Like last year’s Bone Tomahawk, director Ted Geoghegan’s savage cat-and-mouse conflict – set during the end of the American War of Independence – is a thrilling piece of pulpy genre cinema which also succeeds in bringing some emotional weight and finely-drawn characters amongst the limp-lopping and blood-spurting action. Packed with a strong ensemble of performances who may not be household names, but leave an indelible mark (particularly lead, Kaniehtiio Horn) this is the kind of film which will take an unsuspecting audience by pleasant surprise.

“We’re the only monsters out here” is a telling line uttered by the embattled, spiteful commander Holt (played with menacing relish by Ezra Buzzington) – one of the small unit of trackers despatched to hunt down a Mohawk (Justin Rain) who has torched their encampment. Initially evading capture, the Mohawk, accompanied by his lover, Oak (Horn) and a graceful British soldier (Eamon Farren) with whom she is also romantically involved with, are apprehended by the enemy, and thus begins a tense, prolonged battle to evade capture in the dense forest.

Mohawk is a dark, oppressive tale with little in the way of levity, but Geoghegan has crafted an impressive period yarn which acts as a barbed indictment of colonialism, wrapped up in a crowd-pleasing display of splatter and gore. You don’t need to dig particularly deep to draw parallels between the prejudiced and arrogant cabal of troops chasing their own tails and the contemporary political climate in the US. It’s this sort of attention to detail which lifts the film from an impressive little genre entry to something much more resonant and thought-provoking.

Alongside those elements, the director also peppers his film with an alluring mysticism, initially stemming from a character’s dream state, but coming to the fore much later. The film’s obvious low budget is far from a hindrance, and instead, really works in its favour, conjuring up a stripped-down, claustrophobic vision of a sweaty, forest-bound hell on earth. In fact, due to that setting and the soldier’s predicament as they struggles in the enveloping undergrowth, the film occasionally evokes the entirely welcome memory, accidental or otherwise, of the special forces team being systemically picked off in John McTiernan’s 1987 classic, Predator. Enhanced by Wojciech Golczewski’s atmospheric anachronistic synth-leaden score, Mohawk grips right up to the OTT ending, which may be slightly at odds with the authenticity Geoghegan reaches for earlier in the film, but is wholly satisfying in its own way.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Mohawk
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Mild-mannered civilian by day, passionate cinephile and dedicated blogger at night, my obsession began with seeing the image of Luke staring wistfully at the two stars of Tatooine, and 30-plus years later, that love have never wavered.