[Review] The Windigo: Terror Take on Algonquian Folklore Creature Feels Familiar

The mythological creature or evil spirit known as the Wendigo (the spelling and pronunciation of the name differs) — the entity originates from Algonquian folklore — has been the subject of many horror movies, some that focus on social issues, and others that simply go for savage kills. Director Gabe Torres’ The Windigo (U.S., 2024) tackles the lust for power and the importance of family and tradition in its creature feature presentation.

Claire (Tonantzin Carmelo) brings her teen children Bree (Fivel Stewart) and Ry (Marco Fuller) to the home of Grandmother (Casey Camp-Horinek), who has had visions of the titular entity killing one of her ancestors. When the teens accidentally stumble on a meth lab, the trio of villains who cook meth there attack Ry and make the two siblings their targets. Ry and Grandmother summon up the Windigo, with the boy’s sudden sense of power and craving of revenge overwhelming him.

The Windigo, with a screenplay by Brent Jordan, attempts to represent Native American culture and traditions. Some of this comes off very well, but at other times the film falls back on cliches. This leaning on tropes is also evident in its serving up scenes with which seasoned fright-fare fans will already be familiar. The family drama comes off slightly better.

Where I feel The Windigo will be most divisive is with the character of Ry and Fuller’s performance. Though he goes all-in with his commitment to the role, he is given some material that would be tough for many actors to do well with, including some scenes in which Ry is acting out in his bedroom the Windigo’s vicious attacks. Stewart comes across much more believable as Ry’s assertive sister.

The creature effects are impressive, with contortionist Troy James giving a solid performance in a cool-looking suit designed by Steve Newburn. Again, monster movie fanatics will know where The Windigo is ultimately headed, but the creature attack scenes and gore effects make the cinematic journey to get there worth a watch.

The Windigo  is now available on most platforms (Apple TV/Amazon Prime/Google Play/YouTubeTV/VUDU).

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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.