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Review: TIFF 2018: ‘The Wind’ blows the house down (Includes first-hand account)

Watching scary movies or reading frightening books when alone at night can lead to your senses and imagination playing tricks to which you may not otherwise pay attention. Suddenly, the slightest noise or shadow takes on a sinister quality that could threaten your safety… even though the rational part of your brain insists there’s nothing skulking in the dark corners of the room waiting for an opportunity to strike. And in the morning it all seems rather silly, but in the moment it couldn’t feel more real. In The Wind, a young woman starts to feel as if she’s surrounded by evil in the remote, uncultivated Midwest.

Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) and Isaac (Ashley Zukerman) have lived in isolation for several years, but they’ve adapted and even learned to cherish their seclusion. Then Gideon (Dylan McTee) and Emma (Julia Goldani Telles) move into an adjacent property and suddenly two becomes four. The new couple is inexperienced and require a lot of guidance, often calling upon their more knowledgeable neighbours for assistance. But this life isn’t for everyone and Emma yearns for the conveniences of the city. It’s not long before her dismay turns to madness, but the greater concern becomes whether the evil she sees is true… or if her psychosis could be contagious.

This movie blends genres by using the landscape of the Western pioneer and the horror of monsters that may still be roaming the untamed lands. The weather presents a significant challenge with heavy storms, and gusting winds that whip unfettered over the flat plains and eerily whistle through the cabin. The nearest town is not near at all so most things must be produced via the land – Isaac even makes his own furniture. Reading is one of the only available pastimes that doesn’t double as a chore, but even that loses its shine and starts to fester unhealthy thoughts after a while – especially when preachers are distributing fearmongering pamphlets about demons.

The film begins as a bit of a mystery with pools of blood that need to be cleaned and gruesome dead bodies. As Lizzy tries to move forward from these traumatizing events in Isaac’s absence, the recent past from which they stemmed is gradually recounted. What becomes increasingly evident is the retelling of Emma’s psychosis is paralleling Lizzy’s own spiral into darkness. It’s then that the movie that began as a calamitous tale of not being built for farm life transforms into a creepy, supernatural story that suggests perhaps there was more to their breakdown than just natural hardships.

The lead actresses are impeccable. Their roles are nearly opposite to each other, but they’re required to perform most of their scenes together and they do an excellent job portraying this relationship of necessity and antagonism. They’re quite convincing in their own right, drawing viewers in for the occasional jump scare and keeping them at the edge of their seat for the entirety of the late-night screening.

The Wind had its world premiere in the Midnight Madness category at the Toronto International Film Festival. Don’t miss the rest of our TIFF 2018 coverage.

Director: Emma Tammi
Starring: Miles Anderson, Caitlin Gerard and Julia Goldani

Written By

Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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