Photo: Soap Box Films
Before We Vanish by Sam Thomas-Redfern Film

The Wind | Emma Tammi

May 6, 2019

The Wind marks director Emma Tammi’s first foray into narrative cinema, a step away from her documentarian work and directly into the foreboding wilderness of the horror-western. Already one of the more uncommon examples of the hybrid genre format, screenwriter Teresa Sutherland positions a female homesteader contending with isolation and overwhelming supernatural forces at the fore to construct an idea that strikes as being refreshingly unique. But, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, by the end, The Wind falls victim to the many traps that have become gratingly typical of recent horror cinema. Through its nonlinear narrative structure, plot details are withheld for extra dramatic emphasis, so that a moment of realization can wash over the viewer with an eye-roll and a sigh. This blasé response is the product of seeing something with initial promise trip over itself in an attempt to deliver on a final reel ‘pay-off.’

Instead, what we’re left with is that familiar type of conclusion that feels as though it nullifies much of the film that came before, rather than unpacking or enriching a jumbled series of events. It’s lucky, then, that The Wind features such a vigorous central performance from Caitlin Gerard to help anchor its fragmented and delusory narrative. As the core of the film, Gerard at least serves to effectuate the period-specific thoughts and feelings of life on the open prairie, along with presenting a resolute stance against the (much more real) hardships that sometimes show their face. There, too, are glimpses of something more substantive as regarding the film’s representation of a woman struggling to be believed. Unfortunately, Tammi proves too beholden to her unreliable narrator gambit, a decision which undermines her film’s more compelling aspects. But at a concise 86 minutes, it is a relief to affirm that, despite other troublesome elements, The Wind at least knows better than to overstay its welcome.

Published as part of Before We Vanish | Issue 4.