Directed: Russell Freidenberg
Cast: Zane Holtz, Glen Powell, Castille Landon, Phil Burke, Rudy Youngblood, Johnny Seqouyah.
Reviewed By: Stu Greenfield.
Released: October 2015.
Supernatural horror films have been a mainstay of the horror genre for many years, with films based around mythology and unearthly happenings. Films such as The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist are classic examples of this. Film4 Frightfest saw a new member of this supernatural family enter the world of cinema with Wind Walkers, an intriguing film that utilises imagination and what we do not see rather than what we see, however there are downsides which make this a weak addition to the festival.
Wind Walkers follows a group of friends as they travel to the Florida Everglades. Here they intend to hunt and kick back. Whilst here they learn of a mystical legend, a legend of a Wind Walker that rides the wind and possesses unwitting humans. When the youngest friend goes missing the group have to question whether the noises they are hearing and the things they are seeing are all in their heads, is there a logical explanation or is the Wind Walker real? Time will tell, if they survive.
Wind Walkers starts slowly. The beginning, which focuses on the time before they go on the hunt, appears to have little point to it. Whilst it is there to establish the narrative this never really happens but what it does do is set us up for the rest of the film which feels weak and washed out. The film is a bit of a mess in terms of timeline and whilst a linear timeline is not always the best option, the mash-up of moving backwards and forwards in time in Wind Walkers does nothing other than confuse the audience as to where they are or what is going on. The fallout from this is that it is very hard to follow and invest in the film.
It is not just the pacing and flipping from one place in time to another that let this film down. The narrative is under developed, which is a shame as there is definite potential in what the film is trying to explore. The mythology itself could have been dealt with in a much more intense and detailed manner. There is actually little about the mythical creature that we learn during the film. There are underlying plots too, such as the subject of mental ill health in terms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and psychosis which can be seen in one of the main characters who appears to suffer from hallucinations and flashbacks from when he served in the military. All of this could have been explored in much more depth to give the film a much grittier and thought provoking feel. As well as enhancing the psychological horror factor, this would have offered more opportunity for the creature to provide some actual horror scenes. Wind Walkers is marketed as a horror film, however there is little horror in it.
One of the strong points of the film is the cinematography. The landscape and shots used are beautiful. It is just a shame that they were not used to create some scenes that were interesting. The whole middle portion of the film is quite simply boring. There are scenes that are completely pointless and without purpose. The soundtrack is interesting and there is an almost constant sound of wind in the background of the scenes. Whilst at times this is distracting, it is also haunting at points. Unfortunately the film tries to build suspense by what you do not see rather than utilise the landscape and setting that is present, which is not done effectively in this instance and adds to the watered down feel of the film. Although it does inspire audiences to use their imagination it does not inspire them to like the film.
The casting in the film is quite strong with Zane Holtz from the TV series From Dusk till Dawn and the indie flick Perks of Being a Wallflower playing one of the lead roles along with Glen Powell from Expendables 3 and Scream Queens. Sadly for the actors the script is both clichéd and repetitive, and although the performances are not terrible there is only so much you can flog a dead horse.
Wind Walkers had potential as a concept, and the use of the Native American Myth of Wendigo coupled with the mental ill health and all of the issues that come from having fought in a war had strong potential to be an interesting psychological horror. However what we are offered is a weak narrative with watered down and purposeless scenes that are thrown together in a higgledy piggedly manner that just promotes confusion. Save your time and watch the 2001 film Wendigo instead.