Owen Gleiberman
February 20, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Wendigo

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
90 minutes
Limited Release Date
02/15/02
performer
Patricia Clarkson, John Speredakos, Erik Per Sullivan, Jake Weber
director
Larry Fessenden
distributor
Magnolia Pictures
author
Larry Fessenden
genre
Horror

We gave it a C

Quick, does any of this sound familiar? The camera tracks a car as it glides along a desolate ribbon of highway. A wintry mountain retreat, haunted by Native American spirits, houses a troubled family of three — a father (Jake Weber) who nurses secret resentments, a mother (Patricia Clarkson) who works overtime to keep the peace, and a tow-haired young son (Erik Per Sullivan, of ”Malcolm in the Middle”) with a hypersensitive, maybe even mystical ability to pick up on undercurrents of disturbance. If you think it all adds up to a bald-faced rip off of ”The Shining,” you’d be right, with a crucial difference: Wendigo trades the puffed-up metaphysics of middle-class murder for the no-budget spectacle of…an incredibly fake-looking monster deer. If this dud had been made in the ’70s, it would have been called ”The Hills Have Antlers” and played for about three weeks in drive-ins. But the writer-director, Larry Fessenden, has become something of a darling among critics, and that, unlike the movie, is kind of scary.

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