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Windigo (2024)

The Windigo (2024) – Native American Spirit Resurrected

“When an evil is too great for man to judge, the Windigo is called upon.” 

So begins The Windigo, a stark but emotionally charged tale of vengeance run amok. Directed by Gabe Torres and written by Brent Jordan, The Windigo was officially released January 9, 2024, and is available on all video on demand platforms, including Amazon Prime, VUDU, and Apple TV. Shot in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the movie’s runtime is 81 minutes. 

The film stars Marco Fuller as Ry, a teenager who – with help from his grandmother – resurrects an ancient demon called the Windigo to protect his family following a violent run-in with backwoods meth dealers. However, the creature’s lust for killing is uncontrollable and each death creates a stronger bond with Ry, forcing the family to try and break the curse before they themselves become victims. 

The Windigo is steeped in Native American lore from the outset. The intense opening sequence is set in the distant past as tribal elders summon the Windigo to punish a member of their tribe for presumably some evil he perpetrated. His frightened young daughter watches the ceremony and witnesses her father’s killing by the demon spirit. 

Flash forward to the present and that young daughter is now an elderly grandmother who suddenly awakens from the nightmare memory, falls out of bed, and calls her granddaughter Claire to say, “It’s come for me.” 

Claire responds immediately by taking her own son and daughter on a long trip to check on Grandmother. Claire is played by the talented Tonantzin Carmelo (La Brea, Into the West). Her dejected son Ry is portrayed by Marco Fuller (The Son) and her spunky daughter Bree is played by Fivel Stewart (Atypical). They are a talented trio of actors, but Fuller gets the meatiest role as a bullied teen whose insecurities lead to the summoning of the Windigo. 

The Windigo (2024) - Ry (Marco Fuller) shares a tender moment with his grandmother (Casey Camp-Horinek).
Ry (Marco Fuller) shares a tender moment with his grandmother (Casey Camp-Horinek).

‘It’s a dream’

Fuller said Ry was a “dream” role for him.

“The character arc was the highlight,” Fuller says in an exclusive interview for MalevolentDark.com. “From a bullied, disaffected youth to a vindictive killing machine, then capable young man who values family. I think playing multiple versions of the same character like Ry is exciting for any actor. Add in action sequences and fighting a Windigo — it’s a dream. Uncovering those inner demons while having to confront an actual demon is the kind of role that sticks out to you.” 

Fuller was “somewhat familiar” with the Windigo legend before shooting. 

“I’ve heard stories of the Windigo growing up,” says Fuller, who’s a tribal member of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “But I deliberately avoided extensive research. I focused on diving into Ry’s world, so when scenes like Grandma teaching Ry about it came up, it felt more organic, like experiencing it for the first time. It’s not just about the creature; it’s about grasping its cultural significance, the fear it evokes, and the darkness it symbolizes, all while embodying Ry’s journey.” 

While Fuller is excellent as the troubled Ry, Casey Camp-Horinek (Avatar: The Last Airbender) is the one giving the film its foundation playing the wise but world-weary grandmother as a tortured soul forever linked to the Windigo. The superstitious grandmother’s age is unknown, and she lives in an old house protected by dreamcatchers, leading the sheriff to assume she has dementia. But Camp-Horinek lends the grandmother’s role such gravitas, bearing a heavy weight on her spirit while belying an acuity unusual for the elderly. 

The film also stars Troy James (Nancy Drew, The Flash) as the menacing Windigo, and Brian Krause (Charmed, Sleepwalkers) as the local sheriff. This movie, though, is all about the Native American family members.

The Windigo (2024) - Fivel Stewart plays a spunky teen daughter who looks after her bullied brother.
Fivel Stewart plays a spunky teen daughter who looks after her bullied brother Ry.

‘White Man’s  Law’

The Windigo starts strong. A tender scene around the kitchen table where the family looks at old photographs is one of the best moments in the movie. When the siblings see a photo of their mother as a teenager, Bree says, “Oh my god, you were hot.” Ry then asks if Grandmother has any photographs of her as a youngster, and she replies, “I don’t even remember ever being young.” 

We find out Claire, Bree, and Ry are the last of Grandmother’s living relatives. When Ry says, “It must be cool to live forever,” Grandmother replies, “To live forever means watching everyone that you ever loved die. No one should be cursed to live so long.” 

