The Wind (2019) – movie review

Courtesy of IFC Midnight

The latest addition to IFC Midnight’s horror catalogue is The Wind, a crossover between western and horror that I have been meaning to watch for a while, although it came out on VOD only on April 5. In fact, I contacted the production company multiple time to get an early screening of The Wind… alas, I had to rent as I got no replies from them.

This is one of those movies where you’d better go in knowing as little as possible about the plot, hence why this review will be spoiler-free up to my final grade; after that, you’ll find a spoiler discussion which I advise not to read unless you’ve already seen the film.

In short, The Wind follows two married couples (Elisabeth and Isaac; Emma and Gideon) who live in isolation in the prairie, at the beginning of the 1800s. Are they really alone there or is there, perhaps, an evil entity messing up with them and especially with Elisabeth?

Written by Teresa Sutherland and directed by Emma Tammi, The Wind can be described as a slow-burning psychological thriller that will have you guessing what’s going on beneath the surface. In fact, the story is told through a nonlinear narrative that jumps back and forth between various moments in the past and the present.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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This very storytelling shows how solid and well-written the script is: there’s no lazy and distracting exposition to be found (kind of), which means The Wind demands the viewer’s full attention and commitment. Something most horror movies completely ignore or simply aren’t able to pull off.

Don’t worry, though, because the purposeful editing helps immensely to understand what’s going on and, if the viewer plays close attention, makes the different timelines come together with no plot holes or inconsistencies whatsoever. The solid script is, in fact, backed up by Tammi’s impressive directing: the editing implements the narrative, the simple cinematography makes the audience fully experience everything that’s in the frame, so that no details go missing.

The Wind also nails the look and atmosphere of a modern western film. The grainy and washed out colours transport you back in the days, while the camera-work resembles those long establishing shots that spaghetti westerns were so fond of. Yet, costumes and locations are fantastic, as they never let you out of the immersive experience: you never feel like you’re watching a film set. This movie also uses a slightly changed version of the aspect ratio utilised in western movies, which subconsciously helps creating that western feel. Finally, the music is very fitting, albeit quite similar to the score in Brimstone, my favourite horror film from 2016 (check it out!).

Although The Wind isn’t scary in any traditional sense, it manages to be quite atmospheric and to climatically build tension throughout the 86-minute-long runtime. The fantastic opening scene and the third act, in particular, are extremely tense despite the lack of brutal violence or cheap techniques to have to viewer jump.

The overall film also works due to solid performances, which are good enough for the most part. Caitlin Gerard (Elisabeth) and Julia Goldani Telles (Emma) are particularly dedicated to their role, which makes their performance all the more effective and believable.

However, the actor who played Gideon has a very distracting line delivery: whether it’s the directing or just his performance, he was the weakest character in this contained movie.

Speaking of flaws, The Wind has a couple of pacing issues when it transits from one act to the other where the movie gets to a halt.

Finally, there are two rather obvious continuity errors: one occurs towards the end, therefore I’m not going to explain it. The other one happens early on, at the 11.28-minute time mark: Elisabeth is attacked by wolves and it’s daytime, the sun is up (it might be around midday). To get away from them, she takes shelter in her cabin and shoots them through the door. Immediately she peeps through the hole in the door caused by the bullet and it’s clearly dusk.

Aside from these minor issues/mistakes, The Wind is truly a great watch for fans of atmospheric psychological horror movies and slow-burners. Bear in mind that, at the moment I’m writing this review, most critics seem to appreciate the movie whereas fans are split. If what you read sounds good, though, you shouldn’t miss The Wind. I’ll see you (or not) after my final grade for the spoiler-filled paragraphs.

The Wind                                7.5/10



The ending – As the story develops throughout the runtime, we learn that we see the events from Elisabeth’s perspective. During the second act, we learn that she probably killed Emma after she got pregnant with – allegedly – Elisabeth’s husband, although we already knew from the opening scene that Emma was dead. Throughout the movie, Elisabeth thinks she sees something evil out there in the prairie: after Emma dies, Elisabeth’s sense of guilt makes her see the ghost of Emma as the demon that’s hunting the prairie.

During the third and final act, Elisabeth also kills an errand priest and, finally, her husband: she’s convinced that the demon possessed both of them, therefore she had no choice but to shoot them both. While all of that is happening in the main storyline, however, Elisabeth keeps remembering of her first days in the prairie: she met the same priest who she then killed – and he told her a few sentences that she repeated to her husband at the end of the movie – and she received a bible and a card that, in the main storyline, she actually discovers out of the blue.

Finally, the second to last shot of the movie shows a double bed in the middle of the prairie: Elisabeth is sitting there, crying and empty-handed: she’s remembering an exchange with her husband. E: “There’s something out there”. I: “There’s nothing out there… your mind is looking for things to worry about, first baby and all. It’s just you and me”. After these lines, the movie ends with Elisabeth sitting in the same position on the ground, the bed is gone.

Putting all of this together – and loads of clues spread over the course of the film – to me it’s rather clear that everything happened in Elisabeth’s mind. Similarly to the foremost meaning of The Witch, this film explores what happens to a fragile and scared person in extreme isolation: the mind wonders, every silly sentence somebody told you can became cause for concern. Elisabeth’s descent into madness is, in my opinion, also intertwined with the religious element: the more she loses her faith, the more she dives into dark places and sees “demons”. Hence why it’s important to take a look at the biblical references in the movie.

Biblical references – I grew up in Italy, a strongly Catholic country. Although I’m not a very spiritual person nowadays, the influence of religion was strong in my upbringing, which is probably why I immediately connected the biblical references in The Wind.

The title represents the first clue. In the Bible, there are 56 verses about wind. To me, the most fitting in this case is John 3:8, where the wind is compared to spirits: “Like the wind, spirit is invisible. A person cannot see it move or work. However, one can see the effect of what the Spirit does. One can see how it acts on things, just as the wind going through a tree full of leaves. One cannot see the wind, but everyone has seen how it makes the tree’s leaves and the branches sway. Some have perhaps witnessed a strong wind knock a nest out of a tree or rip leaves or branches off a tree, but not the wind itself. It is the same with the Spirit. The Spirit moves, and we then can see people react. The people do things. A work gets done. What we see is not the Spirit itself, but the Spirit’s fruit”.

And in the movie’s context, the Spirit’s fruit is Elisabeth’s imagination. She sees consequences as though they were caused by an evil entity where, in fact, it was her imagination causing her to do harm.

Another connection between The Wind and the Bible is the characters’ names: Elisabeth is protector of pregnant women (both the Elisabeth of the movie and Emma are pregnant); Isaac is the person who seeks a new life (like the character in the movie) but it too weak to accomplish that. Emma isn’t a biblical name, though: in fact, her character feels out of place in the movie, because she doesn’t share any traits with the others.

Finally, characters in The Wind quote the Bible a few times: I don’t exactly know what verses, but this repeating the Old and New Testament seems to be reinforcing the idea of a deeper religious meaning of the movie. Whether this meaning tends to be in favour of religion or not, it’s up to you to decide.

Also, feel free to correct me if I said something wrong in these last paragraphs: as I said, I’m not an expert nor a spiritual person, thus I might have missed or misinterpreted a few details.

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