Review: MOHAWK (2017)
Even before he directed his first feature, 2015’s WE ARE STILL HERE, Ted Geoghegan had an impressive list of credits to his name. He’d written three scripts for Andreas Schnaas including NIKOS: THE IMPALER. He wrote BARRICADE for Timo Rose and the American gorefest SWEATSHOP. He had producer credits on it and 100 TEARS among others. And he worked as a PR person for other films. Now with MOHAWK, he takes a small step away from the genre with a historical action film. But it’s still steeped in horror traditions.
As a tribe, the Mohawks have stayed neutral during the War of 1812. The British send Joshua (Eamon Farren CHAINED) to convince them to fight against the Americans. He is accepted by the tribe and involved in a polyamorous relationship with Oak (Kaniehtiio Horn HEMLOCK GROVE) and Calvin Two Rivers (Justin Rain FEAR THE WALKING DEAD). He can’t convince the tribe to take a side. He does, however, inspire Calvin to launch a solo attack on an American camp, with deadly results.
Not unexpectedly, this brings the wrath of the Americans down on them. A party led by the psychotic Hezekiah Holt (Ezra Buzzington THE HILLS HAVE EYES, TRASH FIRE) is after the trio and will do anything to bring them back. As the bodies fall on both sides, MOHAWK becomes a brutal battle for survival.
As an action film, MOHAWK certainly does a lot right. The script is tense, and the fights are well-staged. However, it’s obvious that Geoghegan wasn’t ready to break from the horror genre totally. He co-wrote the script with horror novelist Grady Hendrix, and it shows in such scenes as Oak’s nightmare/near-death experience and a finale in the fog-shrouded, body-filled camp that Calvin attacked. It looks more like a vision of Hell than the American frontier. It’s no surprise that Karim Hussain was once again Geoghegan’s cinematographer.
The level of graphic gore and torture scenes are also more on the level of horror than action. MOHAWK doesn’t just splash blood around we see it spurt from gaping throat wounds, we hear people drowning in their own blood and see the effects of knives and axes in loving close up. This could almost be classed as survival horror, along the lines of RITUALS or WILDERNESS.
MOHAWK also manages to avoid the cliché noble native/evil white man scenario so many films employ, but this comes at a price. The Americans, especially Holt, are portrayed as ruthless, even psychotic. But it’s Joshua’s attempts to stir the Mohawks up, and Calvin with his unprovoked slaughter of the sleeping Americans, that actually cause the hostilities. Nobody is truly blameless, nobody is noble here. While that’s certainly more realistic, it’s only because one side is portrayed as a lot more evil than the other that you have someone to cheer for.
While not as good as WE ARE STILL HERE, MOHAWK is a solid, fast-paced thriller. Just be prepared for it to be a lot more graphic than most action films.
MOHAWK will be released in select theatres and on VOD/Digital HD on March 2nd from Dark Sky Films.