Starring Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles, Ashley Zukerman, Dylan McTee, Miles Anderson
What could be more unusual than a horror film written and directed by women? Even more unusual is that it’s a western and, as horror films go, it’s actually good. It’s a shame to have to still acknowledge that both genres are typically dominated by male filmmakers. “The Wind” is a small film that packs a powerful punch with a stirring turn from Caitlin Gerard. Both director Emma Tammi and screenwriter Teresa Sutherland are making their feature film debuts. The film piques your interest from the very beginning, with a woman covered in blood. The editing style of “The Wind” is unique, each cut challenging the audience to figure out whether you are in the recent past, the distant past, or the present. Period piece genre films always feel scary, and this one takes us farther back in time than most.
“This place is wrong. We are not supposed to be here,” Emma Harper (Telles) says, after recently relocating to the western prairie that’s completely isolated. She of course is preaching to the choir telling Lizzy Macklin (Gerard) who has been out here far longer. Both women were warned about “Demons of the Prairie” by a local reverend from a neighboring town. Isolation and loneliness can play tricks on the mind, or is it something more? Lizzy and her husband Isaac lost a child after settling here, but since The Harper’s have moved a mile away, they are thankful for Emma’s company. Emma’s mental state comes into question when she becomes pregnant and convinces herself that something outside is coming for her.
Sure some of the general horror genre movie tactics are used to get a rise out of the audience, but the clever use of the setting and time period make this stand apart from usual fare.
“The Wind” is like Little House on the Prairie, but with demons! The editing and sound effects provide much of the jump-scares. Tammi jolts the viewer’s focus back to the screen every time one scene transitions to another. Tammi’s technique is similar to that of classical composers who would alter the tempo when they felt the audience was being lulled to sleep. Sutherland’s script takes a look at rural isolation and how it affects a family and a young woman in the mid-1800s. Though the desperation of being hopeless and not having a choice for any other life or situation and then all of a sudden a neighbor (or an alternative) arrives. There is much more to be fleshed out with Lizzy’s character, but, this is a horror movie, and that’s where the focus lies.
I like the general idea of exploring the paranoia settlers must have faced so from civilization. Gerard (“Insidious: The Last Key“) does a good job on screen for long periods by herself. Conveying both strength when there are literally wolves at the door, and fright, when things happen beyond her capacity to cope. “The Wind’s” real impact is how terrifying the film is allowed to become. Sure some of the general horror genre movie tactics are used to get a rise out of the audience, but the clever use of the setting and time period make this stand apart from usual fare. It’s a great start for Tammi and Sutherland, who I hope will continue to think outside of the box on whatever project they pursue next.
"The Wind" is Little House on the Prairie meet’s “Hereditary," and the result is terrifying.