The Wendigo (2022)—Think Twice Before Camping in the Woods
What if you journeyed into the woods to make a stream on a dare, when suddenly, the unexpected happened? Now I’m not talking about the dangers of running into a bear or even fugitives of the law or murderous clowns. No, I’m talking about running into an ancient cryptid such as The Wendigo. Perhaps next time you go on that camping trip alone, it might be a good idea to come better prepared.
Logan (played by Tyler Gene) is an online influencer and streamer who goes out in the woods to film anything creepy. After a painstaking time setting up his tent and yelling at the birds to quiet down, he manages to get his stream going claiming that he’s out trying to find a wendigo. As the stream goes on, Logan hears branches cracking and leaves rustling while many of his followers begin getting a bad feeling. Thus culminates in Logan being dragged out of his tent by an ominous creature all while screaming. Weeks later, his stream goes viral and a group of fellow influencers take to the woods to find him. But as the night goes on, the game of cat and mouse begins.
While found-footage style horror films being shot in the woods is nothing new or unique, The Wendigo has a chilling atmosphere through and through. The woods allows the film to use its surroundings to make the most of a regular setting. For example, branches breaking and leaves rustling help set the tone for an uncomfortable atmosphere. The addition of growls, be it low and guttural groans to ear-piercing roars, only added to the discomfort. But besides the setting of the woods, what I enjoyed was the depiction of Logan’s stream. It genuinely feels like someone is just steaming themselves on YouTube or Instagram, as seen with the live feed chat and heart reacts. I also appreciate the small nod to Dillon Brown’s The Flock, with many people in the steam telling Logan to “Join The Flock.”
Speaking of Logan, I can’t help but think that director Jake Robinson loosely based him off of YouTuber Logan Paul. From the character’s name, to his streaming hobby and even his general attitude and hair, the character just screams Logan Paul. The only major difference is that this Logan has brown hair and doesn’t pose in front of a dead body like the Paul brother did. Unfortunately, I felt that Logan was the only influencer who had a bombastic personality. While no one in this film is really likable by any standards, none of the rest of the cast feel distinct from one another, which only makes them feel like disposable characters.
But the movie really isn’t about the influencers, it’s about the Wendigo. And I have to say, the Wendigo has a very unique design. Unlike many other interpretations that came before, the Wendigo in 2022’s The Wendigo appears to marry both aspects of fauna and flora. For example, the typical antlers that a Wendigo possesses are made to resemble jagged branches sprouting from its head. Meanwhile, the rest of the body appears to be covered in both fur and leaves. Compared to most designs of the Wendigo, this has to be one of the most unique.
Normally, Wendigos are malevolent spirits associated with the Algonquin-speaking peoples including the Ojibwe and Cree and are normally seen in wintertime. Although the Wendigo in the film is still a cannibalistic evil spirit, it is seen in autumn. Meanwhile, the film has the Wendigo turn others into pale, cannibalistic imitations, almost resembling a vampire with blackened eyes and bloody mouths. From what I know, humans can be turned into Wendigos should they be in contact with one for prolonged periods of time, but I’m surprised that the Wendigo didn’t eat any of the influencers. Perhaps it was lonely?
Overall, despite the largely forgettable cast, Jake Robinson’s The Wendigo is one of the scariest films I’ve seen in the Cryptid Cinematic Universe. Although it has a relatively simple premise, this works to its advantage. With a beautifully raw and original design of the classic Wendigo in conjunction with classic found-footage horror elements, 2022’s The Wendigo is a truly frightening film that would make me think twice before going camping either alone or with friends.