The title of a 201x horror film, made in the Netherlands, and straight-off-the-horse-stall-shovel to Netflix.
The premise of this film is that there is a haunted windmill.
That's right, a country most thought of for its scenic beauty, its wooden shoes, flatpack furniture, lingonberries, meatballs and death metal, Holland (I realize that most of the previous details are wrong, but I'm trying to make a point) isn't generally associated with creepy things. Unless you consider Amsterdam's red light district. So how English speaking audiences (I'd understand if this was subtitled but spoken in the original) are supposed to be scared by what amounts to what they've always been presented as a really pretty pastoral scene is beyond me. English speaking audiences aren't scared by windmills.
But hey, haunted patch of fuck all carved out of the ocean by dams and water pumping is even less scary, and I'm sure the original two ideas, haunted wooden shoes and haunted flurgenhorns didn't work out at the script level.
I know just how exactly the movie was put together. Someone had a mental image of a Grim Reaper with a scythe and said that'd be like really cool if he like butchered people out in the lonely wilderness of Holland. And then that was basically it. Some movies have been strung ENTIRELY around an image - one guy got a movie funded by commissioning an acrylic painting of two guys jousting in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in Road Warrior drag on motorcycles. Some sweaty short balding guy with a cigar pointed it at the painting and said "cut this guy a check". But given that really isn't enough to make a movie work, they tend to be direct-to-video.
So we then get to deal with the classic slasher movie problems. 1) how do you get the cannon fodder into the killing field, 2) how do you prevent them from calling 911, 3) how do you keep them from noticing that every few moments there's one less of them, and 4) well that's it really. The usual answers are: 1) woo! party out in the woods, 2) shit, there's no signal out here, 3) we're stoned and trying to screw each other, what was that noiseSHINK! THUD! SLICE!
This one uses the following: 1) Come and take a day trip out to see windmills, oh no, the bus won't start again 2) shit there's no service out here 3) because we're fucking clueless.
We establish the backstories of the various victims, and I couldn't be bothered to look up their real names because that would involve more effort than this film is worth. Takeshi, the Japanese whose name is the only one I actually heard in dialog, has decided to move to Amsterdam after abandoning an elderly grandmother dying from some horrible chronic painful disease. An Aussie girl working as a nanny I'll call "Sheila" is on the run after her employer wants to know why after he found her passport it had a different name from the one given and she brains him with a vase. A man I will call "Doctor Exposition" is simply drawing stuff in a museum, copying artwork. Mister Asshole, a stereotypical Angry Trump-like Businessman, is taking his kid to boarding school and decides to take the long way around via the windmills of Holland. "Butch", a Royal Marine, was in the red light district blindfolded and a girl took him into a room. There's also a model, Ruby, who was Big In Japan. Takeshi asks if she is the Whatever Japanese Product Toothpaste Lady, and she says yes, please don't remind me. The whole party is driven by an unshaven fat sweaty guy named "Abe" (Ah-beh), which must be Dutch for "Lou".
So they drive to a windmill, get out and look at it, and get back in the bus, oh shit, it won't start. Shiela goes to take a pill, shakingly, and she drops the pill bottle. It
rolls over to Doctor Exposition who picks it up, reads it, and hands it
Abe has no way of calling dispatch, and doesn't even try to. He just says eventually another bus will come, like, tomorrow so in the meantime let's all sit in the bus overnight.
Doctor Exposition remarks that the windmill isn't on their tourist map. Abe stares at him a second, goes "meh", and goes back to eating the sandwiches he's brought.
Sitting around for 24h sits poorly with literally everyone because for starters, they're all trying to get out of Holland for some reason. Turns out Butch got PTSD and decided to kill the hooker thinking this was some kind of First Blood Vietnamese torture session all the sudden, Shiela's on the run for torching her father alive in their trailer because he's a molesting bogan asshole, at first Mister Asshole wants to get his kid to school and then when the son cuts his hand, it's "uh, he's a haemophiliac and he didn't take his meds this morning". Nobody has any signal, and after a few hours Shiela and Butch decide to walk over to the mill they just toured to see if anyone's living there who has a phone. You know, the one they just toured and found nobody living there and no phone.
