(This review has some spoilers)
Horror’s greatest monster is isolation. Loneliness is a major factor for our everyday troubles. A quiet solo night-in causes your brain to conjure vivid monsters and utmost bloodshed without much hesitation. Prolonged absence and ostracised from society feeds into the nightmares. Every shadow turns into a ghoul. Every noise is a hideous beast. Every beat of your heart doused in absolute dread.
Lizzy, our prairie woman, is tormented by these very thoughts in Emma Tammi’s directorial debut The Wind.
The film is set in 1800s Western America and revolves around Lizzy, building a life and a home in the wide, terrifying plains with her husband Isaac. When a younger and naïve couple, Emma and Gideon, move into a cabin nearby, Lizzy and Isaac are determined to help them start maintaining their land. However, when tragedy strikes, Lizzy is left alone and has to protect herself and her home from a force stalking the land. Or, perhaps something more sinister is happening…
The debut feature from Tammi is perhaps one of the most beautifully shot indie horror movies of recent years. With just a modest budget of $30,000, Tammi and cinematographer Lyn Moncrief utilise the natural colours and aches of untarnished land. The abandon is shown in striking colours. Purples and blues play backdrop to barren trees and viciously bare grass. Era clad people with deeper and darker colours are silhouetted against the light yellows of a stark sky. Darkness is illuminated by a solitary candle. This is an exquisitely filmed movie where every frame prompted a contented sigh and a “I really love this shot.”
Caitlun Gerard storms the screen as Lizzy. A stern woman of German decent, Lizzy is very much the backbone of her household and watches her three companions – including her husband – with beady attentive eyes. As she claws for survival against the beasts (whether they are imaginary or not, there is no satisfying conclusion,) Gerard interjects this steely heroine with distrust, anguish, fear, and resolve. As the film progresses, you’re faith in fritters away like a candle in…well..in the wind. Gerard says much with a pursed lip and untrusting eye in the wrong direction.
The story skips between flashbacks and the present with ease. A happy tryst with memories and the devil, The Wind juxtaposes the past with Lizzy’s growing fear. True, in the beginning, you may struggle with which moment you are in but as the differences between memories develop, it becomes easier. The biggest problem with The Wind is that as the film progresses, it loses that toe-curling tension it so gloriously built in the first half. Jump-scares evaporate the fright and it becomes somewhat silly. Images of ghosts and demons prove that less is more and focusing on what the monster could be, more so than what it is, is far more horrifying.
Still Tammi reigns it in greatly towards the end. Whilst there is a struggle to truly ground the film, your questioning of Lizzy is the biggest fear. A woman undone in the worst way.
The Wind is about the pendulum swinging between her quaking psyche and possible hideous creatures which prey. Culminating a visceral ending, an image on the tip of psychosis and hell, The Wind is a film that will still howl in you long after.
The Wind showcases at the Frightfest on Friday 23rd August!
Buy tickets now!