The Wind (2018)
★★★ / ★★★★
Western horror picture “The Wind” tells the story of a woman (Caitlin Gerard) who claims there is something sinister on the remote land that she and her husband (Ashley Zuckerman) have moved onto, but he does not believe her, consistently dismissing her concerns as mere superstitions. When another couple, Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) and Gideon (Dylan McTee), move into a cabin about a mile away, the supernatural presence appears to intensify, especially when Emma becomes pregnant.
Told with elegance, class, and patience, the film, directed by Emma Tammi and written by Teresa Sutherland, reveals its secrets like an engaging horror novel. It tasks the viewers to juggle details of two timelines: before and after Emma’s death, while pregnant, due to a gunshot wound to the head. The former is utilized to lay out the foundations of the four characters’ relationships and the latter is used to question and challenge the validity of Lizzy’s claims. Is there a psychological explanation to the increasingly bizarre occurrences or is there truly a supernatural presence that haunts Lizzy’s every waking hour?
The picture commands the most power when it relies on sounds or images to bring about goosebumps. Particularly creepy is how the isolation of these characters’ lifestyles are conveyed. At night, Lizzy and Isaac are able to see Emma and Gideon’s cabin only when there is fire inside their home. In between the two cabins is near-total darkness. Appropriately, the contrast between light and dark is employed to create eerie shadows: moving through a window, slithering on the ceiling, remaining still right next to a person’s bed while she sleeps. I admired its old-school approach to create heart-pounding situations. I believed that I was experiencing a specific story set in nineteenth-century American frontier because of the simplicity of its approach.
Less intriguing is how the new couple is portrayed. Hailing from the city, it is expected they do not know a lot about planting crops or maintaining a cabin in preparation for winter. There is supposed to be a sort of friendship that has developed between the couples during the flashbacks, but this is not convincing. When two characters converse, particularly the women, it is difficult to buy into their connection—a real friendship, a neighborly courtesy, or a test of tolerance. As for the two men, it is noticeable that they barely say twenty words to one another throughout the film. Perhaps words is not the point since it is not the picture’s strength, but at the very least Lizzy and Emma’s interactions must command believability and heft.
Another weakness is the final three to five minutes. I think these closing sequences, particularly the final shot, is meant to be open to interpretation, but—to me—the answers are clear enough to warrant a solid conclusion of what really happened. Shots of our heroine looking distant, disheveled, and drained of energy do not fit the central idea that Lizzy is a character worth following and rooting for since she is strong, resourceful, and knows how to think for herself. There are undeniable feminist ideas coursing through its veins. And so it comes across as a cheap way to end an otherwise terrific, slow-burn entertainment.