Stars: Charlotte Beaumont, Patrick Baladi, Ben Batt, Fiona Hampton, Noah Taylor | Written by Suzy Quid, Chris W. Mitchell | Directed by Nick Jongerius
Massacre this, massacre that… Thanks to the infamy of Tobe Hooper’s now-classic 70s exploitation shocker The Texas Chainsaw Massacre it seems that we can’t escape a horrifying cinematic massacre… The latest film to share this horror moniker is The Windmill Massacre – an odd title, and an even odder location for a horror movie. But, to steal a much-maligned English idiom, don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, a film by it’s title.
The Windmill Massacre tells the story of Jennifer, an Australian girl on the run who – after having her secret discovered at the Amsterdam home she works at as a nanny – joins a coach load of tourists on an idyllic rural tour of Holland’s world-famous windmills. However when the bus breaks down Jennifer and the other tourists are stranded in the middle of nowhere, with only a disused building in the shadow of an eerie windmill in which to seek shelter. But, and this is a huge but, said windmill is part of Dutch urban folklore: the windmill was apparently used to grind the bones of locals as part of a Devil worshipping ritual… And the miller isn’t finished yet!
Going back to judging a book by its cover, at first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is another cliche-ridden slasher movie. Hell, it’s not more than 25 minutes into the film before the gore kicks in, and it’s kicks in big with a gruesome head-stomping shown in ALL it’s gory glory! And that’s only the tip of the grue-filled iceberg. It’s fair to say that The Windmill Massacre features some of the most outrageous effects work of recent memory – decapitations, dismemberment, disembowellings, it’s all here.
Yet for all the slasher movie trappings, there’s something greater at work in Nick Jongerius’s fear flick. Its villain, whilst using questionable methodology, is actually something of an avenging angel. You see this group of tourists have not just come together by chance, instead they have committed sins that they need to pay for – which brings a whole new angle on the traditional stalk and slash dynamic found in the genre. Here Jongerius and co. weave in ideas around spirituality, redemption, loss and remorse; much deeper themes that one would expect for such a gore-centric movie.
Ultimately, like all good horror, The Windmill Massacre is more than just a movie, it’s a reflection on society. A society that is self-centred and all about me, myself and I; a society that often offers people no consequences for there actions… unless of course you happen to come across the miller – because he’ll certainly make you pay.
If I had any qualms with the film it’s that it ends all too abruptly. I get that the filmmakers wanted to deliver an old-school 90 minutes or less fun ride of rights, but that swift a tale means that – although there is some character development early on in the film (we at least are introduced to the cast and their back stories are hinted at) – come the climax it all seems rushed. No sooner have the gang settled on a plan to defeat the miller than he’s done and dusted… Only for the sterotypical “you thought it was over” scene and the “the villains not finished” epilogue. It’s like everyone involved in the film didn’t know just how to satisfactorily end their story.
But then I know how hard it is to end things… Because I don’t know how to succinctly wrap up this review! It’s not that The Windmill Massacre is a bad film, far from it; it’s just that I can’t see it sticking in audiences mind long enough for it’s villain to become a franchise star – which is clearly the direction this is headed given the closing moments of the movie.
The Windmill Massacre is out now on DVD from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.