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EIFF 2019: The Wind (2018) directed by Emma Tammi

N.B. This film is not on general release in the UK at present. It is showing at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Friday 28th June 2019.

A haunted prairie

This horror-western features Caitlin Gerard as Lizzy Macklin, a tough and resourceful woman who lives in a prairie homestead with her husband Isaac (Ashley Zukerman). While they are in the process of grieving the loss of their son during childbirth, a younger couple - Gideon Harper (Dylan McTee) and his meekly submissive wife Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) - moves in nearby.

One evening, Gideon frantically knocks on their door to explain that Emma has suddenly lost her mind and to ask them for help in calming her down. Lizzy enters their home and finds Emma cowering under her bed. She discovers that the latter, who has fallen pregnant, fears that some mysterious creature is out to get her. After subduing her neighbour with chloroform, Lizzy starts to recall a number of unexplained events that occurred during her own pregnancy.

Watch a trailer:

Visually potent but weak in narrative

If there’s one thing that you can say about The Wind, it’s that it is impressively potent from a visual standpoint. From the painterly landscape shots of the expansive and appropriately wind-swept prairie setting to the atmospherically fire-lit wood cabin interiors, the film weaves a richly authentic setting for the viewer to drink in. Unfortunately, director Emma Tammi fares markedly less well when it comes to handling narrative and characters.

The Wind (2018)

It adopts a non-linear approach similar to that in Manchester by the Sea (2016), with scenes flashing back and forth through time seemingly at random and without any obvious visual signifiers. Here, however, it’s hard to escape the feeling that this jumbled approach operates as nothing more than a device to conceal a very slight and ultimately predictable story. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the characters were just a little more interesting. As it is, both of the husbands feel blandly interchangeable, while Emma comes across as being rather daft and childlike. The only remotely well-rounded characterisation here is that of Lizzy. Even she, however, feels cold and distant until we get at least halfway through the runtime.

The shame is that there is the germ of an intriguing feminist idea here, whereby women - who were traditionally subservient to their husbands during this period in history - can see demons which men can’t but are unable to assert their views because of their position within that gender hierarchy. Unfortunately, with the exception of the remarkably atmospheric setting, nowhere near enough has been built around this.

Runtime: 87 mins

Dir: Emma Tammi

Script: Teresa Sutherland

Starring: Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles, Ashley Zukerman, Dylan McTee, Miles Anderson

Rating: ☆☆1/2

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