Title: Mohawk

Also known as:

Year: 2017

Genre: Thriller / Drama / Action

Language: English / Mohawk / French

Runtime: 91 min

Director: Ted Geoghegan

Writer: Ted Geoghegan & Grady Hendrix

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5189828/

Towards the end of the War of 1812, surviving members of a Mohawk tribe is forced to take part of a war that they had no intention to be part of. Two Mohawks and a British man, involved in an intimate relationship, step up to fight the attacking American soldiers that are invading their territory.

Our thoughts:
I'm breaking my several months long review silence to talk about one of my most anticipated titles in the last year. It's the new film from writer/director Ted Geoghegan, who you might remember from the brilliant supernatural horror movie "We Are Still Here" a couple of years ago. He returns with a script co-written by Grady Hendrix, to tell a story taking place during the war between the Americans and the British in the early 1800s, from the perspective of a small Mohawk tribe.

The movie centers around the Mohawks, Oak and Calvin, and a British companion, Joshua. When the Mohawk tribe refuses to take part of the war between the Americans and the British, they are soon forced to do so anyway after Calvin has a violent run-in with American soldiers. The survivors of Calvin's attack go after him with a vengeance, and end up taking down the majority of the Mohawk tribe in process. Oak, Calvin and Joshua manage to get away, and so begins a long day of shifts between being hunted and hunters.

Though "Mohawk" is a very low-budget movie for what it tries to do, director Ted Geoghegan is running a tight ship here. It's not easy to create a period piece, while also balancing political ideas, incredibly out-there moments and raw violence, all in one film. This is made possible thanks to a talented crew, some which return from "We Are Still Here"; cinematographer Karim Hussain, FX maestro Marcus Koch, and composer Wojciech Golczewski, are some of the familiar names. Unfortunately there are some weaker points, such as some characters not completely appearing to be of the time period, due to speech, manners or how some of the costumes look, but I had no problem seeing beyond that once the movie got started.

From the second this crazy ride starts, you're constantly pushed between perspectives in a highly unusual way. We're actually finding the three lead characters, Oak in particular, to be the most mysterious ones in the movie. More intimate time is spent with the "bad guys", the American soldiers, than with the main trio. That's not to say that we're asked to sympathize with the evils of the world, because there is never a clear cut line here. Yes, the soldiers are definitely bad, but they're also pushed into a corner. Many of their men have a conscience, but the better people they are, the sooner they'll die. To be sure that the audience never feels safe, of course.

One of these more mysterious, or subtle, details of the main trio is what the relationship between them are. The three of them are in an intimate relationship, as lovers, but it's never the focus. This stays well in line with the message of hate, racism and intolerance that lays beneath the violence in "Mohawk", and thankfully it ends up becoming a more thought-provoking piece because of it. The most heavy-handed message here is obviously racism, which goes hand-in-hand with native's position in American history. Yet, a major strength is that the movie can still be enjoyed as a "simple" survival thriller too, due to how exciting the moment-to-moment stuff is. The screenplay by Ted Geoghegan and Grady Hendrix lends itself to being viewed as how deep, or shallow, as the viewer needs it to be. Rest assured, that's not a diminishing quality at all.

You can expect some brutal moments in here, but the movie does focus on drama and characters over action-packed goodness. This definitely helps making those blood-gushing scenes all the more gruesome though. The most effective violence is usually when it's in small doses anyway, in my opinion. "Mohawk" still manages to pull out tricks and unexpected moments, especially during Oak's spirituality-dosed revenge, and scenes of pure unease. One thing that I couldn't help but appreciate, is the way the forest has a strong presence that goes way beyond just being a location. The forest is nearly alive, with the trees being portrayed as these swaying colossi that have been there far longer than any human ever will. Details like these shows the lengths that Ted Geoghegan goes to unnerve you.

The only flaw to be found in "Mohawk" is tied to its budget, where some things are not always convincing you of the time period. The movie still manages to be devastating and thought-provoking, yet mindful of mankind's reasons for violence. Sure, it's a story of good people surviving an invasion by bad people, but it's not quite that clear-cut. The movie channels "Deliverance" in the way of "Ravenous"; gut-punching survival that borders on exploitation cinema, mixed with genre-hybrid wildcard ideas. This was undoubtedly a movie worth waiting for.

Positive things:
- Always challenging clichés.
- Effective use of violence.
- The more spiritual side of the movie: from Oak's dreams, to the use of the forest.
- All the characters remain interesting and evolving.
- Wonderfully odd synth score.
Negative things:
- The budget is showing in some of aspects, due to it being a period piece.

Gore: 3/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 3.5/5
Effects: 3.5/5
Comedy: 1/5

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