it cheap in the local Blockbuster’s ex-rental bin and after a viewing reckoned it to be thoughtful, grown-up and resonant. I love the kind of stuff that plays all the notes of weirdness without ever being unbelievable. I suppose the archetype of that kind of screen story would be Cat People – strange shit happens while you’re looking the other way, and you never quite catch it happening.

Wendigo has a non-Hollywood, independent-movie feel that seriously enhances its credibility. The core family are played by indie queen Patricia Clarkson, that bloke from Medium, and the kid from Malcolm in the Middle.

(This is my Sunday. Look ’em up yourselves.)

And while we’re on the subject, did you ever see Curtis Harrington’s first feature, Night Tide? I’d wanted to see it for ages and finally managed to catch up with it last year.

It has a similar setup to Cat People – it features a very young Dennis Hopper as a sailor on leave in an off-season seaside resort, who falls for a woman who plays a mermaid in a sideshow. But she always holds something of herself back, and there’s a sense of something more to her past. It could be a setup for a creature feature. But like Cat People, it’s a naturalistic movie that presses the Creature Feature buttons.

I suppose the subtle stuff like that can’t exist without the unsubtle stuff to be subtler than. If that makes any sense.

, ,