The Windmill (2016)
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Let me start by saying this is a film with definite potential. Its far from utterly bad. It employs a good cast of capable actors, a rather novel and fresh premise, plus some good horror elements. That said, it breaks the key rule of any good slasher flick, its not all that scary.
Th reason The Windmill Massacre is not overly scary lies in its scripting. After the first death, there's very little uncertainty as to who, how and when the next person, will die. Indeed, there is a "lead in", that tells you for the most part, whats about to happen to who, next.
The net result is a film robbed of the sudden death, "jump in your seat", surprise factor. That's what good slashers are really all about. Not the final dispatch but the dread and tension, leading up to that suddenly and violently realized moment, when the killer strikes.
Its a shame too, as this film looked promising. Even making a second film may not solve this issue, as the approach taken is more or less, "locked in". That is, its intrinsic to the legend built around the killer. As it stands then, a moderately entertaining horror film, that offers some entertainment value, but could have been so much more. Six out of ten from me.
Telling the story of a number of people who get aboard a tour of Holland but become stranded and under attack from an unseen enemy who seems to know their darkest secrets.
The idea is quite clever, the execution is solid but where it fails is the execution and wide quantity of plot holes and unexplained events.
I wanted to like this and was certainly impressed with the quality but just couldn't get past certain head scratching moments.
Perfectly watchable stuff but it is the very definition of take your brain out entertainment.
Plenty of plot holes
Things I Learnt From This Movie:
When hiring a nanny employees will not do an extensive background check
That kid will need SO much therapy
First and foremost, the film rather cleverly solves a typical issue that Dutch speaking productions always struggle with! It sounds horrible when Dutch or Belgian actors/actresses attempt to speak English, so instead of that, "The Windmill Massacre" almost exclusively stars native English speakers that are supposedly tourists in Amsterdam. That's just smart, period! Following a whole bunch of separate clips that only start making sense later in the film, 7 people (an Aussie girl, a former model, an Asian student, a mariner, a surgeon and a British father with his teenage son) board a ramshackle tour bus that takes them on a trip past several idyllic windmills. The bus naturally breaks down, but when two courageous passengers head towards a nearby windmill for help, they painfully experience that the miller – Hendrik – is a nastily deformed and bloodthirsty type of avenging demon. This group wasn't coincidentally put together, as it turns out they all have committed horrible sins and now they have to pay for them. For a horror flick from The Netherlands, "The Windmill Massacre" has a solid and compelling story to tell (especially in comparison to other recent titles like "Dood Eind" or "De Poel"), and you'll even gladly overlook the rather many clichés and improbabilities in the script. The film also features loads of gratifying gore and delightful make- up effects. Hendrik, the deadly miller, looks like a hybrid between Jason Voorhees and the Chatterer Cenobite from the original "Hellraiser". There's a cool urban legend linked to his existence (something about selling his soul to the devil) and enjoys things like stomping people's heads with his boots or throwing rusty chains in people's faces. Good, unpretentious entertaining Holland should be proud of!
I had high hopes for this film due to the style alone but sadly it turns out to be a typical waste of time, a thinly-plotted outing that's endlessly padded with long and boring flashbacks. It's the kind of film that tries to make mystery and mileage out of the back stories of the main characters but I found all of these bits just slowed the action down to a snail's pace.
The acting isn't too bad, with a lot of British faces familiar from WATERLOO ROAD and THE OFFICE showing up, and Noah Taylor is always fun. The kills are pretty graphic but the director doesn't really seem to be interested in his killer all that much, and the climax is weak. Even though the film is fairly well shot, the material is so predictable that it becomes just another forgettable outing.
I must offer to you a confession: I like movies that give me a fright. If the subject is horror I got to see more or I won't be contented all night.
-from "The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati"
Fair warning: I'm biased in favor of movies involving horror, monsters, the supernatural, the paranormal, space aliens, zombies, science fiction, and those Twinkies of cinema, found footage. I would rather drink syrup of ipecac than watch "On Golden Pond", "Places in the Heart", or "Fried Green Tomatoes". I am not William Blake; what you will read here is the foamy-mouthed drivel of Clyde the Village Idiot.
While it's true that 97% of the movies within the above listed genres are utter rubbish, I put on garbage bags and it's my hobby to dig through the stinking pile and find the few that are, miraculously, somehow redeemable. So be confident in the knowledge that only the highest quality cultural dreck will receive a positive review.
"THE WINDMILL" (a.k.a. The Windmill Massacre)
As it turns out, the gateway to hell is actually in Holland! And you'll never guess where. In a windmill! I know, right!? Who'd a thunk it? Considering that about 26% of Holland's area is below sea level and only about 50% of its area is more than a meter above sea level, global warming and the consequent rise in sea levels could result in all sorts of metaphysical conundrums. Ha! I managed to wedge in some whingeing about global warming in a review of a horror picture about a windmill. Bet you did not see that coming.
