The genre-bending “The Wind” explores the terrors of the isolated prairie, with a slow-burning horror that creeps up on you like a cold chill in the night.
Director Emma Tammi’s feature debut The Wind is an amalgam of genres all vying for your attention. While it can best described as a psychological supernatural western set amidst the backdrop of a 19th-century American frontier, it also delves into the things humans are capable of when faced with the dangers of our own minds.
The story centers on Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) and her husband Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) who have made a modest, lonely life for themselves. This changes when a German couple Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) and Gideon (Dylan McTee) move across the plains, making this lovely little town grow in population to a city of 4. Without spoiling too much, Lizzy is left alone for some time after an event changes the landscape of their humble existence – and this is where things begin to go unravel.
In her desolation, Lizzy begins to question her reality, relationship, and memories.
Hints of a supernatural element are touched upon to an extent, in the form of a series of books Lizzy possess describing “Demons of the Prairie”.
This provides a hint at the madness which can manifest itself on the aforementioned prairie. The beauty of the way this all transpires is that there is no exact cohesive timeline. We experience all of this as it unravels in Lizzy’s mind — making you wonder if the previous scene actually transpired, or if it is just a lucid misinterpretation of Lizzy’s innate fears.
Aesthetically and thematically, The Wind is reminiscent of 2015 cult classic The Witch, with both touching upon feminist horror and the maladies the human brain can be capable of when faced with isolation.
Director Emma Tammi does a masterful job setting up starkly beautiful, wide shots that truly convey the desolate American frontier.
All in all, The Wind serves up mild jump scares but keeps you anticipating how it will all end for Lizzy. This is made even more believable by Caitlin Gerard’s exceptional performance, conveying her pain and fear effortlessly.
For all the great things the convoluted pace brings to the table, it does bog things down towards the latter half of the movie — making the pacing feel jarring at times. This sometimes leaves you wondering if you missed something important. While one could argue that this was the director’s intent, it’s something that should be mentioned.
2019 saw a spike in films helmed by women, as well as genre films centering on a female protagonist. This provides a new perspective that is quite refreshing to see explored in the genre. It’s especially compelling when we get both a unique perspective and a unique approach to genre-bending filmmaking, as we do in this chilling western tale of isolation and madness.