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THE WINDMILL MASSACRE (October 27th)


YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...

I've always loved slasher movies. Halloween and Scream remain two of my favourite horror movies of all time to this day and in fact it was the latter that really got me properly into the genre, when I first saw it aged 12. I loved that film so much that I promptly bought the scream mask and found great joy in hiding in wardrobes and behind doors and jumping out on my little sister, who was far from impressed, as you'd imagine. There's something about slasher movies that I just dig. I love the high body counts, the inventive kills, the whodunit element, the inevitable showdown between the killer and the final girl. Slashers are like my go-to comfort viewing. However modern slasher movies aren't really being made in any great quantity nowadays. Hell Fest is one that we viewed the other day – and that counts as a slasher for sure. You're Next and Hush are both decent recent efforts too. Happy Death Day and it's follow up are also flying the slasher flag as well. One that I was aware of but have missed up until now is the European indie The Windmill Massacre (also just known as The Windmill). European slasher's are even more rare than North American ones so this felt like even more of a rare treat...

The first ten minutes of The Windmill sees us introduced to an array of characters (I'm never a fan of this technique) but the central focus here is Jenny – a young Australian runaway who has just been rumbled by her employer. To get out of the city (Amsterdam) and avoid being apprehended by the authorities, she gets on to a tour bus (with all the other characters we've just been introduced to) that is headed outside the city to look at something else that Holland is famous for, besides liberal laws on drugs and sex. Windmills. Unfortunately the tour bus breaks down on the way back. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no phone signal (natch) and with night approaching, they decided to seek shelter in a nearby windmill. Mysteriously though, the windmill doesn't appear on any map and to compound this, the rattling of chains and dark figure hiding amongst the trees suggests that they might not be alone...

I really wanted to like The Windmill Massacre – and there are indeed things to admire about it. Unfortunately it drops the ball on several occasions and never actually really commits to being a full on slasher movie either, which is doubly disappointing. The set up is well done and feels a bit old school, spending time with a set of characters as events gradually conspire against them and put them directly in harms way. Like In the Tall Grass, the best part of The Windmill Massacre is the first thirty minutes where we speculate as to what the negative force may be. But in the same way, the more we find out, the less interesting it becomes.

The decision to make the lead character a rather unreliable narrator makes things suitably paranoia inducing. She's off her meds (her troubled past is frequently referenced) and so the others (and ourselves) wonder if what she is seeing is actually real. It adds an extra level of tension. Also the violence and gore here is pretty extreme at times (it is an 18 rating for a reason) and the first death scene in particular, which involves a scythe and then some head squishing is gloriously bloody. But the death scenes all feel a little repetitive. Each character has some secret shame or guilt that they are hiding and basically every action set piece involves a character wandering off by themselves and facing up to their past and having to answer for their 'crimes'. It's all a bit As Above So Below (which we liked quite a bit) but it does affect things here in a negative way because instead of feeling that our dysfunctional set of characters are being hunted by something, they pretty much all just end up walking out on their own into the woods to meet their fate. Most of them don't even resist it. It all feels a bit too inevitable.

It's a shame because the killer, known as The Miller, is a pretty bad ass looking mofo – and the mythos that surrounds him is suitably sound too. He could be Victor Crowley's cousin or something. In fact, the film feels a bit 'Hatchet-y' but lacks the humour and sense of cat and mouse that made that film so endearing. Director Nick Jongerius gives the film an eerily effective aesthetic too and the flat rural Dutch setting makes for a cool backdrop to the mayhem too. However, as the film ventures into 'supernatural' territory in the final act it loses its way somewhat and the ending makes little sense either. Nice to see a slasher try something different but I think I'll stick with Michael Myers and Ghostface for the foreseeable future...

#31days2019

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