When pulp-mystery author Sian Anderson needs seclusion to write her next bestseller, she rents a villa on a lonely, picturesque island off the coast of Greece. Before she’s even managed to draft her initial outline however, she finds herself caught up in the plot of a real-life murder-mystery when she witnesses the local handyman burying a body. A deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, as Sian is menaced in her isolated villa by the unhinged killer who is hellbent on ensuring there are no witnesses to his crime.
With its minimalist premise — à la The Spiral Staircase (1946), Midnight Lace (1960), Wait Until Dark (1967), Fright (1971) and Hush (2016) — a highly atmospheric location, a cast of cult genre stalwarts and an irresistible blending of home invasion, murder mystery, slasher and Gothic horror, The Wind has a lot going for it. It begins promisingly enough, with the set up quickly established and the protagonist forewarned of the dangerous, windy weather which means she will effectively be housebound. As Sian, a droll writer in the vein of Agatha Christie and Mary Roberts Rinehart, Meg Foster is an assured, commanding presence. Ever resourceful and cool-headed, she approaches the situation as if plotting one of her own novels. There’s also some interesting commentary on traditional societal gender stereotyping, especially in the dialogue between the novelist and the eccentric landlord of the villa she rents, and Sian takes great pleasure in correcting the assumption that she’s the writer of romance novels.
Sadly director Nico Mastorakis fails to muster the kind of sustained threat and tension that would really elevate this moody little creeper. Certain moments feel rushed and impinge upon what should have been a slow-burn cranking of suspense. Uneven pacing also renders certain segments rather plodding when they should have been breathlessly taut. While Sian demonstrates a strong proactive agency in a number of moments, many scenes simply feature the writer pacing around the house after making sure she’s secured all the windows and doors, chain-smoking and watching from the windows to check for signs of her would-be killer. When potential help arrives in the form of a couple of characters coming to check on her, what should have been moments of unease and tension, merely fizzle out. A few genre clichés, such as power cuts, dead phonelines, language barriers, and a raging storm, could easily be overlooked had they been used to evoke suitable suspense. Murderous handyman Phil (Wings Hauser) exudes sadistic menace, however he is eventually reduced to an almost comically blundering klutz by Mastorakis’ meandering direction and screenplay.
Despite failing to sustain the necessary tension, Mastorakis proves deft at creating an incredibly moody atmosphere and The Wind is a highly enjoyable, atmospheric thriller overall. The lonely location, Monemvasia, a small medieval fortress town on a tiny, sparsely populated island off Greece, is mined for all it’s worth: beautiful during daylight hours, but very different when the sun goes down, the shadows lengthen, and the wind begins to moan. The villa also takes on a creepy atmosphere after dark, enhanced by impressive sound design, a constantly howling wind and creaking, groaning house, with banging shutters and eerily billowing curtains. Unnerving, stealthy POV camerawork enhances the moodiness. Unfortunately, the aforementioned lack of suspense and a poorly staged climax results in it tailing off into a mere breeze instead of building into the raging, frenzied tempest it could have been.
13 Apr 2020