The indie survival film Mohawk is an violent cat and mouse game of revenge, colonialism, and the casualties of war. The film follows a young Mohawk warrior and her two lovers on the run from a group of American soldiers hot on their trail. Taking place over a bloody 24-hour period during the War of 1812, Mohawk draws inspiration from one of North America’s darkest and most brutal times.
Mohawk is directed by Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here), who also shares a writing credit with novelist Grady Hendrix. Hendrix Best known for his ikea-catalogue inspired novel Horrorstör which is currently in development as a FOX TV series. I’ve always enjoyed Hendrix’s writing for his light-hearted, humorous story-telling- A quality I was very wrong to have expected to see in Mohawk….
The war of 1812 was a savage fight between the Americans, Great Britain and it’s foreign colony Canada. The Native Americans were tragically caught in the middle of this conflict and forced to take up arms as the battle lines inched closer an closer to their camps. In the opening scenes of Mohawk we see the Native Americans grappling with the decision to join forces and defend their land, seeing no benefit in fighting in someone else’s war. Our protagonists Oak (Kaniehtiio Horn), Calvin Two Rivers (Justin Rain), and their British ally (and lover) Joshua Pinsmail (Eamon Farren) try explaining to the elders that war is eminent and if they are to survive, they must fight.
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Unfortunately for everyone involved, Calvin takes it upon himself to put a fire under both sides after burning down a nearby American fort. Forcing their hand, the tribe packs up in the night to flee for safety from a fight they will surely lose. Oak, Calvin, and Joshua, holding to their original plan leave for a neighboring encampment to warn the others and, hopefully, gather reinforcement for the fight that has found them. Unbeknownst to the three, the surviving Americans, hungry for revenge and swift, merciless justice.
In the summer before it’s world premiere, I had tweeted that the film was high up on our watch-list for Fantasia. Director Ted Geoghegan almost immediately replied, “I hope you like your tension drenched in sad character drama. This one is a total 180 from We Are Still Here in every way. :)” Delivering on that promise, Mohawk is a 90 minutes of tense, blood soaked retribution. Every death, on either side, is tragic. Geoghegan and Hendrix show us two groups dedicated to protecting the ones they love at all costs. Tragedy and agony fuel our characters to march further into an inferno that threatens to claim their very souls.
There was a time when the Native Americans were feared. They were seen as either nomadic savages or cannibalistic devils. In truth, the settlers of that time proved to be the true evil roaming the countryside. When his team expresses concern over trekking deeper into the forest after Oak, their Captain assures them that “We are the only Monsters in these woods“.
Mohawk is a home-invasion period piece that will hang over your film library like a dark, ominous cloud. The hardest part about revenge films, is seeing exactly how that impending rampage is justified. Your Last House on the Left‘s, your I Spit on Your Grave‘s- they challenge you to see a world in which your “hero” has earned their revenge. And oh boy, does Mohawk earn it’s revenge.
Alamo Drafthouse Omaha, Omaha, NE
Capitol Theater, Cleveland, OH
Charlotte Film Society, Charlotte, NC
PhilaMOCA, Philadelphia, PA