The Wind finds terror in the simplest, and harshest, place — the unforgiving, uninhabited prairie. A precise date isn’t given, but based on clues, it is set somewhere in the American west in the mid-to-late 1800s. A young couple is homesteading in a simple cabin. A well and a small farmyard with a few chickens and a goat are all they have.
The film is told from Lizzie’s (Caitlin Gerard) point-of-view, a stalwart pioneer who never displays any uselessness. At the top, she is left at the homestead alone while her husband Issac (Ashley Zukerman) goes to town for a “couple of days.” The narrative timeline jumps between this main story and the events that have led to this point. While it does require the viewer to pay attention, it is not confusing or difficult to follow. So many details, my favorite being Lizzie’s hair, are markers for the audience.
As she tries to ignore a growing dread, the relentless prairie wind slides through the cracks in the paneled door and between the cabin’s logs. It drifts down the stone chimney and slides underneath the homemade quilts. Lizzie begins to see and hear intruders, but are they prowling wolves or something supernatural? Lizzie also recalls the days when another couple (Julia Goldani Telles and Dylan McTee) moves into a cabin a mile away and the strange events that follow those “neighbors.”
As Lizzie becomes more convinced of an evil presence, the timeline becomes more scattered and fragments but serves the storytelling well. The film never descends into cheap horror tropes or jump scares.
Lizzie loses her grip and the audience must decide what is real and what is a chloroform-induced hallucination, or if there really is a demon out to destroy the homesteaders attempting to tame their wild outposts.
The film is stunning to look at. Beautiful location cinematography serves to highlight the stunning landscape as well as the stark desolation of the area. The audience feels for the characters who try to stave off loneliness — and death — everyday. In this way The Wind also offers a small but convincing portrait of pioneer life. The enormous difficulty of the task was daunting enough. Once can see how truly frightening it would be to live on the edge of nowhere, with only a few matches between yourself and freezing to death, or a jar of canned tomatoes and starvation. There would be no one to hear you scream for help, no one to even notice your absence. Regardless of spirits roaming the prairie, it is the emptiness of the wind that is the real horror.
Director: Emma Tammi
Writer: Teresa Sutherland
Cinematography: Lyn Moncrief
Rated R – 86 mins
Rent from DVD Netflix