When a bunch of friends set out to the Florida marshland to drink, talk about old times and hunt wild boar they have no idea of the terror that awaits them in the eerie and ethereal swamps that surround their cabin.
Amongst the collection of testosterone infused menfolk is Sean (Zane Holtz) a returning solider who has just come back from the Middle East after being discharged as unfit for service with PTSD a condition that has and is still deeply affecting him.
Reclusive and quiet his buddies can see the change in him especially Neelis Kingston (Insidious actor J. LaRose) who has two sons one of which is along for the hunt and the other of which not only served with Sean but has now worryingly gone AWOL.
It’s not just Sean that is acting abnormally however and when a bloodied and brutalized hogs head is left in the guy’s cabin they begin to believe that the tables have been turned and someone or something is out in the wild hunting them.
Is it pure paranoia, one of their own or something much more ancient and malevolent? Unfortunately for them the answer is coming and it is a whole lot stranger and scarier than they could ever imagine.
Brilliantly shot and scripted writer and director Russell Friedenberg who also stars in the film crafts Wind Walkers into a hybrid horror that expertly combines not only several genres but manages to explore a myriad of issues and ideas from masculinity to the colonialization of other countries to ancient stories and legends to the very real horrors of modern warfare.
Using an ancient Native American myth of the Wind Walker, a creature that is outside of humanity and comes to punish it for its crimes against nature, the movie cleverly plays with the audience keeping them constantly questioning not only what or who is after the group but also doubting the central character Sean as a reliable guide with which to view the frighteningly unfolding events.
This makes the movie all the more interesting and enjoyable as the viewer, like the characters they are watching, is on unstable ground giving an air of suspense that anything could happen at any time.
Cleverly flashing back after the opening to give us a more rounded view of the men folk who dominate the story and their families and relationships we also get to see glimpses of Sean’s horrific experiences while in action abroad which hint at a whole other explanation for the events the close knit friends are experiencing in the swamps.
Featuring some emotionally powerful yet understated performances especially from Zane Holtz the actors manage skillfully to elevate their characters way beyond a simple assembly of meat head macho idiots who you would be happy to see bumped off making the deaths of each individual much more impacting and meaningful.
The location is as much a character as the cast and is lovingly filmed by Friedenberg’s camera which gives it an otherworldly look extremely suitable to the subject matter and story as if the land itself could come alive at any moment and turn on the hunters in the same way as the monster that is after them has.
Slowly and subtly shifting throughout Wind Walkers has an air of impending dread that builds up constantly like a pressure cooker heating the characters and situation up till they explode in emotion and action in its shocking final act.
An intelligent, compelling and unsettling piece Russell Friedenberg has made a marvellous movie in Wind Walkers that deserves to be viewed by all audiences not just those into horror.
WIND WALKERS is now available on DVD and download in the UK.