The Windmill Massacre (2016)
"This isn't hell. This is Holland."
When a coach full of tourists taking a tour of some of Holland’s famous windmills breaks down, the group discover that they are near a windmill that isn’t on any map. Soon, they find themselves being stalked by a mysterious killer who begins to take victims and use the blood to restore life to his cursed windmill.
The Windmill Massacre isn’t going to win any awards for originality. It’s about as predictable as the sun rising and setting every day. You know the score by now with this type of slasher film – stock characters, stock location and a killer with a disfigured look thrown into the mix. Despite the European flavour to this one with the initial Amsterdam locale, The Windmill Massacre quickly moves locations to the titular landmark and stays there for the duration, thus negating any real sense of identify the film was trying to establish. It is not a promising look early on to become so generic but thankfully The Windmill Massacre doesn’t drag its feet.
A slasher with a supernatural element, it’s obvious what the big plot twist is from the moment they break down, but The Windmill Massacre does just about enough to keep the momentum moving forward and forget about the inevitable conclusion it builds towards. The characters are all hiding a dark secret and so the morality play-like narrative works out to allow each one to confront their sin and try and deal with it before they are punished. In many ways, this set-up reminded me of some of the old Amicus anthologies like Vault of Horror, where a group of characters who share a common link (usually they’re dead or are about to die) assemble with some shady central character and the film breaks itself down into separate stories to tell us what each one did before pulling the rug out at the end. The Windmill Massacre feels like it should have been the wraparound story for an anthology film, rather than being a recycled idea dragged out to ninety-minutes. This central idea of characters repenting is clearly better than the execution here, as once this little secret is revealed to the audience, the film just kind of forgets it, realises it has to kill off more characters and then keeps feeding them to the murderous miller regardless of whether they’re repenting or not.
To the credit of the script, The Windmill Massacre doesn’t just rush into the blood and guts and spends the first twenty minutes introducing the characters and developing something of a backstory to them. it’s all well and good in theory but the problem is, you still won’t really care about most of them by the time they start getting killed off. I guess we’re not supposed to like some of them, given their previous sins, but I’d settle for actually feeling something towards them, anything, to make their inclusion worthwhile. A weak supporting cast of characters and a weak female protagonist hurt the narrative, as you don’t empathise with anyone enough to care about their trials and tribulations. Just get to the damn killing!
The slasher elements are generally good, though the miller doesn’t really do much stalking or chasing to build up any tension, in fact the whole film is largely a scare vacuum. The miller just turns up, does his thing and then disappears until the next kill with little to no tension or suspense being constructed in the meantime. At least there’s some really decent kills, brought to life with some great practical work courtesy of the Hillenbrink brothers, with a head stomping and an out-of-nowhere piercing to the skull being the two most memorable moments. The gore effects have been given pride of place and it’s nice to see something substantial being put forward in front of the camera as it’s about all the film has got in its arsenal of tricks.
The miller himself looks like a bloke wearing a generic Halloween costume but there’s not a lot of wiggle room in a sub-genre which has already used the best ideas. Whilst borrowing from more popular horror icons, the miller is at least an imposing physical presence who is adept at using his scythe to cull the cast down. There’s not too much depth to his character and his origins but that’s not that vital to the story. In many respects, director Nick Jongerius knows his target audience and what they both want and expect from a genre outing like this and presents this carnage accordingly.
The Windmill Massacre doesn’t completely bodge up the routine formula it’s based upon, providing enough passable entertainment for one viewing. It’s well paced and has enough gory kills scattered throughout to keep itself from stalling, just don’t expect the wheel reinvented.
The Windmill Massacre
Director(s): Nick Jongerius
Writer(s): Nick Jongerius (story), Chris W. Mitchell, Suzy Quid
Actor(s): Patrick Baladi, Ben Batt, Charlotte Beaumont, Fiona Hampton, Tanroh Ishida
Duration: 85 mins