April 1, 2019 The Wind (Movie Review)
The Western frontier was not exactly welcoming to those that dared to enter its hills and prairies in the 1800s — and for some it was downright haunting. Set against this harsh landscape, The Wind blends together a multitude of twists and turns to craft a Supernatural Thriller the likes of which you have never seen. IFC Midnight delivers this unique tale to select theaters, as well as VOD, on Friday, April 5, 2019.
Isaac (Ashley Zukerman: Manhattan series, The Code series) and Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard: American Crime series, Insidious: The Last Key 2018) have settled down and built themselves a homestead somewhere on the Western frontier in the late 1800s. They’re all alone in this terrain until another couple, Gideon (Dylan McTee: Sweet/Vicious series, Midnighters 2017) and Emma Harper (Julia Goldani Telles: Bunheads series, The Affair series), move into the cabin across the prairie.
With the arrival of new faces comes a kind of upheaval, one that brings an overwhelming dread, howling winds, and death. Isaac is quick to dismiss Lizzy’s concerns as superstition, though it appears that there truly is something very dark lurking in this godforsaken landscape. But is this evil that whispers across the tall grasses of the prairie an actual entity, or has Lizzy’s idle mind turned toward madness?
Clocking in at 86 minutes, The Wind is a feature directorial debut for the superbly talented Emma Tammi (Fair Chase documentary 2014, Election Day: Lens Across America TV documentary 2017) and was written by the equally skilled Teresa Sutherland (The Orphan 2011, The Winter 2012). The film also features the acting talents of Miles Anderson (House of Cards mini-series, La La Land 2016) and Martin C. Patterson (Mind Games short 2009, Longmire series).
Much like 2015’s The VVitch: A New England Folktale, The Wind takes you to a time in American history and sets an inherently creepy, ominous aura. Whether due to the uncertainty of frontier living or simply the utter quietude, this landscape sets a mood. The resultant film is a wonderful blend of Historical Fiction and Western, Supernatural Thriller and Horror. Its screenplay is entirely unique and delivers a twisted tale through the eyes of its main female character, though one might very loosely file it alongside 2017’s Bender, as far as its blend of Horror and Historical Fiction is concerned.
The Wind delivers something that is unique and focuses its tale through the eyes of its lead female character, Lizzy. In the role, Gerard is fierce! She anchors the entire film, and we see her as a trustworthy and dedicated wife who, left alone in an ominous land, is flashing back to events of the past to provide a better understanding of her present situation. Attacked by wolves and a bizarre black smoke, she has taken to sleeping with her shotgun clutched in her arms for protection. Gerard’s performance is necessarily subtle as she portrays a woman who is beholden to her husband and their homestead, kindly, and trying (a bit begrudgingly) to help out the neighbors, and yet who has troubles of her own. Thanks to Gerard’s subtleties on screen, the story’s twists are all that more shocking and, ultimately, the tale is heavily open to interpretation.
The Wind is, in fact, a story about its female characters, with the men — Zukerman’s Isaac and McTee’s Gideon — merely existing in the background. Thus, in her supporting but equally important role, Telles’ Emma brings something new to the prairie that alters the course of Lizzy’s life. The two women feed off one another in their on-screen interactions, with Gerard’s guarded Lizzy as more the experienced elder sister type, and Telles’ Emma as the curious younger woman who is not entirely settled in such a quiet life.
With an amazingly chilling original score by Ben Lovett (The Ritual 2017, I Trapped the Devil 2019) and exceptional cinematography from Lyn Moncrief (Sway 2014, The Scent of Rain & Lightning 2017), The Wind does a lot with very little. An instance where the cast and crew are firing on all cylinders and working with a truly original screenplay, this is a film that is likely to find a multitude of interpretations from its viewers. Some will enjoy the jump-scares and relish in the film’s Supernatural Horror elements, while others will enjoy the psychological element at play and appreciate the subtle twists and turns throughout the darkness.
Ultimately, on the wide open prairie, the wind howls and rolls and everything is not exactly as it might initially seem. Thus, when she’s merely a flickering of light in the middle of nowhere, a woman must fight to keep her wits about her. A beautiful balance of eloquent storytelling and hauntingly creepy moments, there’s a menace throughout the entirety of The Wind that makes it a fully enjoyable watch no matter your ultimate take-away from its tale. A truly exceptional debut for Director Emma Tammi, Cryptic Rock give The Wind 4 of 5 stars.