Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) is a tough, resourceful frontierswoman settling a remote stretch of land on the 19th-century American frontier. Isolated from civilization in a desolate wilderness where the wind never stops howling, she begins to sense a sinister presence that seems to be borne of the land itself, an overwhelming dread that her husband (Ashley Zukerman) dismisses as superstition. When a newlywed couple arrives on a nearby homestead, their presence amplifies Lizzy’s fears.
Runtime: 86 minutes
Distributed by: IFC Midnight
The period setting of The Wind adds a lot of charm and the added seclusion of the main cast certainly adds towards the horror. It’s not every day that you see this kind of film taking place in the wild west, so it was a breath of fresh air to say the least. The acting was sound all around but lead actress Caitlin Gerard, who played the main character Lizzy, was far and away the standout, especially considering she had to carry much of the film on her performance. The excellent sound design creates a foreboding atmosphere, making any nighttime scene particularly unsettling. The direction from Emma Tammi was well executed, tight, and impressive, filling the film with beautiful shots but also not taking away from the horror when the horror presented itself. The majority of the movie put my brain to work theorizing where the story was heading, while also preparing me for the scares yet to come.
The story itself is quite interesting. A married couple, Lizzy and Isaac, live alone on the frontier when they suddenly find themselves neighbors to Emma and Gideon, a husband and wife that have recently moved in to the house across the way. The relationship between the two couples becomes strained over the course of the film, especially once the wife in the other couple ‘Emma’ starts taking a liking to Isaac. After Isaac leaves on a two-day trip and leaves Lizzy alone to fend for herself, she finds herself being accosted by a demonic presence outside of her home that’s seemingly trying to destroy her. It’s all very tense and unnerving while maintaining a sense of mystery and dread that permeated the film.
Unfortunately one of the biggest issues for me is the narrative structure of the film. It takes place over three different periods of time, and the movie jumps between them far too often which I felt was a distracting choice from the directory. Just as something horrific would be about to happen, it would cut back to another moment in the past showing some conversation or event that happened between the characters. I understand that this was all in service of the story but it just seemed to be a little convoluted. There were a few times where it was just flat out difficult to follow.
The biggest negative in this film is the ending. I have to get into SPOILERS here so if you want to see this film, which I recommend you do, then stop reading now. It’s revealed throughout the film that Lizzy had a child that died during labor. It was an event that understandably broke her heart and even added a little tension into her marriage with Isaac. This is only exacerbated by the arrival of the new neighbors, especially after Emma reveals later on that she’s pregnant. It’s then further revealed that Emma had an affair with Isaac and that he’s the father of her child. All of this backstory and conflict is shown parallel to the time period where the monstrous presence torments Lizzy and there were far too many times where it took away from the impact the horror could have had.
The horror in The Wind started in such a way that I thought that it may be a ghost story. Then for a very brief moment I thought it might be a werewolf movie (which I would not have complained about in the slightest), then I thought that maybe the monster was a Wendigo, the absolutely frightening creature of Algonquin folklore. However the movie eventually presents the idea that maybe there was nothing physical or supernatural antagonizing her at all, but instead it was all in her head. A sort of psychotic break brought on by the loss of her firstborn and also possibly the infidelity of her husband. The film is so incredibly strong in its presentation and delivery that I thought the ambiguous ending was an absolute letdown. I really wish the director had gone with a more straightforward conclusion to leave me with a more concrete resolution but sadly I was left with only questions.
The Wind is a fine horror movie that’s light on the horror yet heavy on atmosphere and drama. It’s a well made tale that tells a compelling story elevated by good performances, a powerful setting and great production value. Ultimately though it falls flat near the end after a splintered narrative structure and an ambiguous ending that, pardon the pun, took all the wind out of my sails.
Final Grade: C
You can follow Cory on his twitter @corytweetsfilm