2019 | rated R | starring Caitlin Gerard | directed by Emma Tammi | 1 hr 26 mins |
I cover a lot of horror movies here because few things are as fun as the truffle pig hunt for gems in the muck. Sometimes, quite often actually, you get the muck. Last week we looked at Body of Brighton Rock, a minimalist survival/horror movie directed by a woman about one woman’s journey to keep her life and sanity against the elements. This week we’re looking at The Wind, a minimalist supernatural western directed by a woman about one woman’s journey to keep her life and sanity against the elements. And it’s a minimalist gem.
As a comparative exercise, The Wind confronts just about every issue that plagued Brighton Rock approach to a small survival story and spins it around to make it work. It is a solid showcase of both what director Emma Tammi (also making a feature debut) can do with a single cabin set and the filmmaking tools to pump the production with a creep factor and the acting of star Caitlin Gerard who, customary for these kind of exhaustive dives through sanity, is in every scene and gets put through the ringer physically and psychologically.
A potential false note here could be Tammi’s choice to chop the film up into non-linear segments and re-assemble it. The move feels on one hand a bit show-offish and mood-breaking and on the other hand quickens the pace and keeps the twists coming. It ultimately comes together well. The film is a western in the re-imagined way that Bone Tomahawk and The Keeping Room are westerns. It is set in the post-Civil War Western expansion of America when pioneers trekked away from cities and set down stakes in single-room cabins they built themselves surrounded by miles and miles of prairie. The delicious little horror spin that Wind and Tomahawk put to this story speculates that something monstrous was out there just waiting to tear apart those that come across it.
Lizzie (Gerard), the wife of pioneer Isaac (Ashley Zuckerman), spends her days working in the yard or cooped up inside their cabin but she might as well be on the surface of the moon. The closest neighbor is several miles away and, we learn from the opening flash-forward, their meeting and subsequently strained friendship will end in blood.
The Wind isn’t going to re-invent the wheel, but it is a well made, unique, little blend of genres we rarely see working together (this well). This isn’t the type of movie that brings in the masses, but when it’s done this well it’s very satisfying. It’s creepy and atmospheric in just the right measure and Tammi knows exactly how far to turn the nobs. A deserving calling card for a talented new filmmaker in Tammi and breakout star Gerard.