THE WIND (director: Emma Tammi; screenwriter: Teresa Sutherland/novel by Dorothy Scarborough; cinematographer: Lyn Moncrief; editor: Alexandra Amick; music: Ben Lovett; cast: Caitlin Gerard (Lizzy Macklin), Ashley Zukerman (Isaac Macklin), Miles Anderson (The Reverend)Julia Goldani Telles (Emma Harper), Dylan McTee (Gideon Harper), Martin C. Patterson (Eli); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Christophe Alender, David Grove Churchill Viste; IFC Midnight/Soapbox Films; 2018)

"Finely detailed supernatural feminist Western thriller."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Former documentary co-director Emma Tammi's solo feature directorial debut is this finely detailed indie low-budget supernatural feminist Western thriller. The craftsmanship is superb. It's based on Dorothy Scarborough's 1925 novel of the same name, which was used as source material for Lillian Gish's powerful frontier 1925 classic silent. This is an entirely different film, that's cleverly written by Teresa Sutherland. It deals with fighting off loneliness and madness and spiritual demons on the American frontier, making it a Western horror pic that focuses on how a  young pioneer woman, living in an almost bare cabin in isolation, handles isolation.

In the
1800s, on the American Western frontier, Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) lives in an area with no neighbors with her hard working laconic husband Isaac (Ashley Zukerman), sharing with him a lonely life filled with hardships and yearnings to just survive. Things change a bit with the arrival of friendly new neighbors off in the distance, Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) and Gideon (Dylan McTee), something we learn from flashbacks. The neighbors are accepted, but live about a mile away. When Emma becomes frightened by hearing strange whispers in the wind, this brings back Lizzy's previous concerns about how sinister the wind sounds and her battle with Isaac who doesn't feel the same dread she does. When Lizzy delivers Emma's still-born baby, seen in the opening scenes, the horror story kicks in for real.

What ensues is a violence only imagined in nightmares, as the narrative takes a non-linear path and we see how Lizzy goes from the enabler of her hubby to someone losing her mind when her hubby fails to comfort her.

Gerard's wide-ranging emotional performance feeds into the alarming atmosphere created by Tammi's perceptive psychological horror film and gives the film the credence needed to view things from a female perspective.

cinematographer Lyn Moncrief gives us some hypnotic visuals that beautifully capture both the peace and hardship of living in the desolate frontier. While Ben Lovett’s score is scintillating in a chilling horror pic way. The effective set designs courtesy of Courtney Andujar and Hillary Andujar add greatly to how well the film is crafted. Also Juan Campos's unnerving sound designs include those of the wind, screams or doors slammed shut.

The set-up of the dreaded wind and the ethereal evil it contains plays well into this scary film, one that
checks off most of the boxes for what makes a good horror pic. It only wears a bit thin when it can't sustain the tension created and unnecessarily gives us too many shifting moves between present and past. In any case, this above average horror film is not a predictable one and better than most of the big-budget mainstream ones in getting the scares right.

REVIEWED ON 4/1/2019       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"