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Mohawk (Fantasia 2017 Review)

Mohawk (Fantasia 2017 Review)
07.21.2017by: Chris Bumbray
7 10

PLOT: During the war of 1812, a young Mohawk woman (Kaniehtiio Horn) and her two lovers, a fellow Mohawk, Calvin (Justin Rain) and English Indian agent, Joshua (Eamon Farren) battle a squad of bloodthirsty American soldiers.

REVIEW: Ted Geoghegan is a guy well known among us internet journos. A publicist long associated with the Fantasia Film Festival, he’s also a budding filmmaker, with his first feature, WE ARE STILL HERE, being notably well received and scoring solid distribution – not something easily achieved in the genre indie scene these days. MOHAWK is his sophomore effort, and a change of pace from his relatively straightforward horror first feature.

Described as a home invasion flick with North America the home, and Americans the invaders, MOHAWK is a revisionist period actioner, told with a modern perspective. It’s a strong leap forward for Geoghegan, who’s shot a sharp looking, technically accomplished feature with a pretty low-budget. Often, these types of movies look fine on your TV/devices, but don’t hold up on the big screen. MOHAWK is the exception. It looks great – with strong cinematography by Karim Hussein, who also shot HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, episodes of “Hannibal”, THE ABC’S OF DEATH and ANTIVIRAL, and also has a memorable synth-score by indie horror go-to guy Wojciech Golczewski.

The overall pace of the film is good, with it running a taut ninety minutes, although I’ll admit to having found the first two thirds, which are more reality based, more interesting than the gore-heavy grand guignol finale. It takes a somewhat predictable detour into horror territory, which is probably a commercial necessity, but also snaps the tension somewhat as I was so invested in the heroes.

The three leads really do exceptional work, with Kaniehtiio Horn, who’s actually Mohawk, making a strong protagonist, as a First Nations woman fully liberated and ready to fight for what’s hers. Justin Rain, as her first nations lover is similarly good, as is Eamon Farren, in a much more heroic role than he’s currently playing on David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks: The Return.”

However, I did have a bit of a problem with the baddies – a ragtag gang of American militia men. With the exception of Noah Segan’s Yancy, none are terribly three dimensional, and a greater sense of conflict between them might have been more interesting. They look more like extras from FURY ROAD than 1812 era soldiers, but again – this keeps it more or a genre flick than an out-and-out drama. There’s certainly an arty version of this movie that could have been made, but this doesn’t aim to be that - and for what it is, Geoghegan and company did a really good job as it’s superior to most festival genre selections I’ve sat through this year (I think it would have been a solid pick for Sundance – whose midnight selection has been noticeably weak lately).

While it remains to be seen what kind of distribution MOHAWK will get, if you come across it I highly recommend it as an example of micro-budget action-horror done with a lot of heart and talent. It’s well worth taking a chance on.

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