If we take the plot line of "the Windmill" and reduce it to its structural abstraction, it's basically the same as about a zillion other slasher movies with a supernatural topspin. A logically related group of people (a football team with cheerleaders, a neighborhood full of trick- or-treaters, a collection of people on a boat, a lost group of hikers taking refuge in a cabin, etc.), in this case a tour group on a tour bus in Holland, get artificially stranded beyond cell phone reach and get picked off by an antagonist with optional supernatural origins/connections. Not new. SO not new.
There is a meager surprise or two during the course of the film, ostensibly I suppose to break the mechanical progression as we dice up one tourist-victim after another. We learn, for example, that this is a truly "organized" tour, as most members of the tour group are sinners, and so not here by accident, and are therefore the devil's due. And we also learn that one of the people on the bus is in cahoots with the hellish tour management.
But rather carelessly in my opinion, having gone so far as to set up a reason and rationale for why we're here and why people are being picked off in a collection of gruesome ways, the movie then violates its own rules by killing off the members of the tour group who have been identified as "innocents" ANYWAY, just by operatives other than the designated bogeyman. So guilty you get whacked and innocent you get whacked. By being innocent you get the added insult of being whacked by the assistant. If it were me I would insist upon a tour ticket refund.
One such innocent completes his tenure in the picture staring dazedly back at the burning windmill having just been sprayed head to toe with the skull innards of the apparent heroin of the picture. We are never sure where or how this particular character ends up. A loose end, I say.
Somewhat reservedly, I'll stick my neck out and say, specifically to my kindred spirits out there, that this movie barely squeaks into the realm of the "worth watching". But just barely. But only when you have nothing else to watch or are too sleepy to change streams. It only makes this grade by virtue of its unique and peculiar setting and origin hypothesis. Do be prepared to feel bad for the heroin. She can't win for losing right down, apparently, to the legal fine print of the supernatural.
As I got into the cinema, I was actually the last person to get there, I saw that the movie was from Holland and had a good feeling of it; Nowadays, modern American Movies in the horror genre are not entertaining to me - they are full of clichés, bad actors and cheap scares.
After seeing this movie, I was pleasantly surprised because I did not know what to expect... and this is the best way to experience a movie... just know that it is good.
The movie has a legend-fairy-tale type of feeling. It has good acting and well developed characters, each one unique. The movie develops the relationship within the characters. There is gore worthy of "the walking dead." And finally, it brought me back to an era of movies like "Freddy Krueger" when they were magical in their own way.
In conclusion, I do recommend this movie. It is not the best, but it is worthy of the attention of a horror buff. A good horror movie focuses on characters, and character development with good old fashioned scares, thrills and kills; and this one supplies that.
The film has some humor in it such as the photographer who asks "Where do I find these windmills?" The characters, while most were not developed, were interesting. Charlotte Beaumont played her role extremely well and could star in something a bit more relevant. In fact the entire cast did a good job, kudos to writer director Nick Jongerius...and I didn't see that last bit coming, expecting the film to end formula.
Guide: F-word. No sex or nudity.
Bad dialogue, bad script, bad acting, bad premise, bad pacing, bad delivery, boring development and incredibly bad production. The music sounded like it came from a better film that could be taken seriously.
Noah Taylor, an Australian actor with far too much screen credit to be in a turkey like this looked positively grateful to be disemboweled very early on. You could see his eyes smiling with glee as he was holding his own entrails because he knew he had just cashed his paycheck and would be seeing himself out of this disaster. Poor Charlotte Beaumont and other unfortunate actors had to endure upwards of another fifty minutes of career suicide.
The reason I am not posting any spoilers is that there is no way anyone could not figure out the plot of this film if they are out of diapers or have watched any cinema in the last century.
To be honest, it does has elements of that particular genre but again, it's typical Nick to add some weird elements to the story. In fact, there's a lot of supernatural stuff going on so I really can't say that it is a slasher. There's a killer out but the elements to call it a slashers aren't in it, no point of view from the killer for example. But I do liked it more then the Frankenstein flick. The reason is that there are some gory shots here and there and the fact that the ending had a big surprise that I can't go deeper in or I would have to spoil.
Due the gore added, it's worth picking up but the supernatural stuff wasn't my thing at all. I could compare it with Jason Voorhees in the latest Friday The 13th flicks were he's still coming back again and again, he really can't be killed and that being mixed with the killer from the Hatchet franchise.
Not for everybody but entertaining enough to watch it with some friends.
Gore 1,5/5 Nudity 0/5 Effects 3/5 Story 2,5/5 Comedy 0/5
I am what you would consider quite the horror connoisseur. I've seen my fair share of films from this genre, ranging from the sublime (Martyrs, Calvaire) to the overrated (It follows), and down to the outright rubbish (The Happening).
Now I have to admit, I pretty much figured out the whole plot almost immediately, before it was officially revealed. The basic premise has been done and rehashed so many times so as to become a cliché. I won't give it away for fear of spoiling it prematurely (not that there is anything really to spoil), but what makes this different than the rest, and why I immediately forgave this foible, is that unlike the previous movies that employed this premise, this film didn't use that "twist" as some sort of secret to be revealed until the end, thereby purposely making you wonder what is happening all throughout the movie by throwing out a multitude of strange and bizarre ambiguities at the viewer. No, in "Windmill" the plot is completely revealed within the first 1/3 of the movie, and uses it to carry the story line forward, as well as to create further tension and conflict. There was absolutely no attempt made by the filmmakers to make up for bad writing by simply explaining it away at the end by the big "reveal". That's what I loved about it. I think it's called GOOD WRITING, and this movie made me realise just how rare this is in the horror genre these days! "Windmill" was honest with what it was, and certainly didn't skimp on the blood and guts. In fact, it liked to revel in its bloody glory...thus making the experience what it should be...a pure and unadulterated gore-fest!
The effects were more than decent, the acting was more than acceptable, and despite the fact that the plot has been done before (as I previously mentioned), it was expertly presented to the viewer in a fresh and original manner. If you're into the slasher/gore genre with a decent and well-written plot to it, then you cannot go wrong with "Windmill"!
What it does have is a really nice setting, likable characters, gory deaths that are predictable but still enjoyable, and a crisp backstory. I wish there was more about this backstory, like maybe a sequel that focuses on the villain's past. He may not be much of a villain now, but his backstory is better than Jason Voorhees's or Freddy Krueger's.
It also manages to tell a 'Repent or Die' story without coming off as preachy, which is quite an accomplishment if you look at righteous little pieces of work like The Suffering and The Binding. Kudos for that.
I have to take points off for our heroine's sub-par acting at times. She's the star of the film but doesn't seem to have an awful lot of variety in her facial expressions. The marine, for instance, gives a much better performance.
During the tour, the bus breaks down near an old windmill and from then on it's a tale of revealed secrets and almost ritual killings for those who choose to live with their secrets instead of repenting. After the breakdown, 2 people, the Australian nanny and the British soldier, try and see if they can get help from a nearby farmhouse and while they were out, a demonic looking figure appears, kills one of them with a scythe, leaving the other to run back to the bus to tell the others. Of course no one believes her, the bus then starts to topple sideways into a nearby lake with the help of a demonic hand and now with everybody off the bus and taking shelter in a nearby cabin, one by one the passengers start having flashbacks to their hidden thoughts and secrets and dying in strange and unconventional ways. They'd start to hallucinate about what they're hiding and the demon would then kill them, however it's then discovered that if they repent and are genuinely sorry for what they've done, the demon is not able to kill them. It's not until this happens that we learn the driver of the bus is in cahoots with the demon as he kills anyone who manages to get a reprieve through repenting. We also learn that the miller who originally lived at the windmill was a devil worshipper and became a demon after he was burned alive by local villagers.
At the end, the bus driver is back in Amsterdam and picking up another load of passengers or "sinners" as he refers to them jovially as well as literally for another windmill tour and you realise that this will never really end.
The Windmill Massacre story albeit interesting and entertaining certainly isn't new as there's a ton of other movies where we have a vengeful demon collecting the souls of sinners for their own needs and the use of idiot human helpers never ceases to amuse me. There's never a shortage of people all too willing to help out demons who for reasons largely unknown all seem to come with a set of rules and caveats for things that they can't accomplish on their own. So while that aspect is quite silly and never fully explained, this is still worth a look and lovers of demonic revenge movies will no doubt get a kick out of this.
I don't want to waste even more time and effort 'reviewing' this film, so I'll just leave at this; at the end of the day, no matter how a film looked, was acted, written etc, it either leaves you with something worthwhile, no matter how small an aspect of the movie or, sadly, just feels like a minor violation of your time and intelligence. This seemingly had a stranger in a strange land rural euro Gothic feel being set up - an atmospheric that I particularly like. Sadly, it was just veneer and was worn thin 30 minutes into the film, leaving only the same old scourge of god plot mover that, on its own, devoid of other significant redeeming qualities, leaves you with a factory output that could have been any 100 I've see before if I squinted my eyes to blur the details.
The film doesn't deserve this much attention (I'll just sit in wonder at what positive reviewers are taking away from this movie). I recently re-watched Haute Tension and again came away with a healthy respect for the rural-Gothic-euro atmosphere it created and sustained. Same goes for Ils (2006), Frontier(s)(2007), Martyrs (2008) and Horsehead (2014) to name a few. Even in a slasher film, there should be something worthy of the horror besides the gore. This one ain't got it.
Now don't get me wrong, there are good moments that happen after the first half hour or so. There were really cool and creative kills throughout the movie, the character backstories that get unveiled later are well written, delivered, make sense, and are interesting.
And that's the real shame. There were a lot of really good ideas, effort, well written scenes, passion, and good acting in this movie. But the longer it runs the more it loses sight of what it is and just unravels.
Some other reviewers have pointed this one out, and that's that the movie very early on shows its villains face. That's problematic because the characters try and find the killer within them while you as the viewer already know who it is, draining a lot of the tension.
However, while I agree that that is a problem with the movie, I don't think it's the biggest one, and man there are many. Even though, most of them have to do with the movie trying to overreach.
For starters, there's a twist put on one of the characters at the end that really doesn't work and Oh. More on that ending. It tries to be thought provoking and deep but ends up just not being what you want to see and ultimately just comes off as just sloppy.
Another thing the movie does is use the supernatural. A gamble that, while it actually lead to a number of really great kills and character reveals, ended up really hurting the movie. That's because the aforementioned ending and character twist have to do with it. If the movie had just been a movie about people stranded in the middle of nowhere, dying off one by one and they have to figure out if it's one of them or someone/thing else entirely, that could've been great. Or, there's a point in the movie where a character reads something that makes some of the characters realize there's something off/supernatural about the situation they're in. And if they'd just not added any more "deep" or supernatural ideas onto of that, I would have enjoyed it still.
But as it stands, I don't like this movie. I want to like it but I just can't. I love the first half hour, I love the kills, and the acting and delivery of many lines is really good. But the movie just falls apart the longer it runs and that's why I have to give it a measly 6/10.
That's also the reason I think it's a good movie to study for film students. It does so many things so right and yet, look at what it has on IMDb. Look at what I gave it.
If you are going to make a slasher film, make a crappy slasher movie in a genre with it's too many to count slashers. If you make a redemption film make a redemption film. Reviews here claim a "Freshness" just because the main area is Dutch. No wonder everyone is so willing to watch the SAME idea over and over again and rationalize that it is different somehow.
I can only fathom that viewers giving it a high score have not read too many short stories or books or seen many movies in their life because this theme is done over and over. "Well people in this film have different names and in a different locale". A basic plot is a basic plot is a basic plot.
This movie is SO predictable as they all are. So I am left with perhaps great acting, no, adequate. How about music? Adequate. Is the protagonist an interesting character? No. Design for the Miller? Pathetic. Typical run of the mill (no pun intended) death scenes. The shooting and backgrounds were good. Just aspects of the film taken from this movie and that.
First of all, we meet Jennifer (Charlotte Beaumont), who is operating as a child minder under an assumed name. Soon we discover she has run away from her native Australia due to a tragic accident. We're not told specifics, but she continually suffers flashbacks and what she thinks are hallucinations. It turns out she set fire to the family caravan, deliberately burning alive her abusive father – and by accident, her young brother.
Boarding a bus for The Happy Holland Tour, alongside a small group of others (despite having no ticket – "Ah well, what's another sinner? Just joking," jests the weary driver/guide Abe (Bart Klever), all of whom have guilty secrets of their own), their crimes are revealed at leisure throughout the film, and they are briskly – and gorily – dealt with by a ravaged, scythe-wielding killer. Only West's young son Curt (Adam Thomas Wright) appears to be an innocent, although at times, the film allows us to have our doubts about him.
There is a truly diverse cast here, of many ages. No clichés, no stereotypes, just very real characters played by excellent actors (especially Wright, who exhibits none of the precociousness displayed by other juveniles). Curt suffers the most, perhaps; hearing his strained father has done something horrible to his mother, he then has to watch the images, on his mobile phone, of his father being beheaded. His fate is the only one not accounted for at the film's close.
Even our protagonist has to pay for her crime. As the windmill is set afire, it seems history is repeating itself, with another youngster trapped inside. This time, however, she saves him, but this does not atone for her crime in the eyes of 'the master'.
Director/Writer Nick Jongerius has guided us on a terrific journey. Ending with Abe's bus rattling along misty Dutch countryside with another collection of doomed carrion, this never falls into any real cliché. There is emotion, but never over-sentimentality; there is a good balance between story-telling and shock value; even the special effects are economical with CGI, preferring physical effects. Highly recommended.