Loneliness can be killer. Living in a world of both physical and mental isolation can cause a whirlwind of despair and madness. The latest horror film The Wind is a well-orchestrated demonstration of the severe toll isolation takes. While the film may have a rather confusing start, as it progresses, it becomes an effective exercise in psychological terror. In addition, it proves that director Emma Tammi who makes her solo feature-film debut has a distinctive filmmaking voice.
When Lizzie (Caitlin Gerard) is left alone in her cabin while her husband (Ashley Zukerman) runs some errands, she becomes haunted by possible demons from her past. As she starts to psychologically unravel, the film flashes back to when a couple named Gideon and Emma (Dylan McTee and Julia Goldani Telles) were her neighbors. However, since Emma mysteriously committed suicide which resulted in the death of her newborn baby, Lizzie has become rattled by this incident.
The time jumps are when things can get confusing. But the luminous cinematography by Lyn Moncrief still manages to indicate where the film is in time. The present day sequences are shot in the bright sunset while in the past scenes, the time of day seems to vary. Also, as the camera lingers on Lizzie’s petrified face, the sound of winds blowing in the background adds to the unsettling atmosphere. It’s made clear that the only sound they can hear in the wilderness is the wind. So, the bleak looking and nearly soundless setting helps generate fear during the scenes where Lizzie isn’t being haunted by mysterious entities.
The concept of “Is this person going crazy or not?” may be something that has been done before. But because of the film’s non-linear structure and how its present day scenes take place over the course of one evening, Emma Tammi is still able to make it feel distinctive. Also, leading actress Caitlin Gerard crafts together an interesting anti-hero. Typically, female protagonists in a horror film who are in peril are presented as completely sympathetic. But Gerard still plays a frontier woman of sheer mystery. Another standout is Julia Golden Telles as Emma, Lizzie’s former neighbor who may have been fighting for the affections of her husband.
At a tightened 86 minutes, The Wind is a perfectly paced and effective atmospheric thrill ride. As previously mentioned, it may handle a story that has been demonstrated from time to time. However, Emma Tammi still tries new things with it. By portraying a woman having a mental breakdown while letting the setting capture the feeling of physical isolation, Tammi creates a never ending feeling of unsettlement. One has to wonder what she has next in store.