THE WIND is Emma Tammi’s supernatural Western, a tale of isolation and paranoia. The film stars Miles Anderson, Caitlin Gerard, Julia Golden Telles, Dylan McTee, Martin C. Patterson, and Ashley Zuckerman.
Set in the 1800’s, Lizzie and Issac are a young couple living in isolation on the Western frontier. Caitlin Gerard, who has previously acted in Insidious: The Last Key, gives a nuanced performance as Lizzie. Lizzie enjoys a quiet life during the day, but at night tangles with a strange force that is wreaking havoc in her home. Issac doesn’t understand Lizzie’s fear of “the wind,” telling his wife she’s imagining things. When a new couple, Emma and Gideon, settle nearby, Lizzie and Issac are glad for the company. But soon, Emma begins to experience the prairie’s supernatural elements too.
The film provides a fresh look at the parts of life on the frontier that Westerns often omit—there is a sex scene, a couple in a screaming match, a bloody and emotional birth scene. The plains are harsh and barren, and THE WIND does a good job of making the remoteness seem all-encompassing—after all, no one can hear you scream if the nearest person is miles away.
There is a scene where Lizzie is left alone on the farm for a few days, and the use of the constant wind sounds is chilling. Although she’s capable of fighting back, Lizzie does her chores and tries to ignore her fears. But THE WIND excels at never letting the audience feel safe, even when Lizzie is in daylight, surrounded by farm animals.
The demons are ambiguous, often presenting as lurking shadows and screaming winds. Scary scenes build tension only to quickly cut away before really terrifying the viewer. There is a “Demons of the Prairie” pamphlet which informs Lizzie about the prairie’s many types of evil spirits, but it is underused. Emma is especially sensitive to these spirits—at one point, on the brink of a breakdown, Emma tells Lizzie “It’s coming for me…This place is wrong, we’re not supposed to be here.”
Because the horror elements of the film are ambiguous, it’s possible to read one’s own interpretations into the story. I thought the film was a commentary on how women’s needs and their pain are often dismissed, leaving women to fight their battles alone. Perhaps it’s also a commentary on mental health, or religion, or the nature of societal pressures in a vacuum. The film wants to talk about marriages, motherhood, and jealousy, but for better or worse it never draws hard conclusions. THE WIND’s vagueness means that any of these could be reasonable interpretations.
Despite minor issues (such as the movie’s blood leaving red dye stains on Lizzie’s hands…ugh) I left the theater immediately wanting to watch THE WIND again. I loved the sustained tension and the gritty, realistic terror of confinement. In THE WIND, no one is ever safe from the barren frontier landscape. THE WIND opens in New York and Los Angeles, as well as on VOD, April 5.