What if you take the American frontier setting from The Witch, the themes of paranoia and isolation from It Comes At Night, but you strip them of everything that makes them great? You’d have something resembling The Wind.
There is nothing worse for a film critic at a festival than being disappointed by a film you expected to be good. Especially when there are some great things in it. Director Emma Tammi and screenwriter Teresa Sutherland do their best to create a mood-setter slow-burn western horror to ride The Witch, Hereditary roller coaster, but poor narrative choices, bad pacing and an underwhelming story make this a carriage ride through the most boring of landscapes.
The opening scene tells you everything you need to know about the film. A group of Old West settlers are hit by a traumatic event. Emma Tammi focuses on their grim expressions, using a cold color palette and a dead baby to show the audiences how brutal and horrific this world is.
Then we go back in time, to some time in the 1800’s, Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) and her husband Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) are a young couple looking to settle in the American frontier. Their house is isolated and there is no one around for hundreds of miles. Until one day another couple arrives to a cabin close to theirs. The Wind tries to be clever by playing with the timelines, teasing a friendship and then a fallout between the two families, while in the present having Lizzy deal with what she feels is a sinister presence visiting her at night and tormenting her.
There are some legitimately good things about the film. The sound design is on point, as every scream, gunshot, slammed door or crooked wooden floor beats your ears to increase the tension. The film’s exploration of how lonely and boring it was during the times is interesting. And the theme of women not being believed about the horrors that lurk in the dark is poignant in these times.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t account for much when the narrative is this bland. The use of flashbacks only serves to confuse the viewer and make you think there is a bigger mystery than there actually is. The glacial pace is used to try and create a tense atmosphere, but it only makes this 86 minute long movie feel over two hours. And the costumes look so bright and new there is no way it is worn by people living in the Old West.
The good elements in The Wind only serve to remind you of the potential for this story, but the final product is just a lesser version of much better films. There’s even a scene with a demonic-looking white goat that almost makes you think it’s going to ask if you’d like to live deliciously.