Latin Horror’s Christian A. Morán and Edwin Pagán recently got invited to the IFC Office in the heart of New York City to meet the director behind the supernatural horror western, ‘The Wind‘, Emma Tammi.
“I’m so glad you guys have questions and are taking away different things because that was the point of what we were trying to achieve with this film all along.” – Emma Tammi
This interview is part of a two part assignment that includes Edwin Pagán’s review of ‘The Wind‘. You can read the review at: latinhorror.com/review-emma-tammis-the-wind
The following interview has spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to ruin your movie-going experience, don’t go beyond this caveat.
A few weeks ago, Latin Horror got invited to see ‘The Wind‘ at the IFC Center in downtown New York City. After seeing the film, Edwin and I talked a great deal about the movie and actually watched it several more times because we are horror nerds like that.
My initial reaction of the film was that “‘The Wind‘ is a nerve-racking story that will glue you to the edge of your seat from the first scene to the last. Director Emma Tammi sets the eerie tone of the film quickly with a shockingly bloody Lizzy (Caitlin Gerard) coming out of a homestead holding a stillborn. From there on you are engulfed into Lizzy’s grief, guilt and isolation that drives her into madness. Caitlin performance is strong, quiet, yet loud and brave. The cinematography by Lyn Moncrief is breathtaking with long landscapes shots that capture beautifully the dead land of the 19th-century American frontier. The use of these dry visuals represented Lizzy’s and other women’s wombs that can’t give birth. The film builds relentless tension with its haunting musical score (Ben Lovett) as well as the sounds design of the constant wind that becomes an essential character in the movie. I was terrified when the wind attacked Lizzy in the homestead. When the windows exploded I clearly jumped out of my seat frighten. ‘The Wind‘ is a carefully thought out film that will keep you paranoid of shadows, the wind and the idea that there is something sinister behind a door and in your mind.”
Now I’m here in a conference room at the IFC Office, about to have a chat with Emma Tammi. A director that I now admire because of how great her visual storytelling is in ‘The Wind‘.
Christian A. Morán: We have a Lizzy that is left alone for countless of hours or days after a stillborn. This can defiantly lead to mental health issues like anxiety, loneliness and guilt that leads to depression and isolation. Tell me how do you convey your vision to the Director of Photography of a woman that is emotionally feeling broken to herself and to her marriage in your film?
Emma Tammi: Yeah. You mean from her earlier stage of her life?
Emma: I think we were trying to, in terms of the cinematography we were trying to depict that part of her life as a little bit more balance. We were really pushing less comfortable camera angle towards the second half of her timeline. And that being said I think the first part of the timeline is really defined by trying to suppress some of the trauma that she was already going through. So trying to suppress some of the loneliness, trying to suppress some of the distance [that she is] already starting to feel with her husband. Maybe some of the isolation she was feeling as an immigrant. And in the second half, and certainly after she has a stillborn birth that’s another turn in her mental arch. But in the second half of the film, in terms of her timeline I think we were going balls to the wall in terms of her trying to keep a lid on everything. But it being so impossibly chaotic and insane to do, that we just let all of the fringes lose and let her go through the emotional ups and downs of questioning her sanity. Which is really what’s happening at the core.
Morán: At the start of the film Lilly looks into the mirror and her reflection is blurred. Lilly is trying to wipe off Emma’s blood and Emma’s child’s blood off her face. Later on in the film Lilly is wiping off her own blood on her lip after getting slapped by Emma, the mirror is clean. And from there on any of the mirror shots are crystal clear. Was this intentional? Was having the screen blurred a way of saying she is blocking a memory or in denial? Or having the clear reflection, a wake-up call that Lilly was always right, there is demons?
Emma: That’s interesting. I like that interpretation. I mean, that I think that actually had more to do with our set pieces and that some of the mirrors of that time and we were actually using mirrors from that time were more opaque and others were clearer as you say. But I think for that one, it’s a moment where she’s really seeing herself for what she is for that moment. Which is a cold blooded realization. And I think, to be looking at herself through a lens that is not completely clear makes all the sense in the world at that moment. Because it’s foggy, it’s messy, she almost doesn’t want to look at herself and she does it at that moment and it’s a moment of reckoning.
Morán: Let’s talk about the ending montage. The voice over between Lilly and Isaac starts with, “There is something out there. There is nothing out there. This land, there something wrong with it.” And form this point on I notice something in the visual. Isaac said, “Your mind is looking for things to worry about.” We see Lilly is in the middle of a field sitting on a bed. Then Isaac says, “1st baby and all.” We cut to Lilly closing the door with the bible in her hand. Isaac then says, “It’s just you and me.” And Lilly is in the middle of a field again, same framing but with no bed. She is sitting on the floor. Is that a way of saying the “broken bed” is over, the feeling of no intimacy, the feeling of not satisfying the significant other, infidelity, the feeling of being broken and alone?
Emma: I think in some way that is part of the fabric of that end. She’s basically bleeding out to her death at that moment and as she’s staggering out basically to die in the field. She is thinking back on all of the people that got her there, all the moments. And I think some of the moments that could’ve been the turning points, some of the warmer memories of her and Isaac. Some of the moments where if she had actually been able to turn it off or not believe in it or was there ever a different path. So I think she is looking back at some of those memories fondly and some of them in a very cryptic way because she has a wisdom now that she was doomed from the get go. And I think we were able to experience that with her going through that montage. But with going out to the field I think there’s an additional thing happening there, which is a wind that has been tormenting her the whole film, she is embracing it for the first time. And she’s leaving the confinement of the cabin which has been, which she’s been constantly using as a source of protection. Trying to keep the thing that’s out there, away, the door closed, she’s just now embracing it, going out to it. And I think that bed is something that gives her comfort and she’s in a dream state at the point as she is bleeding out. As she is finding comfort in the thing that has been her trauma throughout the whole film and letting it go.
Morán: The threshold of home has religious implications such as to carry a bride to prevent demons that are lurking inside the home or to prevent family demons form following the bride into the new home. A lot of the Lilly’s struggle comes from two points, one from outside of the Threshold, which will be nature and strangers and the other is inside the Threshold which would be herself and her loved one. Even the bible that was buried with Samuel falls is found by her right at threshold. Tell us about Lilly’s gradual loss of her sanity in that home? I feel it has to do with her home representing her mind because once she let The Reverend in the house that’s when she completely loses it. She no longer has that safe place.
Emma: I think that’s a great interpretation of it, I think throughout the whole film she is trying to do something very basic which is to create a stable home. A warm home and a family and that’s against all odds. She’s chosen to be in a place that is not hospitable to that at all. And she’s leading a life that is stacked against her in terms of achieving that goal. So I think the home does represents that.
‘The Wind‘ will be in theaters April 5, 2019.
CAST: Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles, Miles Anderson, Dylan McTee
DIRECTOR: Emma Tammi
WRITTEN BY: Teresa Sutherland
PRODUCED BY: Christopher Alender, David Grove
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
DISTRIBUTOR: IFC Midnight
Here is a cool playable eight-bit video game trailer by Airdorf: https://airdorf.itch.io/thewind