imagineNATIVE 2015: Wind Walkers
Using a native legend as a backdrop, Wind Walkers takes a soldier suffering from PTSD and sets him on a course that will impact his circle of friends and his hometown forever.
Sean Kotz (Zane Holtz) is a soldier who has been reassigned to a desk job. He is mum on what happened to bring him back home, and his distant, distracted nature is starting to put off his friends. His best friend and fellow soldier Matty (Rudy Youngblood) is back home too but has disappeared without a trace. His disappearance worries his mother, Sue (Tsulan Cooper), who is convinced that Wind Walkers, creatures who protect Native lands from invaders and settlers, have placed a curse on them. She cites the approaching storm as further proof of her superstitious claims. Despite the mystery surrounding Matty’s disappearance, Kotz and his pals continue with their plans for their annual hunting trip deep in the Florida Everglades.
Things take a strange turn when the group of men find themselves hunted by a cunning and unknown entity. As they become frightened of their environment, and mistrustful of each other, things start to become all too familiar to Sean. This forces him to reveal a terrible secret about his tour of duty with Matty and the horror that came home with them.
What Wind Walkers tries to convey is the alienation of a soldier after he comes back to a regular life. Throw in the issue of mental illness, masked as a powerful entity that lays waste to his loved ones, and you get the makings of a decent premise. Unfortunately it is one that doesn’t have a chance to be fully realized.
Writer-director Russell Friedenberg incorporates a kitchen sink approach by using several types of exposition that does little to reveal the plot in a timely manner. It’s choppy and we wait and wait for clarification. This applies to every aspect of the film, right down to revealing character’s names. Merging the Wind Walkers mythology with the notion of a rampant infection in the area also seemed to spread the film’s themes thinly. All of which left me wondering if it would have been better had only one aspect of the story had been explored in more depth.
What Friedenberg does do right is keep a consistent, suspenseful tone as the friends slowly unravel. That alone made up for some of the more uneven performances. The backwoods southern rock score was also well done, and the woods and surrounding wilderness were a nice backdrop to the Predator-like action.
Trying to make sense of life after war can be devastating, and Wind Walkers takes a crack at it with a supernatural horror angle. Though it does not always succeed in its goal, the cool creature effects and tense emotions are worth checking out.
Saturday, October 17, 10:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tickets information can be found at the imagineNATIVE website.