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The Wendigos are the main antagonists of the 2015 video game, Until Dawn. The victims of an ancient curse placed on Blackwood Mountain, the Wendigo are humans possessed and transformed by the Native American spirit of the same name - the direct result of having resorted to cannibalism while on the Mountain. The most prominent of these Wendigos is Hannah Washington, having transformed after being forced to devour her sister Beth while stranded in the mines.
Recognized by their emaciated physiques, spider-like limbs and tattered pale skin, the Wendigo are rarely seen until they decide to pounce. Capable of incredible bursts of speed, they are able to keep pace and even outpace their opponents seemingly without tiring, their motion-sensitive vision allowing them to home in on fleeing prey. Despite their frail appearance, Wendigo demonstrate impressive physical strength and resilience, proving tough enough to withstand a high-caliber rifle shot to the skull, and strong enough to crush a human skull with their bare hands. They seem to favor brutal, deliberate methods of killing their prey, such as impaling them on hooks, gouging out their eyes or even tearing their jaws off - indicating that Wendigo are more sadistic than simple animalistic killers.
Fortunately, Wendigo are not unstoppable: the same motion-sensitive eyes that allow them to track moving prey function poorly in the face of stationary targets; victims standing perfectly still may evade the Wendigos' notice entirely. As the stranger notes, they also instinctively fear fire, recognizing it as the only weapon that can destroy their natural body armour: flamethrowers, flare guns, even makeshift explosives can all be used to bring down a Wendigo - though the stranger advises that this should be a last resort, as killing a Wendigo releases its spirit into the air, allowing it to possess again.
Wendigo behavior varies, though the stranger notes they adhere to certain patterns like any animal. One consistent pattern is their habit of screeching and screaming, usually as a means of frightening their prey into moving. It's interesting to note, however, that they also have the ability to mimic human voices in order to trick their prey, though it is not known how Wendigo accomplish this.
Notably, despite their bestial nature, the Wendigo still possess a few remnants of human intelligence, occasionally allowing them to outsmart or outmaneuver their prey. It's also implied that Wendigo also retain at least some memory of their past lives, as the most brutal of Hannah's attacks are directed against those directly responsible for the prank played upon her: Jessica, who planned the prank, has her jaw torn off; Emily, Jessica's co-conspirator, has her eyes gouged out; Matt, who helped film the incident, is impaled through the throat on a meat hook and left to drown in his own blood or has his face bashed in; Ashley, who participated in the prank, is decapitated or has her eyes gouged out. Also, depending on the player's actions, Hannah may be able to recognize her brother and spare his life - even taking him with her and providing him with human flesh to turn him into a fellow Wendigo.
According to the Stranger's journal, the curse of the Wendigo originated within Blackwood Mountain itself. The Cree tribes native to the area venerated Blackwood Mountain as sacred ground, refusing to hunt animals or harm the mountain in any way, for fear of disturbing the spirits that inhabited it. Unfortunately, prospectors surveying the mountain in 1891 found the area rich in tin and radium; their excavations woke the first of the Wendigo spirits and unleashed their curse upon the surrounding area.
Soon after, the first Wendigo possessions on the mountain began, prompting hunters such as the Stranger's grandfather to make a career out of tracking and capturing them; however, one particularly imposing specimen known as the Makkapitew eluded all such hunters, killing any who were able to catch up with it - including the Stranger's grandfather.
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, mining efforts on the mountain continued unopposed until 1952, when a long-neglected structural weakness led to a cave-in and trapped several miners inside. With no food available and no chance of rescue arriving within the next three weeks, they were forced to resort to cannibalism, murdering their companions and eating their flesh raw; of the thirty men trapped by the cave-in, only twelve emerged.
After their rescue, the "Miracle Men" were taken to the nearby Blackwood Pines Sanatorium for recuperation, where they slowly began transforming into Wendigos; fascinated by their inexplicable survival and their ongoing metamorphosis, the staff kept the miners under observation, studying and even experimenting on them. Eventually, the miners - now fully transformed - broke out and slaughtered the staff en mass, before fleeing into the wilderness, prompting the immediate shutdown of both the mines and the sanatorium by the authorities. With the owner of both properties having been killed in the breakout, all commercial developments on the mountain ceased, leaving Blackwood Pines effectively deserted - except, of course, for the Wendigo now infesting the area.
Fortunately, over the decades that followed, the Stranger tracked down each transformed miner and successfully captured them one by one, keeping them safely contained in the abandoned sanatorium while he went about hunting any other Wendigo that happened to emerge on the mountain. However, in the 1990's, horror movie director Bob Washington decided to build a luxurious vacation home for his family atop the mountain, and though the Stranger did his best to halt the construction of the lodge (on the grounds that the mountain was a Native American sacred site), his protests fell on deaf ears. Though the Stranger was easily able to continue his stewardship over the sanatorium, he had to work hard to ensure that the Wendigos did not target the Washington family on their occasional visits.
