Wind Walkers sees a soldier returning from a top secret mission in Afghanistan. While suffering from PTSD, he goes on a hunting trip with several friends in the Florida Everglades. A friend who had come back earlier from the same mission has gone AWOL, and after several strange occurrences, it seems like they both brought something evil back with them that is now stalking all of them and infecting them one by one.
Returning from a five-year hiatus and with a new partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, the After Dark Horrorfest is back with a new crop of “8 Films to Die For.” All the films were released in select theaters and on VOD October 16, 2015, with a DVD release date of October 27, 2015.
Rounding out this latest batch of 8 Films to Die For, Wind Walkers attempts to put a completely new spin on a somewhat familiar horror story by adding in the mystique of Native American folklore, and by making it a kind of political commentary. The film opens with an older Native American man recounting the legend of the wind walkers, spirits who linger on the wind and exist to punish those who invade the lands of others and try to change them or take them over. The parallels that are made between what happened when settlers arrived in America and the Iraq war are obvious, but with the way the story is presented to us, such lofty goals get lost because everything that happens is just very confusing.
Soldier Sean Kotz is the main character that we follow, and he takes on a role similar to that of an unreliable narrator. He has obviously seen and been through something horrible. He has since been declared unfit for duty, has been prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, and has trouble adjusting to life back home, even when surrounded by family and friends. Zane Holtz’s stoic performance often makes the character a hard one for the audience to read–we don’t know how he is going to react to a given situation. This in turn causes conflict among the other characters, as they are unable to trust what he sees or knows.And just like the audience for most of the film, the characters are not sure what is going on. People are taken by the wind walkers and return infected with an illness of some kind that has elements of both zombiism and cannibalism. The afflicted have an insatiable hunger (perhaps a metaphor for man’s hunger for power?), sometimes resorting to eating pieces of their own bodies. The makeup effects here are actually quite good, giving the characters haunting eyes of either white or yellow, black veins, and tiny worms that can be seen crawling beneath their skin. But again, the goal of wind walkers by causing this sickness is not entirely clear–do they just want the infected to suffer? Or to spread the disease among their own kind as a way of payback?
The editing of the film only seems to add to the viewer’s confusion. The flashbacks and jumping around in time for quick little scenes are not really necessary, and a more linear narrative structure would have been better appreciated. Other sudden shifts in time and place force you to reassess for a moment where the characters are in the story. Though there is a good amount of action, the pacing of the film is more in tune with Kotz’s mental state. It is slow and calculated, sometimes spending too much time focusing on insignificant things.
Wind Walkers is most definitely a thought-provoking movie, but almost too much so. I’m still quite puzzled by what I saw, and I feel like I need just a little bit more explanation or information to really get the message of the movie.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director: Russell Friedenberg
Writer: Russell Friedenberg
Stars: Zane Holtz, Glen Powell, Castille London
Studio/ Production Co: Iron Circle Pictures, Sweet Tomato Films, After Dark Films
Length: 93 minutes
Sub-Genre: Psychological thriller