Dutch horror in peat mist

Nico van den Brink is a director with a mission. With his first feature film Moloch He has taken it upon himself to give a new impetus to the genre of films in Holland. And successfully. Moloch It is a huge step forward in the genre that has become affectionately known as nederror or polderhor horror. Van den Brink (1986) and co-writer Dan Bakker (who caused a stir with the experimental five-part Millennium quality time ) inspired by regional stories about White Wieven and swampy bodies. It fits seamlessly into the international trend of popular horror, given a modern twist on regional stories and legends. Just think about the success of the American-Swedish co-production Midsmar From a few summers. Moloch He is a successful combination of Robert Eggers the witch (2015) and Ari Aster’s film Midsummer Party (2019), A Midsmar in the fog.

Also read the “Midsommar” review: From eerie to horrific in bright daylight

The film takes us to an uncharted village in the misty peat bogs of eastern Holland. Musician Bertik (Sally Harmson) lives with her mother and daughter in a forest house that has been in the family for many years, according to the pictures on the walls. Guys are absent from these photos. They are always the same horoscopes of three generations: grandmothers, mothers and (good) daughters. Few horror fans already know enough. It’s been a mess here for generations.

Like many folkloric creatures, the White Wieven can be both gentle and evil, like witches in fairy tales representing wisdom and evil. City and Territory Stories (which can be found entirely online) contains dozens of regional variations on stories about these ghostly creatures that would have emerged from the mist banks that rose from the wetland in the evening. Also in the film is a photogenic phenomenon.

Van den Brink and Bakker took a smart approach. There is a village legend about a rejected land lady and an alleged witch. There are pre-Christian rituals and sacrifices. There is a stranger in the image of a Danish researcher. There is a hiss in the night. And there’s something that few horror watchers or amateur psychologist know more than anyone: When you start digging, things pop up. And this is not just swampy bodies.

The movie is also a psychological drama, with the supernatural being a metaphor for everyday fears. Maternity, intergenerational trauma and transmission. Moreover, there is a sense of humor: Jennifer’s jug is always on the table. Can’t get much more Dutch. And the privacy in that region lies its strength.

So their movie has huge potential for crossover, and can also appeal to non-horror fans. It’s scary enough, and it has enough jitters and twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. At the same time, the goal is not to take you down a horror maelstrom of influences, but to really invest in its story and characters.

He has a typical Dutch flaw: the tendency to want to explain a lot. The advantage of a genre movie is that so many conventions have evolved over the years, both in terms of narration and visuals, that you can use dialogue for subtext, especially because in Moloch Visually enough.

ghost dogs

By the way, it is not easy to make genre films in the Low Countries. It is often said that the audience is too small, and the costs are too high because few horror or fantasy films rarely seem to do without realistic monsters, special effects, and accompanying visuals. We have a small horror tradition and a large group of loyal advocates who periodically try to revive the genre.

Regional stories can be the key to this. It is sometimes said that the more distinctive films from small film cultures are, the better their international appeal. Plus, with all those myths about plagues and water spirits, ghost dogs and enchanted castles, and dreams of fever and wild hunts racing across the sky during thunderstorms, we have a whole arsenal of potential stories.

There are also some precursors. Johnson (1992) by Rudolf van den Berg also had some popular horror features due to its setting in Biesbosch. Jose Stilling’s Impossible Ghost Story Pictures Flying Dutchman (1995). Recently, Chris Mitchell let in Swimming pool (2014) A murderous ghost from a forest pond overwhelms a family during a camping trip. There are enough bubbles in the subconscious of Holland.

All the filmmakers have to do is stand guard like real ghost hunters to film the right weather conditions and natural phenomena. The suggestion does the rest. There is enough material for the Lowland version of the successful ten seasons series of true stories of “American Horror Story.”

The fact that Nico van den Brink is inspired not only by regional stories, but also by another Dutch tradition forgotten in the film, the magical-realistic literature of Hubert Lambeau and Belcambo, makes us curious about his next work.

After James Wan and Sam Raimi obtained the co-production rights for his short films sweet tooth (2017) and the burden (2019) The latter was announced on the IMDb movie database, and it is hoped that Van den Brink returns after his American adventure as a Dutchman with a contract for the anthology series that he dreams of having a ‘Dutch Horror Story’ in his pocket.

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