Documentarian Emma Tammi makes an eerily auspicious feature film directorial debut with the chilling horror Western “The Wind.”
Set in the late 1800s, the spooky script from fellow first-timer Teresa Sutherland centers on Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard, “Insidious: The Last Key”), a practical German immigrant industriously building a life alongside her God-fearing husband Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) on an isolated stretch of the Great Plains.
Lizzy is initially excited when newcomers Emma and Gideon Harper (Julia Goldani Telles and Dylan McTee) set up homestead in a nearby abandoned cabin. But there’s something strange about the new neighbors, and their arrival culminates in a bloody tragedy that opens old wounds and stirs up latent fears for Lizzy. Left alone for a few days with nothing but the marauding wolves, empty prairie and ceaseless wind for company, the frontierswoman is haunted by a shadowy supernatural force – but is there really something sinister out there or is it all in her solitary, disoriented mind?
From the moment she steps out of Lizzy’s rugged cabin in the macabre opening scene, Gerard gives a phenomenal performance as the capable, gun-toting plainswoman whose composure unravels as she deals with death, loneliness and suspicion. And Tammi makes it clear from the harrowing first few moments that “The Wind” will blow Lizzy’s way: Even as she channels iconic imagery from male-dominated classic Westerns, Tammi makes it clear that her psychological thriller is tapping into the sadly under-shared stories of the women who fought just as hard to survive and tame the West as the menfolk who so often left them to their own devices.
Although the nonlinear narrative gets muddled and repetitive, “The Wind” remains incessantly scary, with haunting moments that linger after the credits have rolled.