Written and directed by Nick Jongerius, The Windmill, aka ‘The Windmill Massacre,” is no Amsterdammed. This is no taut thriller dressed up like an 80’s cop/horror film. Jongerius gives us what could be construed as a loving homage to those ’60’s and ’70’s Hammer horror films. Classics like “The Vault of Horror” or Dr. Terror’s House of Horror, for example, where the cast all find they have died and are about to meet their just deserts, are given a nod here.
A disparate group of foreigners, a few Brits, an Aussie, a French woman and a Japanese man on a mission, all take a “Happy Holland” tour of local windmills. Unlike the anthology films of the ”70’s, these victims are not overly heavy with an abundance of backstory. This is no in-depth retelling of their various peccadilloes that have landed them in this predicament.
We get flashes of their “sins” but that is all. (Except for Jennifer – Brit actress Charlotte Beaumont who plays a murderer from “Down Under” – who has quite a bit of backstory presented in fits and starts.) There is no real location given in the film, although we get the impression that the events are unfolding in and around Amsterdam.
Abe, the driver, takes his charges to at least one windmill and then on the way to another, the bus breaks down. The group narrowly escape getting injured when the vehicle falls into a canal and later on, after an abortive attempt at finding help, they all walk to another windmill off the road.
Before the reach the windmill, they find an abandoned structure that is filled with old papers. One of the papers tells of a story where a miller sells his soul to the devil. Shortly after, a very big man with a scythe and great huge wooden clogs on his feet makes an appearance.
As the tourists begin to die, the Japanese man decides that they are at the gate of hell and that he must perform a sort of exorcism.
The film itself is nothing to really get too excited about but it works, after a fashion, and we manage to get caught up in the Australian girl’s story.
While this is not an anthology theme, per se, it does feel like one. Enough so that one is thrown immediately into Hammer territory. The Dutch actor who plays Abe (Bart Klever) performs his part well and later on the film itself gives us a satisfying O.Henry type twist.
(Hammer also specialized in these sort of endings, although each anthology managed to turn the story in its protagonist as well.)
For those who have been to Holland and seen the windmills, the tale of the devil’s miller makes a certain amount of sense. Those wooden towers with their creaking blades do seem a bit creepy and the setting in this film is spot on.
Jongerius gives us a taste of horror that borders on the religious. (Each “victim” is a sinner who did something horrible to someone else, in most cases murder, and are now going to pay the piper for their previous transgressions.)
The Windmill Murders is a solid four star film. The effects are, for the most part, practical and work very well. The movie was filmed in and around Loenen, in The Netherlands, and as a location the area was perfect for the storyline.
There were a few odd moments, for example the hookers at the small red-light district were actually not in their windows at all but standing in the doorway, and the milled flower flowing down the chute was behind glass, like a tourist mill, but apart from these instances the film flowed well.
It is on Netflix at the moment and is well worth a look. It won’t give you nightmares but it will make you jump here and there. There is a certain amount of bloodshed and a decapitation. There is no nudity and not one sex scene.
Check out the trailer below and then head over to watch this Dutch homage to Hammer anthology horror.