Basically The Windmill Massacre (aka simply The Windmill) is Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Whatevers relocated as a slasher to – you guessed it – a windmill in the Netherlands, with enough of a budget to afford some recognisable faces, even if the names won’t immediately spring to mind.
Six strangers, and the son of the angriest one, board a bus bound for a tour of the low country’s most iconic attractions, after a fairly lengthy preamble in which we’re introduced to each of them in turn. But before long, the bus breaks down ... and you can pretty much guess what happens next.
Dutch writer/director Nick Jongerius’ first feature is competently made and achieves most of the goals it sets itself, however it is hampered by a lack of ambition and a willingness to settle for a certain standard rather than pushing the envelope and aiming somewhat higher. The prologue, for instance, establishes just enough about each of the protagonists for us to understand their place in the story, without giving us nearly enough to make us care. There’s a very telling moment just after the bus breaks down, when we suddenly jump cut to after darkness has fallen rather than staying with the characters and learning anything about them; the film trusts us to believe they would just sit there for several hours until the next intersection in the plot arrives, rather than taking a proactive role in solving their predicament.
And that’s the issue; despite a number of good performances, nobody here feels real enough that any of the subsequent twists feel like they matter. Instead, The Windmill Massacre is an exercise in joining the dots to the point at which the plot is played out, and the characters’ limited trajectories are exhausted. There is plenty of fun to be had in the sequence of ostensibly imaginative killings, and the film is certainly entertainingly bloody, but the final twist and the resolution to the question of why the six strangers have been brought here to be bumped off, is far too indifferently developed and not nearly well disguised enough to be remotely either surprising or satisfying.
If Jongerius had taken his time and rounded his characters out, he could have evoked the creepy atmosphere of a Seven or an Alien; if he’d taken a more unconventional route, The Windmill Massacre might have been freakish like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And if he had a sense of humour, this might have been closer to The Evil Dead, or even Severance. As it is, this is a film that passes the time agreeably enough, but the most you’ll really take from it is a series of “That’s the bit where X happens.”
Special Features: Director’s commentary / B-roll / Short ‘EPK’ / Trailer
THE WINDMILL MASSACRE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: NICK JONGERIUS / SCREENPLAY: NICK JONGERIUS, CHRIS W. MITCHELL, SUZY QUID / STARRING: CHARLOTTE BEAUMONT, NOAH TAYLOR, PATRICK BALADI, ADAM THOMAS WRIGHT, TANROH ISHIDA, FIONA HAMPTON, BEN BATT, BART KLEVER / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 3RD