A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Dionne Copland’s debut feature is an isolationist horror that uses complex characters and relationships to really cut close to the bone. Here’s our review of Cold Wind Blowing!
Horror movies are a strange beast. No other genre, not even tragedy, is so intimately involved with death, grief, trauma, and loss. Even as a casual horror fan you will see any and every atrocity you can think of. There’s a very high probability that the characters that you care about are going to come to some hideous fate. From the first drop of on-screen ichor to the dissonant tension of shrieking strings, you know yr entering the charnel house, the sepulchre, the mausoleum. You know that all too often, to paraphrase the Lizard King, “no one here gets out alive.”
Ironically, considering that even low-grade horror movies will often have more blood and gore than Saving Private Ryan and Platoon put together, that death might have the least impact of any artform. As a hardened horror lover, i swear that i’ve had stronger emotional reactions to a toppling bowling pin or game of Duck Hunt, even with characters i’m firmly invested in. It’s just par for the course. If you’re a character in a horror movie, the odds are good that yr going to die.
In contrast, Cold Wind Blowing invests most of its runtime and energy in characters and relationship, being closer in tone to an indie drama, which makes the bloodplay that much more visceral and impactful.
The premise and plot of Cold Wind Blowing is fairly simple. Two siblings, Nomi (Angela Way) and Thomas (Dallas Petersen) invite a group of their misfit friends to their family’s remote cabin to celebrate Christmas, seemingly in the wake of their parent’s messy divorce. On their way to the cabin, we learn of some other history between the characters. We also learn that there’s some sort of unidentified killer on the loose.
That’s it, more or less. There’s lots of drama, lots of sexual tension, hooking up, double crossing, assholery, beer drinking, and pot smoking. It’s as much of a teen slasher as it is an indie drama. Both combine to form a complex compound of fear, dread, and tension.
Cold Wind Blowing seems to be a somewhat divisive film. Some seem to legitimately hate this movie. Others were distracted by inappropriate weather behaviour (if you’re in the Canadian wilderness on Christmas Eve, remember to shut the window when you go to take a bath, and wear a coat when you’re trying to outrun a killer skull-headed wolf!) At least one other horror critic liked it, but claims it’s a rehash of slasher tropes, (which is inaccurate. No one who had sex in this movie dies. The slutty girl lives, as does the Stoner, but i digress…)
It’s easy to imagine any and all of these reactions. For horror purists, Cold Wind Blowing might take a little too long to get going, as you don’t really see the monster (Larry Fessenden) for maybe 60% of the film. And what we see is sparse, at that.
For the gorehounds, there may be a “who the fuck cares?” reaction to all of the intrigue, the side-eyes and histrionics, mostly in the love triangle between Nomi, her ginger-haired hockey playing ex-beau Max (Alexander Lowe) and her best friend (and former lover it turns out) Casey (M.J. Kehler).
All of these elements come to a frothy, bloody boil in the film’s final act, however, and makes it all make sense. I’m not saying who it is, you’ll have to see Cold Wind Blowing to find out for yrself, but seeing a character you’ve spent a long time relating to, caring about, and being a generally good person, bleed out, it leaves a mark.
Cold Wind Blowing is an impressive debut. Director Dionne Copland has made a few short films and featurettes thus far, many of which feature this same cast where they likely developed their on-screen chemistry. The whole production speaks of great things brewing in the Great White North, with a whole new crew of dedicated horror lovers.
Cold Wind Blowing was screened as part of the Salem Horror Festival.
Welcome to 31 Days Of Horror! Each day this month, i’ll be reviewing and recommending horror movies, in addition to other media, art, and culture relating to the Horror genre. Make sure to check back as this site’s about to run red with more delicious horror madness than you could shake a stake at.
We’ve got a pretty stacked queue already, but am always open to suggestions, recommendations, and just knowing what y’all would like to see on this site. And what are y’all watching, reading, and listening to, this Season of the Witch?
Also, follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Letterboxd, for even more horror aesthetics and inspiration. Every day is Halloween here in the Forestpunk turret, so we’re looking forward to unleashing our plague of madness and wonders on the world. Happy October!