While not the most prolific of sub-genres, horror films set in the old west are reasonably common. Most take advantage of the stereotypes of well armed cowboys and pit them against conventional monsters or the occasional Native American curse. In The Wind, writer Teresa Sutherland and director Emma Tammi go in a different direction. Loneliness and isolation are the true horrors here, with a side order of madness or possibly actual supernatural events.
Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard, Insidious: The Last Key ) and Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) have lived on the frontier for years. They’re experienced farmers and used to being self-reliant. When Emma (Julia Goldani Telles, Slender Man) and her husband Gideon (Dylan McTee, Midnighters) settle in nearby they try to help the couple who are obviously in over their heads.
When it all ends tragically, Lizzy is left alone for a few days. She begins to wonder if the constant wind isn’t a sign of an evil presence.
The Wind starts on a grim note with a stillborn child, lots of blood and a double funeral all in the first few minutes. From there a lot of the story is told in flashbacks inter-cut with current events. A lot of the plot revolves around Emma’s problems adjusting to the move from city life to the frontier and her growing belief that something evil stalks the night. Is she right, or is she slowly going mad from the isolation and rigors of her new life?
Like any film based around flashbacks, The Wind loses something since you know at least part of the ending. That’s negated somewhat since although we know how Lizzy’s story ends that’s not the film’s whole story. And watching the two stories develop in tandem we see the interesting similarities, and differences, develop.
Using excellent sound design and a score based around period instruments The Wind builds tension with a minimum of dialogue. This is in part by necessity since Lizzy is alone for a good part of the film. Even when there are multiple characters on screen the dialogue can be quite sparse though. Much more is conveyed with looks and expressions than with words at many points in the film.
A slow burn that will divide audiences as to whether or not the supernatural is involved, The Wind is an exercise in quiet horror. It requires attention, because of the plot’s subtleties and its non-linear structure. But those don’t mind that will be well rewarded.
IFC Midnight will release The Wind in limited theaters and on VOD April 5, 2019.