Review: Cold Meat


The story of the Wendigo is an enduring one that has been the basis of numerous films over the years.

It appeared as a motivating character in Steven King’s 1983 novel “Pet Cemetery,” as the title character in numerous films, as the possessing spirit in Guillermo del Toro’s “Antlers,” and now in “Cold Meat.”

The Wendigo is a spirit creature of North American Indian legend, especially the Algonquins. According to the myth, this spirit roams the forests seeking out men who have lost their humanity, typically by resorting to murder and cannibalism. Once seized by the Wendigo, they also become wandering spirits, endlessly seeking their own prey.

“Cold Meat” — who ever came up with that ridiculous title? — begins with a traveler, David (Allen Leech – “Downton Abbey”), stopping at a roadside diner late at night for coffee and a meal. However, the cook has gone home due to the impending storm so all that’s available is coffee and “the world’s best cherry pie.” After being served by waitress Ana (Nina Bergman – “Words”), he saves her from her brutal ex-husband, Vincent (Yan Tual – “Rifkin’s Festival”), who arrives while David is eating his cherry pie. Cool in the face of deadly threat, David manages to psych out Vincent, who finally leaves. A thankful Ana tells a bit of her history to the attentive stranger, and offers to cook him a steak herself.

The blizzard worsens as David continues driving, and Vincent, serendipitously coming upon him and seeking revenge, tries to drive him off the road. David escapes, only to crash into a snowbank on a lonely back road deep within an Indian reservation. From this point on, things take a terrifying turn.

After its beginning, the film devolves into a two person play, carried out in the confines of the trapped automobile while the blizzard rages, seemingly endlessly. There is the freezing enemy outside, but an even more dangerous enemy within, as two people battle each other for survival.

Canadian director/writer Sebastien Drouin (“Fearless”) has fashioned a remarkable psychological tale that meshes modern day horror with the legend of the Wendigo. Working with a script also written by James Kermack (“Afghanistan”) and Andrew Desmond (“The Sonata”), the three have created a taut, battle of wills and stamina thriller. Excellent performances are elicited from the few players, especially from Allen Leech, who played the quintessential “good guy” in the Downton Abbey series.

This is a small movie, with a very unfortunate title, but it carries a big wallop. I highly recommend it.

Runtime: One hour, 30 minutes
Availability: Limited theatrical release Feb. 23, 2024

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