Slasher tropes head for Holland in The Windmill Massacre, a well-intentioned throwback where a seemingly disparate group of tourists are terrorised in the Dutch countryside by a demonic, scythe-wielding entity. As with many films of its kind, the set-up is a little exhausting, and while there’s a tendency towards over-explanation that dents its momentum at some key intervals, it deserves credit for trying to flesh out its broad cast of characters.
Much of this attempted character development happens in the film’s first act, and some backstories land better than others. The mystery surrounding the background of protagonist Jennifer (Charlotte Beaumont), for instance, gives the opening scene some real dramatic and narrative heft. However, while the question of who or what she’s running from is a genuinely interesting one, not every story behind each character has the same level of intrigue. The chronically one-dimensional negligent parent Douglas (Patrick Baladi) falls particularly short in this department, and by the time everyone is on board the ill-fated tourist bus headed out of the city to find “the real Holland”, the desire for The Windmill Massacre to shift gears is overpowering.
And shift gears it does. As the tourists disappear one by one at the hands of the mysterious Miller, the film hits most of its highs as the blood starts to flow. However, what should be a solid burst of momentum ultimately stumbles: while there’s fun to be hand learning the dark secrets from each character’s past, the third act feels overstuffed with plot machinations, and as a result there’s a feeling that The Windmill Massacre never fully hits its stride. It scores points for its attempt to bring some depth to a genre not known for it, but ultimately what works in theory falters slightly in execution.
The Windmill Massacre is out now on DVD and VOD in the UK. Watch the trailer here.