The Windmill (2016) – Horror Movie Review- Free on Netflix

 

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By Melissa Antoinette Garza

It seems like only yesterday that I was perusing the aisles of local video stores hoping to rent horror movies that were worth the watch.  I’d read the back, look at the cover, put it down and pick it back up again before making my decision.

Back then, when it was a miss there wasn’t a thousand other to choose from.  Whatever you spent the $10.00 on was how you were going to spend your night or weekend, regardless of how awful the production was.

Now in the days of streaming services like NETFLIX, we have so many choices, but that isn’t always a good thing.  The horror market is saturated with found-footage, torture porn, and paranormal films that all look and feel like the same crappy movie. The characters have no depth, the screenplay lacks a story, the actors don’t know how to act and often the whole thing seems like an ad-libbed mess.

That isn’t to say that the industry is dead.  Occasionally, there’s a shining star among them.  On the surface alone, THE WINDMILL (2016) looked good.  The plot was intriguing, the locations were atmospheric and the killer had a cool original look to him.

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The movie follows a busload of passengers, each holding onto a secret and attempting to get the hell out of Dodge (in this case, Dodge is Amsterdam).   When the group gets stuck in the middle of nowhere and the cell phones seize to work, everyone gets on edge.

 

Our protagonist, Jennifer (Charlotte Beaumont) is painfully close to a mental breakdown and is pushed further to the edge by Douglas (Patrick Baladi) a pompous arrogant father who has his hemophiliac teenage son Curt (Adam Thomas Wright) with him.  When Curt suffers a bad hand wound, Douglas becomes even more unreasonable and puts all the blame on Jennifer.

The group leave the bus and take cover in a shed behind a windmill.  Takashi Kido (Tanroh Ishida) a man in his 20s, who only speaks Japanese, gets lured away from the rest.  He encounters the paranormal beast who messes with his mind and makes him relive his most shameful choices.

When Kido finds the others, he tries to offer guidance about the monster and confides that redemption can only come from sincere regret.  Thankfully, model Ruby (Fiona Hampton) speaks a little Japanese and can translate for the rest of the group.

One by one, each person is brought face-to-face with the reason they were trying to escape.  Depending on the way they react, the demon would come after them.  As the survivors look for a way out, the death toll rises and it becomes clear that the demon isn’t working alone.

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Overall, the structure and devices used in THE WINDMILL (2016) were successful in building suspense and intrigue. The first half-hour is devoted to learning a little bit about each character and offering hints as to why they want to leave so desperately.  More movies need to do this as it gives insight into the mindset, motivation and actions of all involved.

The cast was chosen well.  I’ve always loved thrillers that focus on a group of people that are forced to work together yet lack commonalities.  CIRCLE (2015), DEMONS (1985), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), CUBE (1997) are all great examples of how this formula works.  When the proper actors are cast, the tension of a horror production is heightened when there are conflicting personalities between strangers who need to work together.  THE WINDMILL utilized this familiar trope to its advantage by having a great cast and characters who expressed themselves in ways that built turmoil in an already tumultuous situation.

My only major issue is the conclusion.  It’s both predictable and lazy which is irritating because so much thought was put into the rest of the film.  I wonder if there was a different ending and the powers-that-be wanted it left open, so they reshot something that would sell better.  Either way, it was a disappointment.

Still, I suggest watching it as it delves into supernatural, theistic, and spiritual elements that are molded together brilliantly.

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Scared Stiff Rating:  7/10