Living at the edge of the 19th century frontier, husband and wife, Isaac and Lizzy, live in complete seclusion as far as the eye can see until another couple, Gideon and Emma, settle a mile away in a nearby cabin. Unused to the punishing conditions the frontier might yield, the St. Louis bred Gideon and Emma find living without the comforts of urban life challenging and rely on Isaac and Lizzy’s strength and experience for survival. However, the frontier’s harsh reality produces a malevolent presence that flows through the prairie, stalking and toying with the settlers, only revealing itself to Lizzy while the others act if nothing is going on or just acting strange. The sudden and violent death of Emma and her unborn child send Gideon and Isaac on a two-day ride to nearby town, leaving Lizzy to face the isolated terror alone with only a double barrel shotgun that never leaves her side, but in her strife, Lizzy learns more about her newfound neighbors and even unearths some troubling truth about her husband that even further segregates Lizzy from the rest of reality.
If there wasn’t one more single thing to demonize, director Emma Tammi conjures up “The Wind” to mystify the western frontier. As Tammi’s debut directorial, penned by short film screenwriter Teresa Sutherland, the supernatural film’s dubbing could be a rendering of a long lost Stephen King working title, but all corny jokes aside, “The Wind” really could from the inner quailing of Stephen King’s horror show mindset. The film’s produced by Adam Hendricks and Greg Gilreath under their U.S. label, Divide/Conquer, and released in 2018. The same company that delivered the horror anthology sequel “V/H/S: Viral,” Isa Mezzei’s sleeper thriller “CAM,” and the upcoming, second remake of “Black Christmas” with Imogen Poots and Cary Elwes. With a premise dropped right into the fear of the unknown itself and with some powerful production support, “The Wind” should have soared as an unvarnished spook show come hell or high noon, but the jury is hung waiting on the executioners ultimate verdict regarding Tammi’s freshman film.
Five actors make up all the cast of “The Wind,” beginning with the solemn opening night scene with frontier men, Isaac Macklin (Ashley Zukerman of “Fear the Walking Dead”) and Gideon Harper (Dylan McTee of “Midnighters”), waiting patiently outside a cabin door until Isaac’s wife, Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard of “Insidious: The Last Key”) walks out, supposed baby in hand, and covered in blood. The subtle, yet chilling scene sets the movie from the get-go, sparking already a mystery at hand and coveting most of the focused cast. The two characters unannounced at the beginning, swim in and out of flashbacks and toward the progression of Lizzy’s embattlement with “The Wind.” That’s not to say that these characters are any less favorable to the story as “Slender Man’s” Julia Goldani Telles shepherds a vivid description of subtle lust and extreme instability that rocks a strong and self-reliant Lizzy living priorly a stale reality. There’s also the introduction of a wandering and warm pastor that leads to chilling reveal questioning any kind second guesses there might be about Lizzy. All thanks to veteran television actor, Miles Anderson.
“The Wind’s” non-linear narrative teases two courses, one working forward and the other backwards to a catalytic moment that becomes motivational for majority of characters in the prior days and the beginning of the end for one in particular. Though the latter centralizes around Lizzy’s flashbacks and encounters with the evil spectral wind, her descent into madness conjures more violently through the discovery; it’s as if her current state of mind has been stirred, whirled, whipped, tumbled, and agitated from the past that keeps lurking forward into her mind’s eye. Tammi pristinely conveys a subtle message of undertones from the past and present that chip away at Lizzy’s forsaken reality, leaving those around her delicately exposed to her untreated alarms to the nighttime wind of a menacing nature. Teresa Sutherland’s script to story is illuminate tenfold by the wealth in production that recreates the rustic cabins and the callously formed hardships of the western frontier and if you combine that with the talents of cast, “The Wind” will undoubtedly blow you away.
Umbrella Entertainment delivers Emma Tammi’s “The Wind” into the Australian DVD home video market and presented in the original aspect ratio, a widescreen 2.35:1, that develops a hearty American untrodden landscape for the devil to dance in the wind. Cinematographer Lyn Moncrief’s coloring is a bit warm and bland to establish a western movie feel and really had notes of a Robert Eggers (“The Witch”) style in filmmaking with slow churn long shots and a minimalistic mise-en-scene, especially for a similar pseudo-period piece. Eggers invocation solidified itself more so in the Ben Lovett’s crass and cacophony of an instrumental score that adds more to the creepiness factor while remaining relatively framed in the time era. The Umbrella Entertainment’s release goes right into the feature without a static menu so there are no bonus features to dive into. “The Wind” might feel like an unfinished piece of cinematic literature, but remains still a damn fine thriller that seeps ice cold chills into the bones and ponders the effects of loneliness and trauma that’s nearly puts this film into the woman versus nature category, a premise that will be hopefully concluded by a upcoming book adaptation.
Crush might be another edgy, teen melodramatic turned psychotic, obsessive-driven suspense genre film, but Crush provides a solid story that entertains. The teenage day-to-day runs over exaggerated throughout – a teenage life we wish we all had minus the crazy crush. Director Malik Bader works his black magic over his indie project that compares itself to a minor league version of 1993’s (29 years later…coincidence?) Crush starring Alicia Silverstone and Cary Elwes.
The most popular guy in high school has it all – a soccer superstar, good looks, and a beautiful best friend who is head over heels for him. His life seems perfect until a crush begins to secretly stalk him and remove any obstacles that may halt her destructive path that might interrupt their ultimate “union” together.
I’m going to begin with what I dislike about Crush. Crush, like I mentioned before, over exaggerates the teenage life. High School parties involving alcohol were never this easy to obtain, but for these “kids” the parties seem to be conjured with ease. Also, practically almost no adult presence or the adults are among the clueless crowd throughout the film. Parents are rarely clueless because adults were once teenagers. Thirdly, why in all these obsession thrillers are the mentally unstable women always model-like hot? My mental picture of a woman of this nature, should have a socially unpleasing appearance. I’m imagining a large nose, frizzy hair, over weight, frumpy, maybe even anorexic, gothic and such. However in Crush this is not the case. Lastly, every woman in the film has a hard on for the main character, the soccer superstar. Even his English teacher flirts with him, asks him to call her to “discuss” a novel (even though she never gave him the title of the book).
With all that said, there are numerous undertones to the film. Teacher-student relationship borders are being crossed, the socially accepted version of beauty, the absent presence of adults in a youth’s life, and the way we, as teens, want to perceive our young lives with parties, sex, and alcohol. Crush’s plot plays off these issues, but quickly just hints at most of them and then just as quickly discards.
Technically, the film can compete with most modern day productions. The story could use strategic work to cover up the twist ending because one could decipher the ending without having to watch the entire film. My most aggravating aspect of Crush is with DVD/Blu-ray cover as this gives away the film’s ending making act one and two of the film pretty much pointless. I’ve probably said too much already, but I won’t go into more details about that. In fact, I’ve probably done enough damage to the film’s reputation, but don’t take my word for it because Crush is certainly entertaining with hints of Swimfan sprinkled throughout – okay, maybe not sprinkled but definitely heavily garnished – and everybody loves watching crazy women when the crazy women aren’t being crazy on them.