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Directed by Ted Geoghegan and co-written by Geoghegan and Grady Hendrix, 2017's Mohawk is set during the War Of 1812, with Americans and British/Canadian forces locked in frequent, bloody combat. Here we meet a Mohawk woman named Oak (Kaniehtiio Horn). There's more to Oak's situation than they realize, however. She's involved in a bit of a love triangle with fellow Mohawk Calvin (Justin Rain) and a British arms dealer named Joshua (Eamon Farren). Calvin was involved in a raid against Hezekiah Holt (Erza Buzzington), an American that gathers together a few men to form a posse of sorts. Their intentions are to kill any Mohawk unfortunate enough to cross their path.
As such, Oak and Calvin, with Joshua going along with them, go on the run, hoping to find safety in the woods and with their tribespeople. But of course, Holt is overtaken with his bloodlust and his thirst for revenge, which means it won't be easy…
What starts off as a bit of a character drama quickly and with ruthless efficiency shifts gears and heads straight on into action/horror/revenge territory. The period setting and Mohawk characters help to set the movie apart from other revenge films, and that's something that Geoghegan and his crew are quick (and smart) to take advantage of. Through cinematographer Karim Hussain's lens, the woods become a deadly place. The camerawork in the picture is very effective (if you're familiar with Hussain's other work then you know he's got a great eye for composition and lighting and we see that put to very good use in the picture). The movie is quick with its pacing and chock full of forward momentum, aided considerably by a tense and exciting and unusual (for the period, at least) synth-heavy score from Wojciech Golczewski (who also scored Geoghegan's first picture, We Are Still Here).
Performances are quite good. Kaniehtiio Horn makes for an interesting lead as a strong female character who is cast against type. She proves to be the right choice for the role, handling both the dramatic side of the story and the more action-intensive aspects of it in equal measure. Oak remains mysterious throughout the movie, maintaining an almost mystic, Shaman-esque quality that helps to keep her intriguing to the audience. Geoghegan and Hnedrix are savvy enough with their writing to not give away all of her secrets. She has good chemistry with Justin Rain and Eamon Farren and the first twenty-minutes or so of the picture allow the three of them to form a believable, if unorthodox, onscreen relationship. The same cannot be said of the villains, however. Erza Buzzington is a decent enough casting choice, as are Robert Longstreet, Jon Huber and Noah Segan as his crewmembers but these are basically one note characters. They work in the context of the story and give us what we need in the form of some hiss-worthy villains, but a bit more character development for the antagonists would have made a difference.
Still, what's here is very good. For a film made on a modest budget (the film isn't particularly glossy, but thankfully enough it's exciting enough that most won't mind so much) the production values are strong. If it all fees a little bit like Last House On The Left set in the woods of 1814, so be it because it works really well. Of course, it all leads to a satisfyingly gory, grisly and violent conclusion but the trip to that conclusion is interesting for the myriad of reasons noted.The Blu-ray
Mohawk arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and it looks great. The film was shot digitally and so obviously there's no print damage or grain to contend. Fine detail is quite strong, and color reproduction very impressive. Skin tones look nice and natural and there's good depth and texture to the image. There's a tiny bit of shimmering here and there and maybe the odd compression artifacts that pops up now and then, but odds are good that if you're not looking for them you won't notice them as they're pretty minor. Otherwise, things shape up quite nicely here.Sound:
The English language DTS-HD 5.1 track sounds great. There's nice depth here and very good channel separation. The action scenes are quite lively and make good use of the surrounds, while the quieter scenes allow you to appreciate some of the ambient noise in the background. The score has nice range to it as well and the track is free of any hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.Extras:
No extras outside of a trailer and menus screens unfortunately.Final Thoughts:
Ted Geoghegan's Mohawk tries, and mostly succeeds, at doing something different. If it is a little rough around the edges from time to time, it nevertheless provides an exciting viewing experience ripe with tension and thrills. The Blu-ray release from Dark Sky Films is disappointing in the extra features department but it does look and sound quite nice. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.