Stars: Caitin Gerard, Ashley Zukerman, Julia Goldani Telles, Dylan McTee
Writer: Teresa Sutherland
Director: Emma Tammi
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Release Date: April 5, 2019
THE WIND is an effectively creepy and handsome-looking folk horror film, set on the American prairie in the late nineteenth century. It is deliberately paced, beautifully photographed by cinematographer Lyn Moncrief, and makes great, terrifying use of shadows and light. The principal complaint is that it is needlessly disjointed.
Lizzie Macklin (Caitlin Gerard) has been living in an isolated cabin on the plains with her husband Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) for eight years when the main story of THE WIND begins. Lizzie is certain that the house and surrounding land is being stalked by some sort of evil entity, more active by night but not dormant by day. Isaac is unsympathetic to Lizzie’s concerns. One day, the only other cabin in the area – about a mile away – gets two occupants, married couple Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) and Gideon Harper (Dylan McTee). The two are city folk, deeply out of their element. Lizzie and Isaac try to be neighborly and helpful, but Gideon has no idea what he’s doing, and Emma desperately wants to go home. Emma confides to Lizzie that they’re only out here because Gideon is too proud to take work from Emma’s father. Also, Emma is pregnant. She quickly becomes even more convinced than Lizzie that something bad is here.
Director Emma Tammi and writer Teresa Sutherland hint at horror in the opening scenes, then move the story backwards and forwards. They use subtle techniques – a shadow lengthening where it should not be able to do so, objects in places they should not be – for so long that it’s startling when there’s a sequence involving actual stunts.
Lizzie is also a swell, understated character study, as played with firmness and nuance by Gerard. This is a woman who has been hugely put upon, but seldom gives voice to her feelings. She feels obliged to, embarrassed by, and just a little jealous of Emma, who complains whether it’s appropriate or not.
The filmmakers also do a wondrous job of using wide open spaces and the shades of the sky to create a sense of loneliness and vulnerability. There’s no one around to interfere with anything that may happen out here.
However, the frequent jumping back and forth in time proves increasingly unwelcome. Trying to put puzzle pieces together in a film structured in a mystery is one thing. But even though we’re obviously supposed to be wondering if a) something supernatural is afoot, b) Lizzie is going insane, or c) Lizzie is going insane because something supernatural is afoot, we don’t get a mystery resolution. Instead, we’re often distracted by the action we’re seeing as we try to figure out where it fits into what we’ve seen so far, with no narrative benefit.
THE WIND is atmospheric, unique-looking and has moments of real fear. It tries too hard to be a brain-teaser, but it still works as a horror movie.
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Article: Movie Review: THE WIND