Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #748
Also known as The Windmill
Number of Views: One
Release Date: September 26, 2016
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Running Time: 85 minutes
Director: Nick Jongerius
Producers: Eric Brenner, Nick Jongerius, Daniel Koefoed, Guirec van Slingelandt
Screenplay: Nick Jongerius, Chris W. Mitchell, Suzy Quid
Special Effects: Rick Wiessenhaan, Rob Hillenbrink, Erik Hillenbrink
Cinematography: Bart Beekman
Score: Erik Jan Grob
Editing: Jeffrey De Vore
Studios: ETA Films, Pellicola
Distributors: XLrator Media, Kaleidoscope Film Distribution
Stars: Charlotte Beaumont, Patrick Baladi, Adam Thomas Wright, Noah Taylor, Fiona Hampton, Ben Batt, Tanroh Ishida, Bart Klever, Kenan Raven, Derek Howard, Mattijn Hartemink, Edo Brunner
Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 André Hazes “Bloed, Zweet en Tranen”
 Butcher Babies “I Smell A Massacre”
Talk about a branding nightmare. When the feature debut of Dutchman Nick Jongerius first did the rounds, it was known as The Windmill Massacre. After careful consideration, it was then decided that the word “massacre” would only cheapen the product and it has since been shortened to The Windmill. I can see the predicament here as traditionally any movie not set in Texas that has opted to splash the M word across its cover art has turned out to be pretty slipshod. That said, the alternative title suggests more of a Merchant Ivory period drama than anything else so it would appear you’re either damned it you do or don’t. Being a shameless gore monger, I have to come clean as it was the M word that caught my attention in the first place. Having watched Jongerius’ film, I’m not altogether sure where I stand anymore as it has more going for it than your average bargain bin massacre.
Just as Eli Roth’s Hostel did absolutely no favors for the Slovakian tourist trade, The Windmill Massacre may make you less inclined to take that trip to the Netherlands you’ve been promising yourself for years. I should know as I’ve been desperate to visit Amsterdam for some time now and that has nothing whatsoever to do with the tulips. However, I’m no longer quite as fond of windmills, regardless of the energy they produce from renewable wind power or über-cool sound that their rotating sails make. The fact that Holland has plummeted my hot spot wanted list is quite the compliment to get us off and running with although I wouldn’t go getting too excited just yet. Keep your clogs on Grueheads as promise is only a good thing if fulfilled and this movie only takes us so far down the cycle trail.
Those up for being massacred are on the run Australian nanny Jennifer (Charlotte Beaumont), nervy Royal Marine Jackson (Ben Batt), young Japanese tourist Takeshi (Tanroh Ishida), ex-model photographer Ruby (Fiona Hampton), coke huffing disgraced doctor Nicholas (Noah Taylor), short-fused businessman Douglas (Patrick Baladi) and his haemophiliac son Curt (Adam Thomas Wright). Straight off the bat it is plain to see that this isn’t your everyday group of slasher lambs and a more cosmopolitan bunch would be tough to find. After the obligatory brief introductory vignettes, our tourists buckle in for a somewhat less than memorable coach trip of historic landmarks led by kindly but clueless tour guide Abe (Bart Klever). Needless to say, the wheels come off the bus so to speak, and we’re firmly in Hatchet territory from hereon in. It would appear there is nothing much to see here outside of some copious grue and perhaps a cool looking dispatch artist.
However this is where The Windmill Massacre strays from the well-trodden path a little. You see, it’s essentially all about punishing those well-kept sin secrets. Each of the seven passengers on this tour bus to hell have skeletons in their closet and their arrival at this ominous looking windmill (unmarked on any map for added trepidation) turns out to be far more than coincidental. One by one their demons are revealed, ordinarily a few seconds before a sickening squelch, and it then becomes all about whether they can find personal redemption before the dreaded Miller (Kenan Raven) calls time on their pitiful existences. It’s a novel twist, if not entirely original, adding a little more gravitas to proceedings than we may have been expecting up until this point. At any rate, if there were ever a good time for blabbing, then this would surely be it.
The reason for this is our scythe-wielding killer (and yes you did hear me squeal like an excitable hog), a hack first and ask questions later charred creeper of a man who doesn’t need a road map to materialize over your shoulder whenever he sees fit. He’s effectively The Grim Reaper in clogs and, when not cutting our sightseers down to size like lifeless crops, he’s using those same wooden shoes to compound some skull-caps. There can be no reasoning with the Miller, just doing your darnedest to remain outside his considerable swing range and nobody could claim that he doesn’t look the part. Once the sails of his mill squeak their sinister intent, it’s far too late for these sinners to repent. Atmosphere certainly isn’t at a premium here and there are other reasons to be fearfully cheerful also.
The entire cast put in as much of a shift as cruel fate affords them. Beaumont effortlessly earns our investment as the guilt-ravaged runaway, Wright reminds us of the potential he showed for Nick Murphy’s The Awakening, while actors of Noah Taylor’s caliber don’t attach their names to any old massacre and he has no intention of simply phoning in his turn. Another thing that Jongerius and fellow screenwriters Chris W. Mitchell and Suzy Quid get bang on the money is that a fair share of them were either justified in the actions they stand charged of or are genuinely remorseful for them. This elevates the film above being just another excuse to see hateful people pay the ultimate penance.
Suddenly the M word starts to feel a little superfluous to requirements and the game is there to be won at this point. Regrettably, The Windmill Massacre never quite makes the most of its middling concept and opts to punch through the motions in a reasonably uninspired manner. I know that may sound harsh, and believe me I’m torn here, but I was there for the taking and was left feeling just a tad underwhelmed come a conclusion which is admittedly rather devilish.
The reason why I’m struggling is that slasher badly needs itself a new poster boy and, with his festering flesh and sunken black eyes, the Miller fits the bill rather delightfully. This is no by-the-numbers search and destroy flick we’re talking of here, it’s an atmospheric little number that leaves us with more reasons to celebrate than deprecate and I just hope that it has done enough to find its following. Massacre or no massacre, it boasts more than enough schlocky high points for those seeking savage sin and punishment, and it just so happens I fit that particular demographic. Fingers crossed this is one Dutch export that goes double.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: Fill your clogs Grueheads as there’s one thing I’m not on the fence about and that is the profusion of splatter on the platter. The practical effects are more than up to snuff and the kills themselves are the kind Victor Crowley would no doubt tip his hat to (if he could fit one on that bulbous head of his that is). Body parts are hacked away without a second’s notice, innards spill out of cleaved open cavities, heads pop like champagne corks or are stamped down into mulch, and one of the true unsung tools of horror dispatch is provided one helluva workout. Hoera!
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
© Copyright: Rivers of Grue™ Shadow Spark Publishing™