Say what you will about ghosts and demons, but living out on the frontier by yourself as they do in The Wind still really doesn’t sound all too bad to me.
From first-time director Emma Tammi and writer Teresa Sutherland, The Wind reunites audiences with the western horror genre — a type of film that doesn’t get made nearly as often as it should.
Just for the record, Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter is easily the crux of that genre that every other western horror should aspire to be. You might go into that one expecting a typical Eastwood drama, but it’s really anything but.
The Wind stars Caitlin Gerard and Ashley Zukerman as Lizzy and Isaac Macklin — a young couple who has moved out to the middle of the American frontier to start a new life.
That was the initial thought, at least. Set in the 19th century, both Lizzy and Isaac figure they’ll head out west sooner rather than later so that they can be apart of the giant movement that’s sure to follow.
Maybe they left too early or maybe they picked a bad spot but, either way, Lizzy and Isaac soon learn that the movement they expected never really does come.
Instead, they’re stuck out there in the middle of nowhere by themselves for seemingly forever — which, I’ll say right now, is a great premise for a horror movie, which is why I found myself rooting for The Wind to succeed.
To be fair, they aren’t completely alone for the entire time. There was an incident with a baby a few years back, but neither Lizzy nor Isaac really cares to talk or dwell on the memory of their now deceased son.
At long last, the two of them do eventually find themselves in the company of other human beings as another couple — Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) and Gideon Harper (Dylan McTee) — make their way to the same patch of land.
While both Emma and Gideon are both a lot less experienced at this kind of living, they do both eventually settle down and, like Lizzy and Isaac, soon find themselves expecting a baby.
That’s sadly not where the similarities stop, though.
As happened before, tragedy strikes Emma and Gideon hard and fast as their baby is taken from them without any warning (not a spoiler; it’s literally the opening scene of the movie — a great opening scene at that, as it’s almost completely silent in an A Quiet Place kind of way for the majority of that moment).
This time, Lizzy isn’t convinced that it isn’t fate, coincidence or what have you that’s causing all this misfortune. Instead, she’s convinced that there’s some kind of evil force that’s living out in the fields and slowly stalking all of them.
The more she convinces herself of this idea, the more often she starts to see unexplainable things, too. It starts off gradual — just a shadow off in the distance or something like that — but then continues to increase more and more as time goes on.
By and large, the western genre is one that remains pretty unexplored, for the most part. You have your Bone Tomahawk and your Near Dark, but we’re at the point where we’re lucky if we get one or two of these movies a year.
The Wind is quick to capitalize on that idea with promises of a horror movie the likes of which we’ve never seen before — the problem being that we have seen a lot of this before and, worse yet, it’s not exactly hard to see where it’s going.
That being said, The Wind isn’t a bad movie, strictly speaking. It’s even slower paced than the trailer implies it is, but Tammi is meticulous in creating atmosphere and tension.
The central point of this movie, too, is pretty clever in a general kind of sense. A lot of the creepy bits that we see aren’t necessarily to be taken completely literally. Maybe this frontier really is haunted by some kind of evil demon creature, or maybe Lizzy is just becoming delusional because of grief and isolation. For a long time, The Wind kind of walks the line in a Hereditary kind of way in which the scares (which, admittedly, are still pretty light in this particular film) also serve as a metaphor for something deeper.
Thing is, The Wind just isn’t as compelling as Hereditary, it isn’t as puzzling as High Plains Drifter and it isn’t as gut-punching as Bone Tomahawk.
It’s really just kind of meandering from start to finish.
A slower paced film, of course, isn’t an inherently a bad thing, but it doesn’t do The Wind any favors when we can figure out where this movie is headed pretty early on. The film operates in a unilinear kind of way as the story jumps from place to place. That’s pretty intriguing at first as the audience is thrown into the middle of things and told to figure it all out, but it doesn’t take long for that to wear off. Before we even hit the halfway point, it’s not hard to tell where this thing is going, and it doesn’t take a particularly interesting way to get there.
Granted, I do think that Gerard gives a pretty good job through all of this. Maybe it isn’t the kind of career-defining performance that a different actress could have made it, but it’s a whole lot more impressive and memorable compared to her part in Insidious: The Last Key.
I also like the overall cinematography and feel to the film. Again, still kind of pales in comparison when putting this up against something like The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but it still works on its own merits.
The Wind is a perfectly fine thriller that, when it’s at its best, pays tribute to some creepy themes and thought-provoking subject matter (even if a lot of those plot points are often painted in really general strokes). At it’s worst, it’s just a forgettable western — which isn’t the worst thing in the world to be, but I am pretty sure you’re going to have to remind me that I saw this movie within a couple of months. IFC Midnight is going for top prize here by trying to create their very own The Witch, but really wind up making something that’s a lot more on brand with Pyewacket.
But, hey, at least it isn’t Pledge.
Watch the trailer for The Wind here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!
'The Wind' - Western horror finally resurfaces [REVIEW]6