In a film set on a picturesque farm in the middle of Pennsylvania, one man?s inheritance is going to yield more than new responsibilities--it?s going to unearth the past. This film-festival favorite is filled with suspense and intense performances by … see full wiki
There is a moment when one of the characters in Windcroft screams “I’m going to put an end to it!” One of the other characters screams back: “End what?!” Perfect summation: end what?
John and Diane are a young couple married for a shortish while. He is a vice president at an advertising firm but is in a precarious position of losing clients. So, apparently to alleviate some job stress, he decides to add a different kind of stress and goes back to his childhood home to exorcize some demons.
The couple arrives and realizes the place is relatively well kept. Mindy, a long time resident roughly John’s age, has been caretaking. John and Diane do what a couple will do in the country. Yea, that, but he does actually take stock of what needs to be done and begins to do it. While he does that, Diane buddies up with Mindy and wanders about painting and otherwise enjoying a bucolic spree.
As is typical of this sort of “coming home” Mindy and John apparently have a bit of a past. Included in this past are dead parents: an overbearing father and a mother who’d committed suicide by hanging. Instead of exorcizing these demons, though, he seems to suffer from them. John starts to drift mentally at times. At first Diane is somewhat confused, then becomes more confused, and then just a bit more confused. She turns to Mindy but Mindy has also taken on a personality a bit different from the person she met, leaving Diane the only one separated mentally from the environment.
Nominally Windcroft is a mystery, so I’ll not go any farther there. While it may seem that I have exposed too much of the plot, I promise I haven’t.
The acting is D+; the character development is somewhere in the F- range of things. Joe Ryan and Vanessa Daniels (John and Diane) are run of the mill actors playing very weak, very cheap stock characters. I get the mental image of a parking lot filled with day-laborers who are provisional members of the screen actors guild. A guy, Evan Meszaros in this case (writer and director) pulls up in his dusty Hummer and yells: “I need a white man and white woman, both around 30, both fit enough, to play a couple who may or may not go crazy visiting a farm, any takers, any takers?”
The exception to the acting is Monica Knight, Mindy. She is as bad an actor as the others but as anything approaching a climax occurs, she starts screaming. Her pitch is so high that my beer bottle cracked. I muted it and could still hear it. I live in an area where there are plenty of tornado sirens, but some worried folks claim they have trouble hearing it. Record this woman screaming and no one could ever claim to be caught by surprise again.
If you want to see a movie where a place creates changes in personalities, then The Haunting (even the crap remake) would be far better. The Ring movies aren’t quite so direct with their location-causes-psychoses themes, but the general atmosphere is there (and the Ring movies come with other storylines for your viewing pleasure). If you want to watch a film set on a farm with half a dozen characters where family linen is aired but by a competent writer, director, and a super talented cast, I highly recommend Tully. There is no circumstance where Windcroft should be considered for anything, even a sick joke.
As with another film 99 Pieces (the worst movie I have ever seen to this point), I feel compelled to explain in a bit more detail what is seriously wrong with the movie. If you aren’t interested in the extra info, no need to read further. plot spoilers below (there isn’t anything to spoil, but just in case . . .)
There really is nothing to spoil. There really is no story. John apparently goes somewhat crazy, but when it starts is impossible to say. Just how it manifests itself is also impossible to say—he does commit murder, but that is the act not the presentation of the dementia. It seems that he is just moody and we are supposed to be able to interpret when moody turns into madness.
For eighty minutes the movie drags along developing almost nothing. We learn that John’s maternal grandmother also hung herself. John also rapes/not rapes Mindy. The scene shows 2 parallel stories—I guess. The first shows Mindy as willing, the second as unwilling. The assumption given that Mindy goes a bit nuts is that she was unwilling. But these scenes are just scenes, they present a sort of matter-of-fact-ness not development.
During this interminable slog, there is something actually sort of clever if intended (but utterly sloppy if not). The general theatrical law is that “a gun in the first act always goes off in the third.” Well, the film has: rifle, axe, barbed wire, post-hole digger, animal trap and to a certain extent, coyotes. Only the barbed wire is used for one murder, the rest of the murders and attempted murders occur with other weapons not given focus in the first or second act, they just pop up.
In the last 20 minutes we find out that Mindy is actually John’s sister, so we have a bit of incest. Mindy says two things that make no sense, have no context: she did everything she could to get John to come home so she can put an end to it.
John returns to the farm because he gets the idea he wants to. At least that’s what the movie shows. If Mindy played any part in getting him to return, it is on the cutting room floor.
What thing is Mindy going to end? I think we are supposed to assume the family tradition of creating children born from incest. But if that’s true, there is no indication that John or Mindy suffer from anything specific to children born of a third generation of incest—run of the mill psychosis is general; I mean, children of the corn sort of deformities here. Apart from that shot in the dark, there really is no explanation as to why she would kill her brother and then go after his wife.
Mindy tried her best to get her brother to come back. Her best was nothing. This is also true for writer director Evan Meszaros, he shot some random scenes and random dialog but to no purpose; this is the movie version of the same nothing.
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