Moloch (2022) poster

Moloch (2022)


Netherlands. 2022.


Director – Nico Van Den Brink, Screenplay – Daan Bakker & Nico Van Den Brink, Producers – Sabine Brian & Ronald Versteeg, Photography – Emo Weemhoff, Music – Ella Van Der Woude, Visual Effects Supervisor – Albert Van Vuure, Visual Effects – Planet X Visual Effects, Special Effects Supervisor – Harry Wiesenhaan, Production Design – Romke Faber. Production Company – NL Film Productions/VPRO.


Sallie Harmsen (Betriek), Alexandre Willaume (Jonas), Anneke Blok (Elske), Fred Goessens (Roelof), Noor Van Den Velden (Hanna), Jack Wouterse (Hans), Markoesa Hamer (Sonja), Edon Rizvanolli (Radu)


Betriek lives with her parents and her young daughter in rural Netherlands. The body of a local man is found, having committed suicide in a pit in the neighbouring bog. The body of a woman who appears to have been ritually sacrificed is also unearthed from the pit. A team of archaeologists led by Jonas arrive to investigate. This is followed by strange incidents during which one of the archaeological team breaks into Bietrek’s home and attacks them. Betriek and Jonas become friends and later lovers. She teaches him about the local legend of Feike, a witch who was burned at the stake but exerted retribution beyond the grave. At the same time, incidents begin to take Betriek back to something that happened in her childhood.

Moloch was a feature-length debut for Dutch director Nico Van Den Brink who had previously made several short films. The film played several international film festivals before being released to the US Shudder streaming service.

Moloch creates a mystery about what is going on. Nico Van Den Brink’s direction is solid – this is not a horror film of jumps and “boo” moments, but of slowly accumulating and darkening mood. A good deal of the film is invested in creating the local setting, and developing Sallie Harmsen’s relationship with her family and friendship with archaeologist Alexandre Willaume.

Sallie Harmsen in Moloch (2022)
Sallie Harmsen

It is not until past the halfway point that the legend of the witch Feike is introduced and the Folk Horror element kicks in. Even then, it is not always clear where things are going – that being said in a good way. The film gradually reveals its punches by which time Nico Van Den Brink has taken it in increasingly darker places, leaving red herrings about what we think is happening. By the climactic scenes in particular, we are getting a distinct vibe of Hereditary (2018).

That leads in to a beautifully threaded together twist in the ending. This is not something that becomes fully evident until you realised what happened in the very last shot. Here the Folk Horror element, the legend of the witch and the sinister cult, not to mention the meaning of the childhood prologue, all fall together with a sublime sense. It is one of the most beautifully set up and chilling endings I have seen in a film in recent memory.

Trailer here

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