L’Inhumain Director Jason Brennan On The Symbolism Behind The Wendigo

Director Jason Brennan’s captivating new horror, L’Inhumain, will be making its English Canada premiere on August 23rd on all major VOD platforms.

The film is a fascinating modern take on the myth of the Wendigo, a supernatural being belonging to the spiritual traditions of the Anishinaabe peoples of North America.

This is your first fictional feature. What led you to make a genre film about the Wendigo? 

The Wendigo story is something that I heard for the first time when I was a young kid spending my summers back in my home community of Kitigan Zibi. I think that’s when the fascination started and especially wanting to know more about this creature. Sure when I first heard about it, it was kind of like a joke, it was one of those “bogeyman“ stories that you hear around a fire but then as I got older, the story changed and when you hear accounts from different elders and people of the older generation you start seeing that the Wendigo is much more that a old folk tale.

To me it’s really the symbolism behind the Wendigo. The way that the creature is used metaphorically is what inspired me to make my film. I think that the themes like greed, never being satisfied, eternal hunger, loss of culture, loss of who we are as humans are really something that I wanted to explore and for a first Nations person this story was the best way for me to do it. 

Can you tell us more about the character of Matthieu and the journey this film takes him on? 

Matt is a successful surgeon who’s had to leave his home community to pursue his professional career and his studies and although he has a great life, a great family it’s still isn’t enough for him. He’s falling into the trap of trying to fill the void with different vices. So when he’s called back home and agrees to go there with reluctance he’s forced to face many of his inner demons.   

In the film we see a downward spiral take place and take a hold of our protagonist and this is when he has his encounter with the WindyIn the film we see a downward spiral take place and take a hold of our protagonist and this is when he has his encounter with the Wendigo.

L’Inhumain was partly filmed in Anishinaabeg Territory. What was your experience filming there?

It was great, as mentioned I’m from Kitigan-Zibi and although my visits are much less frequent I love going back there. Seeing friends and family and working in my community is something I’m super proud of.  I’m also really grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given because of my ancestry and it’s important that when I get a chance that I try and find anyway to share my experiences and any of my endeavors with my community. I think that’s what defines indigenous filmmaking, is that we are first and foremost accountable towards our own community.

One make-or-break aspect of any horror movie is the special effects. What steps did you take to ensure these were on point in L’Inhumain? 

Definitely, for anyone that is attacking a genre film or any film with a lot of special effects it’s always risky because you don’t know exactly what you’re going to end up with and you’re hoping that you’ve picked the right VFX crew. Right off the bat my whole film was put together on a storyboard and I exactly knew when we would need VFX to cover for the creature. So I knew that I wouldn’t be wasting any shots or any money on any VFX that wouldn’t make it into the movie.

I think this also helped out our VFX team because they knew exactly what I was expecting to see. There’s nothing more frustrating for anybody to be working in circles or not having a clear indication on what they’re supposed to give you and what it’s supposed to be in the end.

What kind of experience can audiences expect from L’Inhumain? 

I’m hoping first and foremost that people just have a good time. My film is an indigenous film and I am extremely proud of that but I think the themes resonate with everyone and the scarves in the film will hopefully get everyone to jump.

And then I hope people go back and reflect on certain things in their own life and figure out what really matters to them and what is essential. I don’t want to seem like I’m giving anybody a the life lesson by it would be great for people to reflect on the layers of the film also. 

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

I’ve got a few different ideas but I hope to explore the small town and First Nations community coexistence with the help of another type of mystery suspense film or series.

L’Inhumain will be making its English Canada premiere on August 23rd on all major VOD platforms

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