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If you've ever wondered how a John Cassavettes horror film might turn out, Wendigo is a good start. Written and directed (and edited) by indie actor/filmmaker Larry Fessenden (Habit), this story of a city family running into danger while vacationing in a snowy small town never really commits to the creeps as much as it does a chill wintry atmosphere and improv-ish character building. Jake Weber and Patricia Clarkson star as mom and dad to tense son Miles (Erik Per Sullivan), whose nervous personality is run ragged by a menacing local troublemaker and tales of an animal demon haunting the wilds. Although the story and themes in Wendigo are thin and undeveloped, Fessenden mines some good, raw performances from his cast, not unlike those seen in John Cassavettes' crude and personal films. Fessenden, a gifted visualist, also adds some effective touches of horror style, but the film, at only 90 minutes, still feels too long, as if its ideal incarnation were as an hour-long episode of a horror anthology show. Artisan's disc features Wendigo in a nice anamorphic transfer (1.85:10 with both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio tracks. Fessenden features in both a commentary track and an eight-minute interview. Also includes the half-hour featurette "Searching for the Wendigo," an art gallery, and trailer. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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