[Review] Shadow of the Rougarou [Blood in the Snow Film Festival]: A Young Woman Faces Her Childhood Terror in the Wilds of 19th Century Canada

Originally a six-part series on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) streaming service APTN Lumi,  folk horror short Shadow of the Rougarou (Canada, 2022) was presented in its 40-minute entirety at Toronto’s Blood in the Snow Film Festival. This exciting work combines creature-feature and supernatural elements with traditional Métis mythology. 

As the story set in 1885 opens, we are introduced to Métis-Cree fur trapper Sâkowêw (Morgan Holmstrom), returning to the area where she grew up. She finds an odd small doll in the woods and begins having visions. In flashbacks, she is shown as a young teen (Isabel Deroy-Olson) learning to hunt with her grandfather and also crossing paths with a deadly rougarou — a shape-shifting, werewolf-like beast. As she encounters a violent group of wolf hunters who are not shy about letting their racial prejudices known, she befriends Métis man Bruno (Cody Kearsley), who works for the hunters. Soon enough, both Sâkowêw and the wolfers will find out that the rougarou is the alpha hunter in the woods.

Director Jordan Waunch has crafted a period piece chiller that addresses social and historical issues with engaging drama and thrilling horror set pieces. The feeling is highly authentic throughout, from the performances to the costumes to the use of Indigenous languages — Shadow of the Rougarou is in English, French, Michif, and Cree, with English subtitles. Gorgeously framed and shot, with a fine balance of drama and horror along with a cool monster design, Shadow of the Rougarou is a highly recommended work.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Shadow of the Rougarou screened as part of Blood in the Snow Film Festival, which took place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from November 21–26, 2022, with a Super Channel lineup on the same dates. 

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.