For a brief time, it almost seems as if Nick Jongerius' first feature, The Windmill, aspires to follow in the footsteps of Martin McDonagh's In Bruges as it weaves some sublime moments of European travelogue into a clever genre film. But after some Amsterdam-set introductions of the main characters and a few loving shots of the canals that keep the Netherlands above water, Jongerius lowers his sights to a more by-the-book spookshow. A countryside tour bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, within sight of a windmill that isn't on the map. The tourists — well delineated by a cast that includes Broadchurch's Charlotte Beaumont and Peaky Blinders' Noah Taylor — are mostly strangers to one another, and some head off alone to seek help (never a good idea).
When people start disappearing, trust issues blossom — and pretty much everyone on the bus has a dark secret, past misdeeds that they relive in ghastly hallucinations (which aspire to, but never quite reach, the punishment-fits-the-crime fun of The Abominable Dr. Phibes). The film toys with the idea of grace — can a sinner escape damnation by genuine repentance? — but Jongerius ultimately is most interested in the least compelling element, a lurking fiend with a scythe. Don't fear the reaper, fear the game.
Nick JongeriusNoah Taylor, Patrick Baladi, Charlotte Beaumont, Ben Batt, Tanroh IshidaNick JongeriusXLrator Media