Under a full moon that makes a midnight snow appear even scarier and colder, a young girl runs barefoot though the snow toward the woods on the horizon. She’s bleeding from a scalp wound; she runs like a deer that has been shot by a midnight hunter and is too brave, too strong to die. The mountain doesn’t care.

Jeremy Renner’s Cory Lambert is a mountain wildlife guide and tracker, who hunts and kills mountain lions that slaughter cattlemen and sheepmen’s stock.

He prowls the snowy wasteland for a living. He has a gun like one you’ve never seen.

Like Redford’s “Jeremiah Johnson,” Cory, starring in writer-director Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River” seems at peace in the high lonesome, no longer interested in those down below.

Today, as it begins to snow, he will find a body. She is not a stranger.

We know that there is a killer in these mountains, maybe two, one will be a surprise.

Cory is a loner not by choice. He and his Native American wife Wilma (a strong Julia Jones) once lived in a warm, simple home with two children, a girl and boy.

The story of what broke up the marriage is an integral part of the film. The young son (Teo Briones) is close to his father, and Cory is teaching him how to stay alive in the gorgeous but dangerous wilderness.

There is law here, three Native American reservation cops headed by the wonderful, stoic Graham Greene (“Dances with Wolves,” “The Green Mile”) who plays Ben, the tribal police chief. Ben’s face is a mask seemingly carved out of the high rocks, with sky-searching eyes. These are his ancestor’s mountains, where violent death is no stranger.

But this is a death on federal land, and the feds are required to investigate. Their agent arrives by helicopter from Las Vegas, Nevada, and she is agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen). Jane seems to have been swooped away from a Vegas dinner date at the last minute. She arrives in Jimmy Choo’s high heels and black Schiaparelli pants.

Jane is a newly trained professional, a soon to be “Silence of the Lambs” Clarice Starling. In fact, “Wind River” has the smell, eerie pauses and jaw-dropping mistakes of that classic thriller.

Jeremy Renner, with impassive eyes, recalls the deadly persona of that strong and silent crew: Steve McQueen, Liam Neeson, Cooper and Brando.

Olsen’s agent Jane takes over the investigation with the blessing of the local natives, all willing to tag along, listen to the wind and water, but reluctant to stand too close to the lady of Las Vegas.

“If you go out there in those clothes,” Cory advises her, “You’ll be dead before we get to the crime scene.” The mother of the murdered girl reluctantly outfits her in her daughter’s outdoors clothes.

“Those are my daughter’s” she says, ” I want them back; they’re not gifts.”

Before the end of the day, a hardened team of oil tech workers will enter the picture, suspects will bloom like early spring mushrooms and three explosive scenes will cover the screen with blood.

Olsen and Brenner give taut, strong performances. They will exchange a few deep glances, but their worlds will never connect. This is not a romance. Death is in the trees watching.

Director Sheridan gives us an amazing performance by Gil Birmingham, who was Jeff Bridges’ partner in Sheridan’s great “Hell or High Water.” He suddenly blooms in front of us when he opens the door to find Cory with the news of his daughter.

Birmingham’s face in a tight closeup. It flows slowly from surprise to unbearable grief and surrender. If there is an Oscar for simple moments, Gil has already won.

The entire cast of Native American actors is without fault, and Ben Richardson’s superb camera roams, soars and captures the heart of Sheridan’s script. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ score plays on your raw nerves from note one.

Here then is Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River,” your haunting thriller of the summer.

A line to hold your breath on: “Jane, get away from the door, GET AWAY FROM THE DOOR.”

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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