Panic Fest Review: MOHAWK (2017)

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing a movie I have been hearing about lately. Being quite the history nerd, and especially early American history, it piqued my interest. I’m talking about a little film called MOHAWK and to my great fortune it was screening at Panic Fest 2018, the yearly film festival that occurs in the wildly underestimated city of Kansas City, MO.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie and it seemed almost out of place in the line up among slashers like Victor Crowley and bloody office hi-jinx’s like Mayhem. It follows a strong Mohawk woman named Oak during the war of 1812. After her lover Calvin burns down a camp full of men that were attacking their people, eight men that escape the camp are hell bent on revenge and hunt Oak, Calvin, and her other lover, an Englishman named Joshua, through the forest.

This movie was written and directed by Ted Geoghegan, which you probably know from his directorial debut, We Are Still Here (which is a fabulous ghost story by the way, I highly recommend it). While We Are Still Here and MOHAWK aren’t even in the same genre, they share some of the same themes and lovely intricacies that only occur when a director has a strong voice.

The movie stars Kaiehtiio Horn (an actual member of the Mohawk nation), Justin Rain (a member of the Sioux nation) and Eamon Farren, as well as Ezra Buzzington, Robert Longstreet, Noah Segan and WWE star Jon Huber.

After watching this movie, one thing is for certain – that movie most definitely belonged in the line-up. Never has a movie made me feel so overwhelmingly uncomfortable while at the same time been so wildly entertaining. I left the theater feeling dirty, embarrassed, and completely fascinated by this film. I was so happy that a film was made not only to appropriately represent the atrocities that occurred on the Native tribes in our early history but also represent the people without fetishizing them.

I learned in the Q&A after the show that extensive research and communication with the Mohawk nation made for historically accurate clothing and make-up on the actors. Weighing heavily with political and social commentary, this movie not only tells the bloody history of America, but also of the violent times we are going through right now. The movie speaks volumes and makes the watcher think.

The soundtrack to this movie was composed by Wojciech Golczewski, who also composed the soundtrack for We Are Still Here. It carries a somewhat modern soundtrack that fits like a puzzle piece in with the movie and the sounds of the movie alone are their own character. The use of sound in this movie was phenomenal and created an atmosphere that could be perceived even if you closed your eyes.

I loved this movie, more than I ever thought I would. It STILL has me thinking about it, wanting to learn more and tearing my heart apart because, even though the story of Oak is fictional, the story of senseless killing of the Mohawk is very real. Do yourself a favor and see this movie, then go and read and learn and be more understanding and compassionate with each other. We can watch this intense and charged movie and try and learn from our mistakes and be entertained while we do it.

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