Film Review: The Windmill

A group of tourists gets more local color than they paid for in this bus-mounted body-count movie with a supernatural twist.
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Australian Jennifer (Charlotte Beaumont) boards a Dutch tour bus bound for a picturesque old windmill with some spooky history, but she's no ordinary tourist. She's on the run from her past, which most recently includes a felonious assault on the employer who discovered that she wasn't who she claimed to be when he hired her as a nanny—the first of many allusions to parents and children, and a hint as to the real reason Jennifer is a fugitive.

Other passengers include bullying businessman Douglas West (Patrick Baladi) and his adolescent son Curt (Adam Thomas Wright), a hemophiliac; former model Ruby (Fiona Hampton); hot-tempered Royal Marine Jackson (Ben Batt); doctor Nicholas Cooper (Noah Taylor) and high-strung Takashi (Tanroh Ishida), who gets to evoke the ghost of Japanese ghost stories past when he refers to the windmill as "jigoku," a gate of hell and the inspiration for Teinosuke Kinugasa's Palme d'Or-winning 1953 film Jigokumon. To be honest, none of the passengers seem much like the sightseeing type, and none have much spirit of adventure when it comes to camping out in the creepy windmill when the bus breaks down and driver Abe (Bart Klever) proves completely useless.

Director/co-writer Nick Jongerius wastes no time getting down to business: Jackson gets his skull crushed in the woods by a clog-clad maniac and lone witness Jennifer is quickly discredited because she's on anti-psychotic meds. In fact, she quickly becomes the prime suspect... never mind that remarkably well-preserved old manuscript that tells the story of evil miller Hendrick, who sold his soul to Satan and paid tribute with human sacrifices whose bones were ground into flour.

Points to Jongerius and co-writer Chris W. Mitchell for coming up with an unusual location for an otherwise conventional genre story dressed up with creative kills; the only other windmill-related horror movie I can think of is the Belgian/Italian Mill of the Stone Women, which was made 50+ years ago. But that aside, The Windmill is formulaic stuff that strongly recalls 1971's The Devil's Nightmare, another finger-wagging lesson in reaping what you sow wherein a busload of tourists dies for their sundry sins. The takeaway appears to be that straightening up and flying right is an exercise in futility. Even being truly sorry for your past transgressions won't save you from booking a ticket on the bus of the damned.

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