On the night of the prank on Hannah, the Stranger is hunting the legendary Makkapitew, having finally tracked it to Blackwood Mountain after years of pursuit. In turn, the Makkapitew is hunting Hannah and Beth Washington following their departure from the lodge, ultimately chasing them over the edge of a cliff: though they are able to cling to a branch long enough for the Stranger to frighten the Wendigo away, he is unable to save the twins from losing their grip and plunging into the abyss below.
While Beth dies on impact with the rocks at the base of the cliff, Hannah survives the ensuing tumble into the abandoned mines, though she is left with a broken leg that renders any escape from the caves impossible. Meanwhile, unaware of Hannah's survival, the Stranger avenges the twins' apparent deaths by incinerating the Makkapitew, deliberately breaking his rule of capturing Wendigo instead of killing them.
Hannah spends the next month waiting for a rescue that never arrives, trying desperately to stay alive despite the freezing temperatures and the lack of food. During this time, she also buries Beth's corpse in a makeshift grave and begins keeping a diary improvised from scraps of paper left in the mine, assuring herself that someone will eventually find her. However, heavy snowstorms and the labyrinthine tunnels layering the mountain render any such rescue attempts futile, ultimately forcing the search parties to conclude that Hannah and Beth are dead - much to the grief of the surviving Washingtons, especially Josh.
After a month of starvation, Hannah finds herself with only one option for continued survival: possessed by a Wendigo spirit, Hannah digs up her sister's body and devours it, sparing only the head - apparently out of grief and remorse. Within the next three days, Hannah finds herself growing stronger as the effects of the curse take hold, her diary degenerating into incoherent scrawls as she slowly transforms into a new Wendigo.
One year later
By the time the player characters return to Blackwood Pines, Hannah is likely the only Wendigo loose on the mountain. While the Stranger goes about tracking her down, Hannah roams freely across the Washington estate and the surrounding area, occasionally feeding on deer: Mike and Jessica encounter one of these deer during their journey to the guest cabin, finding a large buck with its throat torn open. During this chapter, the two also manage to get the attention of Hannah, who follows them up to the cabin, actively chasing them the remaining few hundred yards to their destination and dislodging Jessica's phone from her pocket in the process. Not clearly seeing their pursuer, Mike and Jessica assume that it was just a bear.
Believing themselves safe in the cabin, Mike and Jessica attempt to have the sex they've been planning most of the evening, only to be interrupted when Hannah throws Jessica's phone through the window. Under the impression that their friends have followed them to the cabin "to fuck with us just as we were getting down to business," Jessica storms outside and screams a tirade at the "pranksters," defiantly insisting that they can't ruin their good time no matter how hard they try - oblivious to the fact that Hannah is still listening. The moment Jessica returns to the cabin, the Wendigo grabs her through one of the windows and drags her outside, carrying her through the woods and into the derelict mining zone.
During Mike's pursuit, should the player miss too many button prompts or declines to take shortcuts, he'll arrive at the mine shaft too late, finding Jessica dead with her jaw torn off. If he takes the shortcuts and arrives in time, he finds Jessica badly hurt but alive. Regardless of whether she's alive or dead, the mining elevator Jessica is lying on will collapse while Mike is trying to move her away from it, sending her plummeting down the mine shaft. Though Mike is able to catch a glimpse of Hannah through the scope of a hunting rifle, he is unable to recognize the distant figure for what she truly is, and actually shooting the Wendigo merely leaves Hannah with a bullet flattened against her skull for the rest of the game. Fortunately, the Stranger arrives to investigate moments later, prompting Hannah to retreat.
Later, Hannah continues the hunt by trailing Emily and Matt along the cliffs to the radio tower while they attempt to call for help: tripping the motion sensor light almost instantly, she attempts to break through the trapdoor and attack the two; when this fails, she begins cutting the tower support cables, sending the badly-maintained radio tower crashing into the mines. There, Matt has to choose between saving Emily from the collapsing remains of the tower or jumping to safety: attempting to save Emily results in Matt falling deeper into the mines, where he is promptly attacked by Hannah. If Matt took and kept the flare gun from the tower, he can frighten her off with a flare; if not, he will be dragged into the Wendigo's larder, where he is impaled through the throat on a hook and left to slowly die.
During Emily's journey through the mines, she eventually meets the Stranger - though she quickly mistakes him for the "Psycho" terrorizing the mountain. When Hannah ambushes the two of them, the Stranger throws her a bag of flares and tells her to run while he attacks the Wendigo with his flamethrower. However, Hannah is eventually able to evade the Stranger and return to shadowing Emily, attacking her during her escape from the mines; in the event that Emily is able to avoid death by eyeball perforations - or from being bisected in the mine's rock crusher - she will escape the mines alive. However, if she doesn't have the flare gun with her, the Wendigo will manage to bite her on the shoulder - later causing problems due to misconceptions concerning the source of the Wendigo curse.
