The found footage genre is a really tricky genre to get right. There was a time when found footage was all the rage and audiences had a whole slew of new, both bad and good, films to choose from. Recently, the genre has quieted down and thus less found footage find their way to audiences as each year passes. However, for Director Jake Robinson, found footage was his first choice for The Wendigo, a film inspired by his own real-life experiences.
Released to VOD on August 4th through Terror Films, The Wendigo begins with Logan (Tyler Gene). Though it is unclear as to what form of online celebrity he is exactly, it doesn’t matter because all the audience needs to know is that he has a large following. Indeed, what Logan is doing as The Wendigo opens is streaming live to his many fans and followers from a tent in some dark and spooky woods. Soon, events take a turn for the worse though as Logan appears to be dragged screaming into the depths of the woods. The reactions from his followers vary from fear for Logan to dismissal that the whole thing is a prank.
Regardless, the video of Logan goes viral and soon attracts the attention of his fellow online influencers who decide that they will also go into the woods and film. Some of them seem to be genuinely concerned for Logan, but for the most part this appears to be an exercise in jumping on the bandwagon, one influencer even bemoans the fact that she didn’t think of doing a similar video to Logan first as he has been trending for several days. At this point, both the influencers and the audience do not know for certain either way as to whether Logan has really disappeared or if this is one of his infamous pranks. The Wendigo does set up an intriguing premise and invites the audience to guess what they think has happened.
Of course, as The Wendigo progresses, you find out what is going on, however it is difficult to be as fully invested as we perhaps should be because the characters are not particularly likeable. It is clear that Robinson is making a statement on the toxicity of influencer culture, and he does this very deftly, however the downside of this is spending time with characters who are displaying this toxicity.
Visually, The Wendigo is pretty much what you would expect from a found footage film. Some shots are clearer and more stable than others, but the film does feel very raw and realistic throughout. The practical effects are very good, and it is admirable how dedicated Robinson is to the legend of the wendigo itself. Whilst The Wendigo does not necessarily set itself apart from many other films of similar ilk, especially in its genre, it does have some interesting things to say about both the wendigo legend and about online influencer culture. That is why Cryptic Rock gives The Wendigo 3 out of 5 stars.