Wendingo (aka Fort Kent)

Screenplays

Wendingo aka Fort Kent was a script which Colin J McCracken was commissioned to write back in 2014.

It was a supernatural thriller based on the cannibal spirit monster of Native American legend and there was some fantastic talent (director and stars) attached at one stage.

Sadly, it went the way of many projects and fell apart during development. I was always quite proud of the screenplay though, as it created a sense of mystery and disorientation within the frozen North; toying with both lore and an environment which I had wanted to explore in my writing for some time.

I had forgotten all about this project until I recently unearthed the folder that it was hiding in.”

Here’s the treatment.

“Cody Lacroix is a teenager who stands at a very dangerous crossroads in life. A young member of a dying tribe of Native Americans living in Canada, he is surrounded by a people who have almost given up on life itself. From the shattered remnants of what was once a loving family unit, he finds himself moved between a series of relatives, friends and half way houses.

During a stay with his alcoholic grandfather, Cody witnesses an act of terrible cruelty which sends him over the edge. With his only friend Russ, he embarks on a rampage of wanton destruction, fuelled by frustration, rage and teenage angst.

His actions result in him being taken up in front of the tribal elders, who are sympathetic to an extent, but equally adamant that the boy needs to be shown the correct path in life. Both Cody and Russ are sent to The Sylvestre House, a half-way home for troubled boys where they will be given guidance from the parental until of the eponymous couple, Polly and Booker, as well as a spiritual elder; Sam Blackbird.

The house, a foreboding, but welcoming old mansion, is an indefinable mixture of comfort and unease.  Cody has never felt so at home, but there is something stirring within him which he cannot comprehend; something powerful; something evil.

The other kids range from confrontational to incommunicative, but Cody bonds with Blackbird, who introduces the boys to the Sweat Lodge, where through a mixture of heat and ancient practices, he elicits emotions and conjures visions; ones designed to take the boys to a higher plain of spiritual and intellectual awakening. Cody is the most receptive to this, and he enters a world that begins to explain what is happening all around him.

Blackbird tells the boys of the Wendigo; a beast which is driven by a sickness of the soul and insatiable hunger for human flesh. It sets an uncomfortable scene. Some shrug it off as local legend. Cody, however, pays heed.

By way of the hallucinogenic properties of the Sweat Lodge, Cody is taken into the life of Dr Thomas Burton, and transported to the trenches of the First World War; The Battle of Passchendaele, 1917.

Burton is a field doctor, up to his elbows in gore. He simply cannot attend to the amount of casualties, or withstand the horror, but somehow he makes it through. The doctor returns home to England, to a loving wife, Katie, who waited at home in hope of his return, despite the ever growing death toll.

Enamoured by stories of Canada from soldiers he met in the trenches, and spurred on by his wife’s discovery of an available position in a remote Alberta town named Fort Kent. They decided to move; to leave Europe and soon enough, they were click here living a new life in seemingly idyllic surroundings. The fields of battle couldn’t be further away, but the darkness that dwelled in them still swirled through the trees and whistled down the valleys of their adopted landscape.

One day, a native, Kicking Horse, comes to Burton looking for assistance with a bite; it is like nothing he has ever witnessed before, and the man’s demeanour is unsettling. Burton’s assistant is fearful, and tells him of the Wendigo legend; of how it preys on the weak in lonely towns such as Fort Kent.
Intrigued, Burton asks around, and his inquisitions are met with a range of emotions; from flippancy to ingrained terror. Shortly after this; the nightmares begin and Burton finds himself awakening naked, confused, having dreamt of the battlefield; of his new home; of a hunger that burns within him.

Sam Blackbird snaps Cody and the boys out of the trance. Cody is deeply affected by what he has experienced, but buries it so that no one notices. Having been given tasks to do around the Sylvestre House, Cody attends to them; grooming and feeding the dogs, with whom he feels very close, and keeping watch over the poultry.
He has a further altercation with a mean kid named Scott. When Scott kicks one of the dogs, Cody’s rage lets loose and he beats him half to death. Cody is subsequently punished, and falls asleep that night in a terrible rage. He awakens confused; seeking air, he ventures outside, only to hear the pathetic yelp of a dog being slaughtered. He finds Scott; shovel in hand, having killed the animals.
The rest is a blur.

Scott’s absence is noticed, but Cody cannot remember anything, and so does not feel he has anything to hide.
Blackbird appears, telling them there will be a sweat lodge that morning. Cody is apprehensive, as he knows that he will re-enter Burton’s life, and he is unprepared for what may be revealed to him. Sure enough, before long he is pumping sweat, breathing in the aromatic fumes of the lodge, and slipping into a separate state of consciousness.

The Wendigo; praying on those who possess the spirit of darkness. Anger, hate, lust, addiction; these are the gifts which the Wendigo accepts as an invitation to come into your life. Cody learns, through Burton, the tale of Swift Runner; a Native American who, in 1879, whilst caught amidst a heavy winter, butchered and ate his wife and children. They say the Wendigo got to him.

Burton’s idyll quickly turns into his personal hell; infestations of rats swarm the town. Spanish Flu runs ragged, which in turn leads to a smallpox epidemic; one which claims his wife, and his sanity. Physically transforming, Burton becomes possessed by the Wendigo and systematically slaughters each villager, feasting on their carcasses.

It’s almost too much for Cody. Feeling every sensation, every emotion that Burton felt, he comes to in a daze. The police have arrived. Scott’s body has been found; along with Cody’s torn clothing, buried in a shallow grave. His fate is sealed; he has become the monster. No matter how much he tried to fight it; to search for good, his soul and body were taken.

Now a murderer, Cody is led away to an inescapable fate, but not before he spies a headline in a newspaper that lies on the front seat of the police car; a horrific incident nearby the sickness is spreading.

And winter has only just begun.”