Directed by Ted Geoghegan.
Starring Kaniehtiio Horn, Ezra Buzzington, Eamon Farren, Ezra Buzzington.
Late in the War of 1812, a young Mohawk woman and her two lovers battle a squad of American soldiers hell-bent on revenge.
After his crowd-pleasing haunted house horror, We Are Still Here, writer-director Ted Geoghegan decided to follow his debut film with a gory, wild, and angry tale of supernatural revenge with a WWE wrestler. Mohawk dares you to categorize it in conventional labels. Equal parts bloody and fun revenge thriller, and an angry history lesson about the genocide of Native Americans, Geoghegan pulls no punches, pushing his shoestring budget to its limit to deliver this provoking and thrilling film.
In the year 1814, with the War of 1812 as a background, we follow the Mohawk Nation’s effort to protect their native homelands while the Americans and British fight in a war they don’t want to get involved with. Kaniehtiio Horn, a First Nations Mohawk, served as both cultural consultant for the film, and its lead actress. Horn quickly establishes a strong presence as Oak, a woman trying to get her people involved in the fight, despite her mother’s and other elders’ wishes to remain neutral. When her lover, the Mohawk warrior Calvin Two Rivers (Justin Rain) accidentally brings the war to them after ambushing a group of American soldiers, war will come to the Mohawk people, forcing Oak to be on the run with Calvin and their other lover, the British Joshua Pinsmail (Eamon Farren). The film’s central relationship is what makes Mohawk stand out. This is a family unlike any we’ve seen onscreen before, and its polyamorous nature is just portrayed with loving respect, Geoghegan and his co-writer Grady Hendrix easily manage to make the audience fall for the trio and wish they make it to the end.
Mohawk definitely suffers from its low budget. The first half of the film focuses a little too much on Oak, Joshua and Calvin wandering the forest, running from the blood-thirsty group of Americans, led by the deliciously evil Hezekiah Holt (Ezra Buzzington). While the villains are comically evil, they still manage to steal the scenes they are in, the kind of villain made for movie theater audiences to hate. Because of the low budget, Mohawk was filmed in seemingly one location, and it shows. You can’t really distinguish one part of the upstate New York woods they filmed the movie in from the other, so it doesn’t take long before our protagonists run past the same tree.
Thankfully, this is not a deal-breaker, as Mohawk’s exploration of 19th century politics, and his keen eye for action makes you look past the negative points of the film. The action is top notch, with the brutality and gore of war standing out by having characters survive a lot of stabbings and shots – unlike most Hollywood movies. A man is shot three times, stabbed across his body, yet he doesn’t immediately die. Geoghegan also uses the time’s technology to his advantage by showing how unreliable the weapons from the time really were. Everyone’s pistols and rifles jam at the worst time, and they take long enough to reload that someone can easily get close and stab them to death. And by the time the third act comes, the carnage gets up to 11, as Mohawk becomes a supernatural revenge film that never stops feeling real.
Mohawk is hurt by its budget and production values, but the film does the best with what it has to deliver a thrilling and brutal thriller with something to say about politics and the treatment of Native Americans.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Mohawk is now available on Netflix US, UK, and Australia.