A spooky new film is blowing into the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness lineup. Aptly titled The Wind, the trailer for this Western-themed thriller is seriously chilling to behold. The film’s story follows a plainswoman’s rapid descent into madness in the face of the harsh landscape and isolation of the frontier. The Wind is the first dramatic film of documentarian Emma Tammi (Election Day: Lens Across America) and stars Caitlin Gerard (The Social Network) as the shotgun-wielding woman of the hour in the 1800s-set film.
TIFF Midnight Madness screens 10 genre films each evening of the festival (at midnight, of course), from both established and on-the-rise filmmakers like Tammi. The Wind joins the likes of tentpole features The Predator and Halloween at this year’s event, for instance. Watch the full trailer for The Wind below:
“I don’t expect God has much business out here”
The hair-raising trailer shows Gerard’s character Lizzy being apparently left for periods of time by her husband — clearly, she is extremely disenchanted, even unsettled, by her lonely home out on the frontier. She goes through the motions of tending house, all the while staring blankly out at the landscape. We get a lingering shot of a book, implied to have been browsed through in immense boredom, with the title “Demons of the Prairie.” This is one of the many moments The Wind‘s trailer makes us second-guess whether or not this is a run of the mill thriller or if there’s something much more supernatural at work.
Little by little, Lizzy is driven mad by a stormy combination of new neighbors, her isolation, and of course the ceaseless wind. And, apparently, the vicious wolves popping in from time to time aren’t helping the situation. It’s obvious The Wind is not your typical the-elements-are-out-of-control film. Every character seems to emphasize the fact that the wind never seems to stop and even plays tricks on your mind.
A warning about never answering the door after dark appears to come from one of the new arrivals on the prairie, bringing up a new question: Who do they fear? Are they warning against the evil-feeling wind or instead Lizzy’s increasing insanity? The antagonist of The Wind becomes more uncertain as the trailer progresses, as instinctively we want (and expect, by the title) for there to be malicious beings in the wind. Yet the obstacle of a locked door is a very human restriction. Now the audience looks to Gerard and her character’s unnerving behavior as a threat. No answers are immediately given, which is a blessing for a film that likely has many a surprise in store for audiences.
The Wind‘s trailer starts out more grounded in a traditional thriller, setting up ambiguous threats. By the middle, you are suspicious of its human inhabitants. However, the very last moments show someone being blown off their feet by the wind, which has shattered the windows of the house. Though there could be natural explanations for this, it feels very unnatural. The scene makes it obvious there are some supernatural elements at play in The Wind, along with the psychological.
What makes this film stand out besides its chill-factor is the up-and-coming female director and writer (Teresa Sutherland) duo that brought the project to life. The genre could use a good deal more women behind the camera. As films like The Babadook and Winter’s Bone show, there is something very distinct and raw about the way female directors craft thrillers surrounding women and girls. The woman-dominated cast is equally as important, of course, particularly as they are figures of strength in a horror/thriller film rather than being presented as victims throughout.
Alongside Gerard, The Wind stars Ashley Zukerman (Manhattan), Julia Goldani Telles (The Affair), Miles Anderson, and Dylan McTee. It is set to debut at TIFF on September 10th, so if you’re able to attend make sure to give this unique-looking film a watch.