The Wind is a new Western horror film written by Teresa Sutherland and directed by Emma Tammi. The movie is about a woman in the Old West of the late 1800s who is driven insane by the isolation and harsh conditions in which she lives. It debuted at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
The core premise of the film is relatively generic. This is a relatively run-of-the-mill psychological horror movie in terms of story. The character is in isolation and must determine whether the perceived threat is real or a figment of their imagination. The setting of the Old West isn’t anything particularly new either, as the intense isolation faced by settlers is a common topic of cinematic exploration.
Furthermore, the characters in the film aren’t particularly sympathetic. The protagonist is the only character with whom we spend enough time to let us get attached to her, however, she feels bland and archetypal, so that essential sympathy is not formed. None of the supporting characters are given enough of a personality to be of any impact.
That being said, the movie is presented from a unique perspective that does give it quite a bit of emotional heft. Only the most effective psychological horror films are able to transport you into the mind of the character, and this does a really great job of making you feel alone like she is in the movie. Because of this, even though the character feels generic, her story is still interesting.
In terms of pacing, the film was somewhat uneven. The beginning of the movie drags quite a bit as it tries to establish the mundanity and loneliness of the protagonist’s normal life. That being said, when spooky things start happening (or don’t happen — it’s up to you to decide), the pace picks up significantly and the film almost starts to feel rushed. Had the movie been consistent in one way or the other, it would have been more effective.
The actors in the film are very good, though. The emphasis is firmly placed on the lead Caitlin Gerard’s shoulders, as she does find herself on screen alone so frequently. She does a very good job of being a scream queen, really selling the fear in a way that is somewhat infectious. In the supporting cast, the only real standout is Miles Anderson, who gives a small but effective turn.
On a technical level, the movie is mostly impressive. Apart from a few iffy CGI-based shots, the film looks pretty good. The cinematography and production design both do a very good job of periodizing the movie and building suspense. The way in which the film creates a stark contrast between light and dark is very interesting. Furthermore, the relatively minimal (but very shocking) gore is pretty effective.
Overall, The Wind is a solidly-made but somewhat slow horror movie. If the script had been as interesting as the execution, this could have been one of the best horror films of the year.
The Wind is in theaters and on VOD beginning April 6.