The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder] - MOLOCH | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder] - MOLOCH

moloch review
An archaeological dig unearths an ancient evil in rural Holland.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Nico van den Brink

Starring: Sallie Harmsen, Alexandre Willaume, Anneke Blok, Fred Goessens

moloch poster

Having mined Christian mythology for all its worth over several decades, horror filmmakers have recently begun to turn to the creepier Jewish legends for inspiration. We've seen a ton of movies featuring the dybbuk, and now it's the turn of that other malicious entity the moloch to take centre stage in director Nico van den Brink's supernatural thriller of the same name.

moloch review

While it has its roots in Hebrew lore, the moloch became popular in continental Europe over the centuries. It's in a remote corner of the Netherlands that this particular variation on the theme plays out. In a 1991 set prologue we see young Betriek (Sallie Harmsen) hide in a cellar as the blood of her butchered grandmother drips through the floorboards above her. Three decades later and the killer has never been caught, and the locals believe Betriek's family has been cursed. Her own husband died from a surprise heart attack, leaving her to raise their daughter. Betriek's father (Fred Goessens), a retired cop, spends his days drinking in the basement and his nights awake awaiting the return of the killer, while her mother (Anneke Blok) is slowly succumbing to an illness that defies doctors.

When a homeless man is found dead, having dug a pit in a local bog, Betriek's family find themselves on edge once again. Meanwhile an archaeological crew has unearthed the well preserved corpses of several women in said bog, all of varying generations. When one of the diggers turns psychotic and attempts to murder Betriek, she begins to believe the curse is about to strike once more.

moloch review

Broken down to its core elements, Moloch is a rather clichéd retread of folk-horror staples. But thanks to some convincing performances, chiefly from the sadly charismatic Harmsen, we find ourselves invested in its very human characters, which gives it an edge over most of its genre rivals. Van den Brink does a good job of establishing a sense of place, with the small, fog-shrouded Dutch village resembling the hamlet Holmes and Watson travel to in various cinematic adaptations of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'.

With creepy human and non-human villains appearing out of the fog, Moloch owes a visual debt to Carpenter and Fulci, but more than any cinematic predecessors, van den Brink's film harks back to the pulpy 1980s horror novels of British writers like James Herbert and Shaun Hutson. There's even a very '80s improbable sex scene between our seemingly doomed heroine and a Danish archaeologist (Alexandre Willaume). The latter does his best to save Betriek from her seemingly impending fate, but in a very Northern European way she's decided to accept that she may be cursed. This makes for an interesting conflict within Betriek as we root for her to finally catch herself on and make some effort to change her destiny for the better.

moloch review

Moloch's scares are most effective when the threats are kept in the shadows and fog. When we get a proper look at the titular demon it looks a little too much like the desiccated space vampires of Tobe Hooper's much maligned Lifeforce, an unwelcome interjection of CG in an otherwise practical movie. A fog machine and Harmsen's expressive face provide far more production value than any series of ones and zeroes could accomplish.

 is on Shudder from July 21st.

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