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John’s Horror Corner: Moloch (2022), a sleepy Scandinavian folk horror about the whispers of a long dead bog witch.

August 23, 2022

MY CALL:  This film is slow and interesting, but more boring than slowburn as it never quite musters the degree of dread desired for an effective horror experience. Not bad, but not necessarily recommended unless you are all about folk or folklore horror.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  Frankly, I think you all should just go watch The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) instead. And for the folk vibes you were looking for, go for The Apostle (2018).

This patient film introduces us to Betriek (Sallie Harmsen) and her quirky family, which includes her daughter, husband, and elderly parents. Their rural Netherlands home resides near a bog, where two recent events transpire within a day—the unearthing of a well-preserved but long dead woman, and the death by hypothermia of a local homeless man in hole he had curiously dug nearby.

As some locals begin acting strangely (including a strange home invasion and attack on Betriek’s family), a visiting investigator (Alexandre Willaume; Deliver Us from Evil, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) is taught the local superstition—folklore about “whispers” from the bog and the legend of Feike, a witch.

An hour into this film and nothing has happened. It’s not uninteresting, but it’s becoming boring. And no, I don’t think it fair to defend this as an intriguing slowburn; it’s not, it’s just slow. When they finally drop the big conceptual reveal in our lap, it feels impotent. I didn’t necessarily know what was going to happen, but the delivery was accompanied by zero shock, dread, impression or terror. Truly, I don’t think I felt a strong sense of dread or tension throughout the entire film, and this is the very style of film which relies on just that. The actions that transpire amounted to a watered down Hereditary (2018) finale with a couple visually satisfying moments, but nothing more.

For his first feature film, director Nico van den Brink has proficiently made a film that desires much more in the way of tension, dread and probably budget (in terms of special effects). As unexciting as this film was, it was definitely not bad. It simply lacked the elements of horror (or degrees of those elements) I consider critical, despite good storytelling and photography in this sleepy horror folklore film. I’d definitely be interested in whatever Nico van den Brink does next.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2022 10:07 am

    Thanks for the review. I doubt I’d ever watch this one but after reading this I’ll avoid it. Sounds like it has some good material but there are better movies out there to spend my time with.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 2, 2022 7:30 pm

      Yeah, you won’t miss out by skipping it.

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