Moloch - New Release Review
Director: Nico van den Brink
Starring: Sallie Harmsen, Anneke Blok, Johan Fretz, Fred Goessens, Markoesa Hamer
Written by: Daan Bakker, Nico van den Brink
Produced by: Sabine Brian, Ronald Versteeg
Cinematography by: Emo Weemhoff
Original Score by: Ella van der Woude
When she and her family are attacked by a random stranger one night, Betriek sets out to find an explanation and soon becomes convinced that she is being hunted by something ancient.
If there's one thing that horror films have taught us it's that you should never fuck around with ancient folklore.
In this Dutch folk horror, young widow Betriek and her daughter have moved back to her childhood home and their lives are soon disrupted by a team of archeologists digging holes in a nearby peat bog. A well preserved woman's corpse is dug up and what makes it even more creepier is that the woman's throat has been slit in a gruesomely similar fashion to that of Betriek's grandmother, who was murdered many years prior.
This is the feature film debut of writer/director Nico van den Brink and he should be applauded for bringing such an atmospheric and haunting folk tale to fruition. Its gorgeously filmed with beautifully striking lighting, particularly those scenes shot in the dead of night bathed in gloomy shadows. Unfortunately the film just takes way too long to get going that it makes it difficult to sustain any intrigue. The first half of the film sadly felt laborious to get through even though the total runtime is only 98 mins.
There's an awful lot of time spent with Betriek and the manager of the dig site, who are taking their time to get to know each other and this serves as a method of explaining Betriek's emotional state and how the dig is resurfacing old memories. One memory is that of her murdered grandmother, which we witness (we don't actually see it happening, we just hear the noise and the dripping blood) in the opening scene, which inevitably becomes interwoven with the events of the present day.
Sallie Hamsen is great as leading lady Betriek and all the supporting cast are on decent form, there's just no stand out and nothing that really makes this is a unique horror film. There's a great sequence featuring a home invasion that is terrifying and brutal but beyond that most of the film relies on classic Hammer-style mist filled shots of the exterior Dutch landscapes, which are easy on the eye but get a tad repetitive and don't always lead to anything.
'Moloch' is definitely worth a watch and on the surface there is nothing overtly wrong with it. As with most films about tales of ancient folklore, it oftentimes involves a sacrifice and the finale to 'Moloch' does serve up something relatively shocking but as the credits rolled I felt myself wanting more and feeling dissatisfied.
- Gavin Logan
'Moloch' is available to stream on Shudder July 21st