An unusually slick and well-acted slasher picture, the Dutch-made "The Windmill" brings a touch of class to a typically brutish genre. Director Nick Jongerius can't entirely keep the story from feeling warmed-over, but fans should be too pleased by the movie's professionalism to complain much.
A strong international cast (which includes Noah Taylor, Charlotte Beaumont and Ben Batt) plays a group of tourists. Each signs up for a bus excursion to escape some trouble in the recent past. When the vehicle breaks down at night in the middle of nowhere, the group is stalked and slaughtered by a towering supernatural creature.
Originally called "The Windmill Massacre," the film has lost the last word of its title on the way to a U.S. release, perhaps to keep it from sounding too much like the grubby B-picture that it is at heart. Though the plot is of the straightforward line 'em up and knock 'em down variety, the tone is more elevated.
Jongerius positions his monster's victims as sinners due for a reckoning. Between the gory kills, "The Windmill" flashes back periodically to reveal how these characters ended up in the Dutch countryside, facing the business end of a scythe. The movie means to deliver a deeper message about divine justice.
Well, sort of. Mostly "The Windmill" is about watching some morally shaky people die horribly. But they do it with such dramatic gravitas that their inevitable eviscerations seem almost profound.
Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood