Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the slasher horror movie THE WINDMILL by writer/director Nick Jongerius. For the sake of brevity, I will turn to an edited version of the IMDB plot summary to best describe the story:
A bus-load of tourists embarking on a tour of Holland's world famous windmills breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The tourists are forced to seek shelter in a disused shed beside a sinister windmill where, legend has it; a Devil-worshipping miller once ground the bones of locals instead of grain. As members of the group start to disappear, it becomes clear that they all have something in common that marks them all for doom.
One of the first things that distinguished this feature from the many that have come before was the fact that there were no subtitles whenever a foreign language was spoken. For the most part, English is the dominant language, but we have a Japanese character and the Dutch setting as well, so there was a spat of different tongues on display. I really enjoyed the idea of having to figure out what was going on in these scenes as it added a sense of realism trying to decipher the meaning from how the actor was portraying the character.
The majority of the roles leaned towards the broad side of things, but the actors still did a commendable job in their portrayals. In lesser hands these characters could have become cartoonish cutouts of the many archetypes we have seen before, but the players brought just enough to their roles to keep things grounded. While the level of gravity they brought to the characters is important, I do wish their roles had a bit more complexity to match the deep mythology of their antagonist.
Our antagonist takes shape in a scythe wielding, undead miller with an interesting background story. As we learn the intricacies of his mythos, he becomes one of the most fascinating antagonists I have seen in awhile and a bloody force of nature. Sadly, it is the emphasis of this second part where this film begins to fall short as certain things happen in the third act that contradicts the rules set forth. While I can justify at least one of the choices made, there was a pivotal moment where they completely disregarded the mythology of the antagonist that made the ending feel like more of a typical horror movie than the cut above it had been before.
Even though the plot sputters out in the finale, the technical prowess on display throughout this picture never falls flat. The effects are quite good with some nice framing of the various kills that maximizes their impact. One scene in particular, involving a reflection, was beautiful to behold; managing to strike a great balance between atmosphere and aesthetic. The composition showed a lot of promise without ever devolving into the cheap look of some similar slasher fare.
All in all, this feature has some good technical features, fine acting, and an interesting mythology, but, upon closer examination, struggles to create a satisfactory finale. If the idea at play had been trusted, rather than trying to kowtow to what is expected, this would have been an easy film for me to recommend. Even with that being said, devotees of supernatural slasher fare could do much worse and there are some comparisons to be made to the popular movie EVENT HORIZON (1997) that might intrigue some horror fans.
The Creeping Craig