American horror begins in the woods, and sooner or later it almost always returns there.
When European colonists first landed on the shores of the land they called the New World, the forests were there waiting, filled with unknown people, animals, and legends that shaped the colonial imagination and, eventually, the fears of what became a new nation. Contemporary horror has never quite given up this fear of the woods; in a post-industrial society that claims to be driven by science and rationalism, wilderness areas—or even just the forested parts of our neighborhoods and communities—remain mysterious and deceptive, forever threatening our modern devotion to progress and stability on which modern history depends.
Jake Robinson’s new film The Wendigo is the latest found footage exploration of the anxiety we still associate with wild, untamed spaces, and we have an exclusive clip from Terror Films that shows off what Robinson is bringing to this rich tradition. The 30 seconds of footage here seem to line up with what we typically see in “lost in the woods” movies—shaky shots of dark trees, characters nervously shouting out to one another in the shadows—but if you have your volume turned up you’ll hear the element that Robinson says is the source of his fascination with wendigo stories:
This film is based on a real-life experience of mine when I was a kid playing in the woods. I remember hearing my own voice call out to me in the woods. ‘Till this day I never knew what it was until I was older and discovered the Wendigo legend.
As the characters in this clip frantically search for Logan (the social media personality whose quest to find a wendigo in rural North Carolina drives the story), you can hear the forest echo their calls back to them. The wendigo itself is a creature whose Native American mythos is linked to times of starvation when desperate people resorted to cannibalism, so it is a monster that represents both an external danger and the threat of internal weakness that undermines a functioning community. This duality—the sense that the unknown is both something else and us at the same time—is captured in the creepy audio of this clip. Intrigued horror fans can check it out to begin to experience what Robinson calls “the unknown of what’s calling to them in the darkness.”
The Wendigo will be released by Terror Films on digital platforms August 4.