That's when some dude who looks like a cross between Death from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Oderus Urungus from Gwar, and Edvard Munch's "The Scream" shows up and cuts Butch in half at the ankles. And then buries the scythe in his head, stomping on his skull a few times and dragging the corpse back to the Scary Windmill. I made those comparisons for a point. I was more reminded of an 80s comedy film and a joke metal band than SATAN.
Shiela runs back to the bus babbling about some guy with a scythe and oh my God butch is dead. They're like DID HE TOUCH YOU WITH A BAD TOUCH OR SOMETHING and that's when Doctor Exposition leans over to Mister Asshole with literally the WORST stage whisper of all time and says "I FOUND HER PILL BOTTLE, SHE'S TAKING ANTI HALLUCINATION MEDICINE." Well done, absolutely everyone in the group heard it, including Sheila, whose next line is, "I'm not crazy". That gives you an idea of the kind of movie this is.
Something wet and bloody (Butch's skull) smacks into the bus leaving a blood print and the bus starts to tilt over to fall into the canal. They all rush out, and Shiela pushes the boy out to keep him from staying in the bus to get his bag. This causes him to tear his jacket, cut his hand, but NOT BE DEAD. Mister Asshole is livid and threatens to send her the bill. Then goes "oh, doctor Exposition, how do we stop a haemophiliac from bleeding?"
Not once do they decide to actually see what the fuck happened to the missing guy. Even though HIS DISEMBODIED HEAD JUST SMACKED OFF THE BUS GLASS, they think her story is some hallunicatory bullshit and eventually TIE HER UP.
Enroute to the mill, where they decide to take shelter, Takeshi notices a wicker Chinese antique wheelchair nearby and follows it. Because Japan, technologically advanced as it is, would bother with something as quaint as a mainland Asian wicker wheelchair. You start to get the feeling they're going to hang every Asian trope on this guy. One thing that's curious is that he speaks only Japanese to the crowd, even though only Ruby in theory should be able to follow what he says. Turns out most of them do and it's only one guy who doesn't, so they re-explain what was just said in subtitles to him for the illiterates in the audience. Again, Ruby was Big In Japan and probably picked up the lingo there. As to how a bogan teenager in a trailer park in rural Australia would learn enough to follow a guy babbling on rapidly about how they're near a Gate to Hell - fuck it, she just understands. As does the kid. The effect however is kind of like in The Cannonball Run II when Jackie Chan gives a very long monologue in Mandarin to which Dom DeLuise says something like "N'baya, kom-kom. He's right! We need to go after the shiek!" What is this, Doctor Who?
Anyway, turns out Death shows up again, but Takeshi accepts that any divine punishment for abandoning his grandmother is the Will of Heaven or something, so the guy lets him go. This is actually important later.
Meanwhile back at the shack, oh did I mention they find a tool shed and decide to stay there instead? Because the idea of going to the mill was it has lights and the blades are turning so someone with a phone might be there, but fuck it, here's a tool shed, let's hang out there. After a lot of "TIE THAT GIRL UP SHE'S A MENACE TO MY SON CRAZY GIRL ALMOST KILLED HIM" and Doctor Exposition going "you know, there's a legend about a windmill with a guy who sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for the secret of keeping the mill going even if there's no wind" and Abe goes "I heard about this one" and in the laziest exposition ever - okay, so there's this miller who sold his soul to the Devil. Someone finds a tooth in the flour, they realize human bones are in with the grains, they realize where all the disappearances have been coming from, lynch mob, pitchforks and torches etc. etc. But Satan likes the guy so much he gives him a Ghost Rider-like "go harvest the people who deserve to be in Hell" job and cool melty face to match, because nothing succeeds in your ability to approach people close enough to kill them with a hand to hand weapon than a face that looks like Davros.
They suddenly realize they're all guilty of something which is why they're there. Takeshi didn't want to watch Grandma die, Ruby slashed another woman's face open with a razor and she drowned herself, we know about Sheila torching her trailer, but now we learn that she took her kid brother out first, and in the 10 seconds it took her to turn back around towards the trailer, soak it in gasoline and ignite it, the kid woke up, got up, ran back into his own bed, and burned alive too. As for Mister Asshole, well, it turns out that he murdered the kid's mom, someone we never get to meet. We're expected to believe a shouty, misanthropic jerk that she "made his life hell" even though there's literally no evidence on or off screen that she was anything other than a saint.
