THE WINDMILL MASSACRE
Director: Nick Jongerius
Year of release: 2016
Country of origin: Netherlands
Running time: 81 to 85 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Also known as: The Windmill
Taglines: "The miller is coming for you" and "This isn't Hell, this is Holland".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Things begin with Australian au pair Jennifer at work for a family in the Netherlands. The equilibrium of her life there is disrupted when she is challenged by her employers regarding a discrepancy on her passport. This confrontation prompts Jennifer to go on the run as she is hiding a dark secret connected to her past back in Australia. Looking to lie low for awhile and to evade unwanted attention she books a place for herself on a tourist bus that is setting off on a cross country trip around some of the famous windmills of the area. Not long into the trip however the bus breaks down leaving Jennifer and her fellow passengers, many of whom are harboring dark secrets of their own, in the middle of nowhere. After one of the group is mysteriously killed and the bus destroyed they push on to the only shelter nearby, a dilapidated barn and windmill. It quickly becomes apparent that they are not alone as a demonic miller purported to have long ago sold his soul to the devil still resides in and around the windmill and seems determined to make the tourists answer for their past sins with blood.
Good points: Several of the characters, most notably the final girl Jennifer but also Takashi and Curt are likeable and evoke sympathy. We want to see them triumph over the demonic miller. Although not likeable at all the characters of both Abe and Douglas were also good value and proved to be ever entertaining in their roles.
One of the best things about the film are the gore effects and it is safe to say that the production values in this area have not been skimped on at all. The stand out ones I found were the deaths of Douglas and Jackson.
With this being set in the Netherlands it has a slightly different flavour than most slashers and what we do see of the countryside and windmills is pleasing to the eye, nice to look at and generally well done. The picturesque cinematography makes for a good backdrop for a short while early on. As things progress the windmill itself is well shot and looks pretty creepy at night. They could have gone a bit further with the scenery though and maybe shown a bit more of the tour prior to the bus breaking down or have made the characters have a longer trek to reach the barn/windmill to wring a bit more mileage out of the interesting scenery.
There is a downbeat and slightly unexpected ending which was different than what I had expected. It didn't completely make sense as the windmill appeared to burn down but then looked to be back again at the very end but I guess there were supernatural forces at play. I liked how they went down a somewhat less traveled path for the ending anyway.
Bad Points: I was marginally disappointed that the miller was very much a supernatural urban legend type figure as opposed to a normal person which I personally prefer. I saw an early trailer short for the film where things looked to be quite different with the miler appearing to be a more flesh and blood kind of figure and I felt he had a better look to him and the trailer itself a far more gritty real feel. Not that what we got in the end was bad by any means but I think I would have liked it even more had they have gone down this avenue as seen in the trailer/short instead of what they ultimately turned it into.
It seemed a bit unrealistic to me that all the people on the bus would have dark secrets to atone for. I mean it would be unlikely for six people with dark secrets like that to even be in the same part of the city together at any one time let alone all booked onto the same tour bus. Even young Curt, the only one who didn't have a secret had the medical problem of his blood not clotting properly. Not a big problem I know but it did make things seem far fetched.
Taking the ending aside the main body of the film is predictable as it is quite clear which characters will die due to the sin/secret thing and there isn't much tension or suspense either with no real chase scenes to speak of.
As touched on earlier it is a disappointment that more isn't made of the location of the Netherlands countryside as the little we do see of it is a welcome addition. Once the bus breaks down though it enters familiar stranded in the woods territory which sucks a lot of the originality out of the film which was a stronger aspect of it up until that point.
Verdict: This is certainly a worthy slasher to spend an hour and a half or so with which is generally very entertaining and good fun especially in regards to some of the kills and gore effects. The characters add a lot as well and although I wasn't too keen on the miller himself due to his supernatural traits I did like his backstop at least. Could have done with more scares and more suspense but this is still a very decent effort and most likely something you can have some fun with.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Prostitute: Killed by Jackson off camera. I don't think it was revealed truly why or how he killed her. I include this death as it actually happens in real time (well real time if off camera) in the film as opposed to say the death of Douglas' wife which was in a flashback.
2) Jackson: Separated from his ankles by a scythe and then his head stomped and crushed by the miller's boot.
3) Nicholas: Eviscerated so that his guts fell out.
4) Ruby: Drowned in a small pool created by the miller.
5) Douglas: Decapitated by a rope being tied around his neck and one end attached to the windmill blade while the miller held the other.
6) Takashi: Stabbed by Abe.
7) Jennifer: Some sort of hook or a chain is driven into her skull with velocity and then she is dragged off into the burning mill.
(I didn't count Abe or the miller seeing that they seemed to have come back to life at the end)