After Emily manages to make it back to the lodge and reunite with the other player characters gathered there, they are visited by the Stranger, who - after disarming Mike and Chris - finally explains the nature of the threat facing them, including the fact that the spirit of the Wendigo will be unleashed if anyone in the mountains resorts to cannibalism. Mike, having been under the impression that Josh was responsible for Jessica's death, belatedly remembers the various glimpses of the Wendigo he caught during his journey between the lodge, the cabin and the mine shaft. Worse still, he remembers that he left Josh tied up in the shack, exposed and defenseless should the Wendigo invade the estate. Though the Stranger tells him that Josh will already be dead, Chris plans a rescue attempt, prompting the Stranger to escort him through the forest.However, the shack is empty except for a broken chair and a pool of blood. Leaving the scene as quickly as possible, they are promptly ambushed by Hannah, who decapitates the Stranger and chases Chris back to the lodge - also decapitating him if the player fails to complete the button prompts in time. Regardless of whether Chris survives or not, Hannah is seen dragging an unconscious Josh into the forest soon after.
Realizing that Josh has the only key for the cable car and thus the only means of escaping the mountain, Mike decides to track down the Wendigo's lair in the hopes of rescuing him. Travelling through the lodge's underground passage to the Sanatorium, he hopes to find a way back into the mines; unfortunately, the trail proves more complicated than the last time, leading him (and one of the Stranger's pet wolves, depending on Mike's choices) on a roundabout route through the Psychiatric Wing of the Sanatorium. There, he finds that without the Stranger to keep them in check, the imprisoned Wendigo are in the process of escaping: at least four can break free of their restraints and pursue Mike through the building, hounding him at every turn. This hunt ultimately requires him to be rescued by Sam, usually around the time Mike is forced to blow up the Stranger's supply of flammables and set the Sanatorium ablaze. Unfortunately, not only are several Wendigo spirits released into the air, but the ongoing destruction of the Sanatorium allows the surviving Wendigo captives to escape as well.
Following the path back into the mines, Sam and Mike find their way down to Hannah's lair; along the way, they have the opportunity to locate both Beth's grave and Hannah's diary - whereupon they realize the prime Wendigo's true identity. From here, the two are forced through a larder of Hannah's past victims, including not only the Stranger but any other playable characters who have died prior to this chapter; unknown to them, Hannah is watching them from the depths of the nearby lake, waiting for them to return. Sure enough, once Josh has been rescued and Sam allowed to climb to safety, Mike and Josh are forced to leave via the lake - and are immediately ambushed by Hannah. If the player was unable to uncover Hannah's diary, Josh will realize the truth too late and die from a crushed skull; if the diary was uncovered, Josh will notice the butterfly tattoo on the Wendigo's shoulder in time and shout Hannah's name; recognizing her brother at last, Hannah spares his life, dragging him away unharmed.
Shortly afterwards, if Jessica or Matt or both have survived, they will find themselves at the bottom of the mine shaft. Though injured and confused by the events of the last few hours, they are able to continue through the mine until Hannah arrives to continue the hunt: attempting to run will mean instant death for Jessica, and possibly for Matt if the button prompts are not enacted in time. However, if the player can remain still, Jessica and Matt will survive the night.
Upon Mike and Sam's return to the lodge, they find the surviving characters (if any) fleeing from a pack of Wendigo; having escaped the Sanatorium, they have traversed the passageway between it and the lodge, invading the building from within. Unfortunately, attempting to flee through the front door leaves them face-to-face with Hannah. Fortunately, the other Wendigo do not tolerate Hannah's presence, either mistaking her for prey due to their motion sensitive eyesight or perceiving her as a potential competitor; whatever the case, a fight breaks out, with the Sanatorium Wendigos ganging up on Hannah and Hannah tearing many of them limb from limb. Over the course of the battle, they damage a gas pipe, giving Mike and Sam the idea of blowing up the lodge. Depending on the players' decision, Sam and Mike either give their friends the time to escape and blow the lodge up after getting out themselves, or blow the lodge up with everyone inside, leaving no survivors. One way or another, the Wendigos are effectively purged from the mountain.
However, if Josh survived the game the Wendigo curse lives on: having been trapped in Hannah's lair and possessed by another Wendigo spirit, Josh finds himself driven by the same hunger that consumed his sister. Starving and unable to escape, he feasts upon the corpses stored in Hannah's larder, gradually transforming into a Wendigo. By the time the rescue workers arrive, he is eating the Stranger's head and half-transformed, allowing him to make short work of the policemen who would have rescued him.
List of Wendigos
- Joshua Washington (Determinant)
- Hannah Washington
- Billy Bates
- Gordon Bennett (Determinant)
- Anna Bennett (Determinant)
- The inpatient (Determinant)
- 11 Miners that survived the cave collapse in 1952
- Given the Makkapitew was bigger and fiercer than other Wendigo, and seeing as Hannah's Wendigo form is bigger and stronger than those who escaped from the Sanatorium, it's likely that the Makkapitew was the spirit that possessed Hannah.