It’s been such a long time since slasher fans have been gifted a truly great addition to the sub-genre that a flick called The Windmill Massacre, in which the featured villain is THE MILLER (terrifying) might be seen to be rubbing salt in the wound. Happily, for those of us who cannot give up on masked killers stalking teens in far-flung areas, this is one of the best modern takes yet. Even more shockingly, it’s set in The Netherlands.
The setting is important, because The Windmill Massacre is a very Dutch movie, from a Dutch team (the guys behind the dreadful Frankenstein’s Army). Windmills figure prominently – children draw them, adults paint and photograph them – and Amsterdam is shot lovingly. The outskirts of the bustling city, where most of the action takes place, look otherworldly, as though the characters have hopped on a tour bus to another planet.
There are a lot of different people aboard that bus, which means the body count should be (and thankfully is) quite high. Although a few of them are disposable–one looks like a poor man’s Michael Fassbender, another like a poor man’s Ben Mendelsohn–and Final Girl Jenny (Brit actress Charlotte Beaumont, of Eastenders fame) is a bit of a drip, at least at first, it makes it more fun watching each of them being picked off one by one.
When we first meet her, Jenny (who has past trauma with her father because of course she does) is working as an au pair. When she’s caught in a lie, she boards the aforementioned tour bus to escape the police. The vehicle breaks down in the middle of nowhere, everyone on-board is stranded and we learn roadside assistance won’t be coming because they’re too far out. The decision is soon made to take refuge in a nearby windmill.
Confusingly, it doesn’t appear on any maps, but don’t worry, “the miller will help us”. The first hint of the killer is simply chains rattling and a dark figure in the trees. The first kill is bloody, brutal and gory–the victim’s legs are cut off with a scythe before his head is pummelled into mush by some seriously metal-head clogs (Jon Davis could pull them off). It’s a brilliant introduction to a killer with a silly name who, regardless, means serious business.
The Windmill Massacre slips into cliché slightly, by having the other characters assume Jenny is crazy and off her meds because she’s the only one who can, supposedly, see The Miller. But this turn allows for some seriously well-placed scares, disgustingly inventive murders and plenty of expertly-judged, but not overpowering, moments of humour. It’s the perfect recipe for a slasher movie and the killer’s mythology, although slightly goofy, is considered and clever.
He might be cursed with that name, but The Miller is a formidable villain. He sounds heavy and large, while his powers are never quite clear–without spoiling anything, let’s just say he can’t be killed with a simple knife to the chest. There’s a suggestion that he guards the gateway to Hell, and the characters therefore spend much of the film battling with physical manifestations (hallucinations, mostly, leading to death) of past mistakes.
The gore is terrific throughout, and nicely thick and practical (the idea of a character trying to put his/her own guts back in cannot be overdone and should feature in more movies of this nature). It’s closest, arguably, to Adam Green’s fantastically schlocky Hatchet series, but The Windmill Massacre stakes a claim for The Miller as a recurring villain in his own right. After all, his windmill is powered by blood, so he’ll always need more fuel.
There was a sense that slashers had gone out of fashion, with paranormal features (snore) taking centre-stage over the past few years. It’s great to see a real, old-school flick of this nature, lovingly made and presented, with a real understanding of how these movies operate and why they were so popular in the first place. The Windmill Massacre might sound a bit naff, but it’s anything but throwaway. Bring on the slasher resurgence.
WICKED RATING: 8/10
Director(s): Nick Jongerius
Writer(s): Nick Jongerius, Chris W. Mitchell, Suzy Quid
Stars: Noah Taylor, Patrick Baladi, Charlotte Beamount, Ben Batt
Studio/ Production Co: Pellicola
Length: 85 minutes