Terror on the Plains in ‘The Wind’

by Christian Ramos on April 4, 2019

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor Rock Fist Up] 

I feel as if it’s been said so often with every new horror film that’s released, but truly we are in a new age of horror that is more than just a killer in a hockey mask going after sex-crazed teenagers.

This new age taps into the more cerebral part of our minds, the part of us that hides our deepest fears of the unknown parts of the universe and the fear of the dark, an age old terror. Horror these days is also often at its best when it can cross over easily into another genre, in the case of The Wind, a horror western opening tomorrow at Screenland Crossroads.

This new film from director Emma Tammi tells of Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard) and her sense of isolation alongside her husband and some new neighbors in an undeveloped piece of prairie territory. It is a slow burn of a film, but one that offers some gratifying chills along the way.

Lizzy alongside her husband Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) live on the isolated prairie. They describe it simply as undeveloped and a godless country. Nearby, their new neighbors Gideon (Dylan McTee) and Emma Harper (Julia Goldani Telles) join the Macklins for dinner, meeting really the only other people out in the vast area. Things don’t even start out normally unfortunately, as later on Lizzy discovers Emma is pregnant. Lizzy and Isaac lost their only son at birth, and now, taking care of Emma is Lizzy’s main priority to at least be close to new life.

The pregnancy is rough and Emma lashes out numerous times screaming in pain. Suddenly, we flash forward and Emma is no more. Was it suicide or something more? Something more sinister perhaps. Now alone once more while her husbands works, Lizzy feels uneasy both day and night that something is outside her house. Her sheep are slaughtered constantly and at night, a pounding at her door leaves her praying to whatever God will here her. Even the local reverend (Miles Anderson) cannot be trusted. Lizzy slowly uncovers a sinister secret that Emma beheld form her, as the “demons of the prairie” slowly creep inside the Macklin’s own abode.

This is a very good film. Often times when a film is described as “slow,” it’s actually telling the truth where you think nothing happens at all the first hour, and then things progress near the end. The Wind however is different. The pacing may be slow, yes, but it never feels that way as something is constantly happening. Told in a non-linear way, going back and forth between past and present to peel back layers to Lizzy’s own feeling of isolation is a great technique to make this a lot more sinister than I thought possible.

Also the common theme that keeps coming up is isolationism. The Macklins are alone out here in the wilderness and in the so called “godless country” they inhabit, they need all the prayers they can get for whatever is lurking outside. Set in the days of covered wagons where a candle was the only source of light, even the fear of the dark is elevated tenfold.

With its skillful and creative storytelling of a supposedly simple tale, The Wind holds a lot of merit. It’s a good way to spend a few hours, and although it feels small-scale and is set in such a remote region, its execution more than makes up for a lack of location budget and it becomes a more deeply satisfying horror film, knowing anything could be out there in the wide-open world outside. The next time you travel through the great plains of the United States in the dark, perhaps after seeing The Wind, you’ll think about what could be out there waiting to take over.

Christian Ramos is a recent graduate of KU with a B.A. in Film & Media Studies. When he’s not watching movies, he likes to brag about the pointless Oscar trivia he knows, remembers that time he dressed as Steven Spielberg for Halloween and shows off his tweet that Julianne Moore liked.

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