The Windmill Massacre (2016)
★ / ★★★★
Nick Jongerius’ “The Windmill Massacre” is exactly the kind of horror movie that shouldn’t exist anymore—not after slasher pictures have ruled the screens in the ‘70s and ‘80s, fallen in the early ‘90s, and satirized in smart ways in the mid-‘90s to early-‘00s. And if it were to exist, at least make it good by crafting genuinely suspenseful moments, establishing characters we care about eventually, and building a mythology that is curious and worthy of our time.
Instead, what we sit through is yet another tired haunted house formula in which characters from different wakes of life end up coming together in a particular place, only to be picked off one by one by a scythe-wielding assailant wearing a bad makeup job. Although the setting is inspired since killing sprees do not usually take place in or around windmills, the writing is anemic in intrigue. It attempts to tell a mythology involving a man who made a deal with the devil more than century ago but it goes nowhere fast. The most unpredictable part of the film is perhaps the order in which characters get butchered. There is no joy to be had here.
Similar to other bad horror movies, the filmmakers make the common mistake of substituting sudden loud music for genuine, well-earned thrills. They are so lazy, so uninspired, they think that a figure appearing seemingly out of nowhere is the punchline, not what the antagonist does or what motivates him, her, or it. Notice, too, there is a lack of build-up, resulting in highly disjointed scenes where one scene shows violence and the scenes poorly placed in between involve characters arguing over what to do next in order to extract themselves out of an increasing dire situation. Such a disruption of the action does not help in elevating tension.
One gets the impression that the writers—Nick Jongerius, Chris W. Mitchell, and Suzy Quid—have not seen a single effective horror picture in their lives. That or they are so afraid of willing to take a risk that they’d rather step on the same footprints of horror films that came before. Horror films without inspiration and lacking the will to innovate are most unbearable to experience. Because if we are ahead of it the entire time, then what is the point of sitting down and watching the film? It is insulting to the intelligence and time of its audience.
Although the performances are average across the board, they are not to be blamed for the script’s lack of creativity. Clocking in at approximately eighty-five minutes, experiencing it feels significantly longer, like punishment, when conversations are repeated time and again, the only difference being the words expressed to say the same thing.