Review: With a Sensational Portrayal of a Descent into Madness THE WIND Breathes Life Into A Flashback Filled Horror Western
Described as a horror western, The Wind is Director Emma Tammi’s first feature length film. The story is told in a non-linear narrative that transitions between three distinct periods of Lizzie Macklin’s seemingly surreal life. Lizzie is played by Caitlin Gerard, known for Insidious: The Last Key, and for most of the film it is unclear if she is being tormented by a supernatural force that only she can see, or if she is simply descending into madness brought on by the isolation and challenging conditions of living on the Western frontier in the 1800s.
Lizzie’s husband Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) convinces her to relocate from the city to a house on the plains. There is one empty house nearby, but no other people around and Lizzie has a hard time adjusting to the harsh living conditions and the loneliness that comes with her new surroundings. Lizzie begins seeing things and believes a dark presence is following her. To make matters worse, Isaac doesn’t believe her.
The story begins with Lizzie covered in blood, which, by the way, is never a good sign in a horror movie. In flashbacks, we learn that Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) and Gideon Harper (Dylan McTee) moved into the only nearby house and had tried to become friends with Lizzie and Isaac. Because of the unexplained phenomena Lizzie has been experiencing, she doesn’t trust anyone and rejects Emma’s attempts at being friends. In fact, Lizzie is rather hostile towards Emma because she doesn’t trust her and also because Emma seems to have a fascination with Lizzie’s husband Isaac.
The costumes and set design impressively and realistically represent life on the frontier in the 1800s. Caitlin Gerard gives a standout, disturbing performance as the believably afflicted Lizzie. Julia Goldani Telles’s skillful portrayal of Emma as a woman innocently trying to be Lizzie’s friend one minute and then the next minute deviously smiling as she reminisces about seducing Lizzie’s husband, is quite clever. The one thing that unfortunately does not work in this film’s favor is the execution of the scattered timeline. It is left completely up to the audience to figure out that there are three different time periods in the story and also to understand which time period Lizzie is telling the story from for each sequence, and this distracts from the story at times. The confusion created by the constant jumps back and forth in time is lamentable considering that The Wind features such an intriguing plot and fantastic performances from the actors involved.
Miles Anderson plays a sinister Reverend who Lizzie encounters several times in the film and by the end, you are left questioning not just Lizzie’s mental state, but also whether the Reverend, or the demons Lizzie believes are stalking her, even exist. In the opening scene where Lizzie is covered in blood, she claims that Emma committed suicide, but a very different, horrific version of events is revealed as the timeline unfolds. The Wind is a remarkable, captivating, and ultimately terrifying film that features some sensational performances, especially from Caitlin Gerard as Lizzie. Sadly, for me at least, the brilliance of the film is somewhat overshadowed by the unexplained, constant flashbacks and flashforwards in the story.