THiNC. movie recommendations take many forms. International political conflicts, like Incendies. Small budget zombie flicks like Pontypool. Time loop craziness in the movies The Endless, or maybe Arq. Apocalyptic mayhem and what not in the Girl With All the Gifts. But generally, we don’t necessarily do westerns here. Just not really the place where craziness happens. And boy do we love craziness. But today, I’m bringing you a western mindjob thriller that tickled me pink. Think I Am the Pretty Thing That lives in the House but for the prairie, and 150 years ago.
Personally, the balancing act between the supernatural and madness is what intrigued me most about this movie. It was a tightly wound and deftly walked line. And I also thought that Caitlin Gerard definitely rocked this role as well. So if you haven’t seen it yet – check it out.
The Wind Overview
Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) and Isaac Macklin (Ashley Zukerman) live on a desolate stretch of the 19th century American frontier. Completely isolated, and totally alone in this horrible wilderness, Lizzy starts to become undone by the wind and the oppressive solitary confinement of the open plains. And eventually she starts to sense a horribly oppressive and sinister presence there on the plains. Soon, Emma and Gideon Harper, a newly married couple, arrive on the plain, and settle a mile away. But things continue their downward spiral when we realize that both women are equally effected by the oppressive plains.
Emma is really not doing well, she’s seeing things, and is certain that some evil thing is in command of these plains. And when it is about time for Emma to give birth to her child, Emma goes over the cliff, and commits suicide. And afterwards Lizzy attempts to save the unborn baby unsuccessfully. Soon after, the husbands head off to help get Gideon moved back to the east coast. And while they are gone, everything goes off the rails for Emma. She kills the goat, thinking it was a wolf. Lights are going on at Lizzy’s old house a mile away. Lights are spontaneously going out at her place.
And it all comes to a head when the itinerant preacher comes to the door. She feeds him, and extends her hospitality to him. But most importantly, she warns him, not to stay out after dark. And then she offers to the preacher Lizzy’s old home as a place to stay over night. (Side note here, totally love this one detail as the most authentic historical reference in the entire movie. There’s no way she lets him sleep inside her house, even with no one around for hundreds of miles. Propriety dammit.) That night is all kinds of crazy for Lizzy. She’s tormented (or afflicted) on all sides. She’s certain that the preacher is actually the demon of the plains. The two fight, and she barely gets out alive after having stabbed him in the stomach. And in the morning, she finds the preacher dead, in the field between the two houses.
Soon after, Lizzy’s husband arrives and she finds herself tied to the bed. And that is when we realize that Emma didn’t actually commit suicide with Lizzy’s gun. But instead Lizzy murdered her in a stark raving fit. And we were already assuming that it was Lizzy that murdered the preacher in her madness. So it’s this flashback that clears the story up for us, and makes it abundantly clear what has happened since minute one.
The moment after this movie ended, I ran to the interwebs and typed into the Google, “Prairie Madness”, and voila, it directed me to this truly informational Wikipedia page:
Prairie madness was caused by the isolation and tough living conditions on the Prairie. The level of isolation depended on the topography and geography of the region. Most examples of prairie madness come from the Great Plains region. One explanation for these high levels of isolation was the Homestead Act of 1862. This act stipulated that a person would be given a tract of 160 acres if they were able to live on it and make something out of it in a five-year period. The farms of the Homestead Act were at least half a mile apart, but usually much more.[ There was little settlement and community on the Plains and settlers had to be almost completely self-sufficient.
The lack of quick and easily available transportation was also a cause of prairie madness; settlers were far apart from one another and they could not see their neighbors or get to town easily. Those who had family back on the East coast could not visit their families without embarking on a long journey. Settlers were very alone. This isolation also caused problems with medical care; it took such a long time to get to the farms that when children fell sick they frequently died.[ This caused a lot of trauma for the parents, and contributed to prairie madness.
I currently live in and near the area where this could have happened. I literally would have gone out of my mind living in a house like that, sitting in a single home surrounded by miles of gently rolling hills. (And no internet!) I can totally imagine that this prairie madness is a very real and powerful thing. And yet, if you continue reading that same Wikipedia post, you’ll learn that while it was a thing, it was more so a literary device – and now a movie device – founded out of our fascination with the period.
The Wind Movie Cleverness
Knowing that this movie could have gone an entirely different direction – I was waiting for the next shoe to drop. Similar to the movie The Ritual, I thought that possibly we could get a host of demons and a god of the plains striding in to make a grand entrance. I half expected it to happen. And when we learn that the hell-spawn demon that we are to encounter was actually there in front of us all along I was legitimately surprised. But it requires a viewer expecting really anything to be surprised by this movie.
If you walked in expected a period western, then when you got a period western, you probably were disappointed. But I really enjoyed the double back myself. But I am outspoken in my love for closed box movies. And don’t get me wrong, this is the epitome of a closed box movie, in spite of the miles and miles of space surrounding their house. I adore movies that take three or four well fleshed out characters, and then put them in an emotional blender for a hundred minutes. I personally loved The Wind, but I’m sure there are many out there that found it a stereotypically tired idea. But I did not. What did you think of it?
Bespoke Movie Recommendations