And Abe's pissed, because there is an innocent amongst them, namely the kid. He's gonna have to kill the little bastard. He also stabs Takeshi as well, because after all Melty Face can't scythe through someone penitent, but he certainly can. Because, no witnesses. You see, how this whole thing works is, Satan needs to kill a girl from Australia to harvest her soul, so he has her run to Amsterdam, decide to escape the cops by running onto a coach going into the middle of nowhere, Holland, and have a sweaty guy in a Greek fisherman's cap hand-deliver her to a guy whose roaming radius is about 20 yards outside a windmill?
And did I mention before Takeshi dies he decides to have some kind of magic spell cast to ask the "ancestors" for help? None of this makes sense anymore, especially when he gets out Buddhist-like mala beads, starts scratching at them with a pencil, and chanting random Japanese words. Spoooooky spirits come out of the woodwork and stare at them, and then they get to see Melty Face's image glare at them, and then Takeshi decides well that was a cool visual effect, let's try just sitting around again.
The wife and I were in full MST3K mode by this point, riffing HARD.
Ruby drowns in a puddle, having stopped to look at her reflection when OH MY GOD A HAND COMES OUT OF IT AND DROWNS HER IN IT JUST LIKE THAT OTHER CHICK DROWNED GET IT. Doctor Exposition rants to empty space about the botched operation that killed someone wasn't his fault SHUNK oh okay, he's dead. So soon it's just Sheila and the kid and Abe, Abe trying to dissuade them from completing Takeshi's plan of siphoning gas out of the coach, and then using it to burn the windmill which, for reasons unknown, will end this horror.
It doesn't work. Abe goes "I'm in league with him all along" even though he foreshadowed that hard by VERY creepily rubbing the kid's head and going how he was going to have to take the kid's innocence. The kid's a teenager, that sounds more like "I'm going to rape your tiny little butthole when her back is turned" more than anything else, but the kid just chooses to look at Abe quizzically. He grabs Shiela, but the kid wakes up and shanks him, they leave the now burning windmill. For the record, Abe survives by noticing that his neck arteries are severed, and RUBS FLOUR ON THE WOUND.
You thought this was over? Just as how Shiela was like "it'll all work out" even though she's on the run, he's bleeding to death, there's no way out of the wilderness in the cold and dark and THUNK suddenly a hook on the end of a projectile chain goes through the back of her head, out her face, and drags her into the burning windmill, because Satan will have his due. Straight outta Mortal Kombat - "GET OVER HERE!" A weapon, for the record, that would have come in handy multiple times in the past when people were running from Melty Face, but fuck it, why not let them run for a while, right? Because this guy's paid by the hour, might as well let them live eight more hours, it's not as though Abe wouldn't like to get a good night's sleep or anything.
Abe is then seen driving back to Amsterdam to pick up more people.
But wait, Takeshi repented of his sins, the doctor killing that girl was an accident, the thing Shiela is truly tortured by was inadvertent, and we established that she basically killed an abusive dickhead in self-defense. In other words, none of them, according to any concept of guilt, would be culpable according to the rules established in the movie. Remember, once Takeshi accepted his guilt Satan couldn't take him (but he did after Abe killed him). Where was the guilt in an accident? But then again, this is the kind of movie that has a bunch of Royal Marines decide to take a buddy with serious enough PTSD to KILL SOMEONE, blindfold him, and have a hooker lead him into darkness, I mean, fuck it, literally, WHAT IS THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN. I could understand random drinking buddies welcoming him back from the front, but they established in the film these guys were THE REST OF HIS UNIT, and by definition they should KNOW BETTER.
And what the hell religion was Takeshi anyway? If his ancestor worship magic spell stuff was Shinto (and I don't remember them conjuring up the dead) why on earth would he be going on about a gate to Hell, considering that the concept of a judgmental punishing afterlife isn't IN Shinto? If he's Christian or Buddhist, the other two main choices on the island, what's the deal with the voodoo bullshit?
Would somebody please make this movie make ANY sense?
Anyway, it's there, it's up on Netflix, and it's good to watch with some friends to mock the ever loving shit out of.
(Note: NOT for Horrorquest)