Camp-Horinek effectively conveys a tiredness of the soul that only the very, very old can understand. Much of what I enjoyed about The Windigo is watching Camp-Horinek’s performance. 

The action really heats up when the teens find an old wooden barn that doubles as a meth lab. The three rednecks operating the illicit drug operation catch Ry snooping and are about to toss him down a well before Bree frees him. When they tell the sheriff what happened, he shows little interest in helping the family or arresting the three drug dealers. 

“White man’s law,” Grandmother says. “It’s only good for taking away the bodies after they’ve been killed.” 

The encounter with the meth heads, though, jolts Ry’s pride. He feels ashamed of his weakness and having his sister save him. Ry’s emotional pain leads Grandmother to reveal the power of the Windigo, and she teaches Ry how to perform the ceremony to bring the demon to life. She warns him, “It can take away your enemies and your fears and everything else if you’re not careful.”

The Windigo (2024) -Casey Camp-Horinek plays Grandmother and is a highlight of the film. 
Casey Camp-Horinek plays Grandmother and is a highlight of the film. 

‘Cursed to Live’

Once summoned, the Windigo stalks the drug dealers. Ry can see through the eyes of the demon and feel its intoxicating power in real time as it exacts his vengeance. Ry tells his grandmother he can control the Windigo, but she finally explains her ties to the demon in a scene that flashes back to the opening moments of the movie when the young girl watched her father killed by the creature. 

“I am cursed to live until the Windigo comes to take me,” she says to Ry. 

When she tells him to send it back before it’s too late, Ry delivers a tearful response to his grandmother in another standout scene. 

“All my life I’ve been the weak one, the scared one, the one everyone has to look out for. I’m not weak now. I’m not scared anymore.” 

“You will be,” Grandmother replies in perhaps the best-delivered line of the film. 

After the drug dealers are knocked off one by one by the Windigo, the suspicious sheriff visits the family and faces an emboldened Ry who warns the sheriff to leave them alone. That leads to a climactic battle in the final ten minutes when the uncontrollable Windigo returns to Grandmother’s house to kill the family. The ending is as emotional as it is action-packed. 

The Windigo (2024) - The family looks at old photos around the kitchen table in a tender scene before The Windigo is summoned. The film stars, from left, Marco Fuller, Fivel Stewart, Casey Camp-Horinek, and Tonantzin Carmelo.
The family looks at old photos around the kitchen table in a tender scene before The Windigo is summoned. The film stars, from left, Marco Fuller, Fivel Stewart, Casey Camp-Horinek, and Tonantzin Carmelo.

‘Symbol of Timeless Terror’

With its practical creature effects, The Windigo reminded me of a Native American version of Pumpkinhead, the 1988 cult classic directed by Stan Winston and starring Lance Henriksen. And that’s high praise. Both films explore similar themes – sins of the father and how lust for vengeance often backfires on the avenger. 

The Windigo legend and Native American stories are nothing new to the horror genre. Numerous movies like 2021’s Antlers and TV shows such as Supernatural S1:E2 have utilized the Windigo for effective scares. According to Britannica, “the first known written mention of the wendigo appears in a 1636 report by Paul Le Jeune, a French Jesuit missionary living among the Algonquin people in what is now Quebec.”

Fuller provides his take on why the Windigo endures as a popular horror trope.

“I think it reflects its deep connection to human fears: the unknown, the uncontrollable, and inner darkness,” Fuller says. “Its origins in indigenous folklore add cultural depth, exploring themes like greed and the human-nature conflict. The Windigo remains a symbol of timeless terror, providing storytellers with a rich canvas to explore.” 

Fuller and his co-stars certainly added an entertaining new splash of color to that canvas. 

Ultimately, The Windigo is a film elevated by its wonderful cast who genuinely demonstrate the loyalty of family in the face of adversity. Early in the film, when the sheriff asks if Claire is Chippewa, she proudly replies, “Ojibwe, and we take care of our own.” 

The Windigo deftly displays that same kind of independent spirit.

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2 Responses

  1. That was without a doubt the best movie review I’ve ever read. Mr Green, where have you been all my movie-watching life?

    I also enjoyed “The Windigo”. It was exciting to see a Native American cast in a Native American tale. Grandma’s line: “You will be”, still gives me chills.

    1. Thank you! It was nice to watch a well-written and well-directed indie horror film with such an awesome cast. And I agree that Grandmother saying “You will be” was about as chilling as it gets.

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