Score a big plus in terms of originality for writer/director Ted Geoghegan’s Mohawk, which could be described as a murky stew made from the works of James Fenimore Cooper and Stephen King. Imagine The Last of the Mohicans infused with a healthy blend of Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning. Horror fans know what I mean.
Geoghegan has made many feature films as both producer and writer, but they were mostly low-budget and little-seen. He made his real mark in 2015 directing his first movie, a well-received horror film, We Are Still Here, usual rural New England haunted house variety.
Replete with impressive photography, lots of jump-scares and abundant gore, We Are Still Here benefited from an impressive cast of genre favorites, including Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator fame and gore, and Lisa Marie (Tim Burton's ex-muse who graced films like Sleepy Hollow, Ed Wood and Mars Attacks!). Also in the mix was the always reliable, multitalented Larry Fessenden (I Sell the Dead, Stake Land) in a typical scene-stealing minor roles.
On the surface, the plot of Mohawk (Geoghegan’s second directorial effort) was totally different from that. Set during the War of 1812, the three protagonists are Paul, a young British soldier played by Eamon Farren, and his two Indian companions, Oak (Kaniehtiio Horn), a young Mohawk woman and her tribesman Calvin Two Rivers (Justin Rain). Whatever the confusing personal relationship is among the three, the fact is that Oak is pregnant.
As far as plot goes, the bond among them merely underscores a mutual commitment. In addition, all three (presumably led by Paul the Brit) are steadfast in their opposition to the Americans. (Yikes, the Redcoats are the good guys!)
Unfortunately, the anti-Americans are unable to convince the other Mohawks to join their crusade, leaving Calvin as the sole butcher of some sleeping Yanks on a one-man midnight raid. Consequently, the three Limey-loving heroes are pursued by a band of uncouth bloody-minded Americans led by Colonel Hezekiah Holt (Ezra Buzzington), the main villain of the piece.
Col. Holt is flat in his nastiness; the other American troopers are more even, individualized by their appearance and accouterments. One sports a complicated pair of glasses and magnifying lenses similar to those worn by Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow. Another has a big bushy beard; the Indian translator wears a quasi-beret and smokes a pipe nonstop.
Muskets, flintlocks and an occasional tomahawk are the era-appropriate weapons of choice.
This attention to period fashion and authenticity (I assume it's authentic) is particularly powerful in the two Mohawk heroes; they have the most impressive warrior paint in the history of film. The lower half of Calvin’s face from nose to neck is painted black so he seems to be wearing a scarf; Oak’s upper face is also painted black, making her look a bit like a singularly dangerous raccoon.
A chase is on as the body count predictably rises. As in We Are Still Here, Geoghegan imbues his quasi-historical drama with the requisite gore of a horror film. Speaking of horror flicks, the third act swerves directly into a supernatural realm. Its elements have only been suggested by the ominous woods where the pursuers become more lost and confused by the minute. Horror fans will naturally think of Blair Witch or any recent genre films like YellowBrickRoad and The Ritual.
While Mohawk looks great, it was impossible (for me, at least) to overlook the many instances of painfully bad dialogue and acting. With the exception of Ezra Buzzington, most of the cast members wear their costumes with far more authenticity than they deliver their lines.
So, I liked the idea and the look of Mohawk more than the film itself. You may see it differently.