Shudder's original film, "Moloch", directed by Nico van den Brink, is a popular horror genre that attempts to create a narrative that is not only suspenseful but fits into a broader philosophy. The 1 hour and 30 minutes film is as sharp as it gets and instills a sense of urgency in the issues it tackles. Music by Ella van der Woude adds uneasiness to the scheme of things and deftly complements the grim backdrop, shot by Emo Weemhoff. So let's take a look at this Dutch story and see if it can bring something authentic to the plate or not.
'Moloch' Plot Summary: What Is the Movie About?
It was 1991 and a young Betriek was feeding a house mouse that she had petted. Suddenly, he heard some voices coming from upstairs. Someone had entered the room where her grandmother used to stay. Shortly after, he saw blood dripping from the ceiling. It was a traumatic experience for the girl, but she somehow survived that night. The film “Moloch” takes us 30 years forward in time, where we see that Betriek now lives with her daughter and her parents near a peat bog in a small town in Holland. A mysterious person, dubbed the "bag man", was found dead by authorities and was supposedly digging in the ground for some reason. His dead body lay in the well he was digging. A group of archaeologists had also arrived in the city that same day, as they had found the perfectly preserved corpse of a woman. They believed the corpse was from the recent past, considering it had anticipated decomposition. But that was not the case. Jonas, the team leader, who was reputed to be one of the best in his field, was amused by the discovery. Betriek sensed that she saw the Bag Man in her garden, but her father told him that was not possible as the man had died that day.
The next day, in the morning, Roelof, his father, was fighting with Jonas, as he believed that someone from his archaeological team had invaded his facilities. Jonas and Betriek were at the same cafe that night, where they had a chance to talk and bond. Jonas was attracted to the Dutch woman and wanted to know more about her. Betriek told him her family history and how the townspeople thought her entire lineage was cursed. Her husband, Neil, had died, leaving her with a daughter named Hanna. His grandmother was murdered by someone when he was very young (as shown in the first scene), and after that incident, his father became an alcoholic. Recently, it was discovered that his mother, Elske, was also suffering from some kind of illness. Doctors opined that this was an unprocessed trauma case now showing physical symptoms in her. They advised her to go to therapy, but Betriek's mother insisted against it. Strange things had been happening since Jonas, and his team had discovered the preserved body of a woman. One of his team members, named Radu, broke into Betriek's house. Radu was constantly apologizing and saying that someone forced him to do this. He suddenly attacked his mother, but his father arrived in the nick of time and hit him in the head, knocking him unconscious. The police arrived at the house and took him to the hospital.
Jonas came the next day and enjoyed himself as much as the Betriek family. He didn't understand how a man who hadn't lifted a finger in his entire life now had the audacity to do something like that. Roelof said that even the Bag Man exhibited a similar pattern of behavior. Betriek and Jonas meet a man whose son, named Micha, died a few days ago. He was also digging like the others. Micha's dad says he used to hear whispers, so he knew exactly where to dig. It tells the story of a woman named Helen and a folklore that was somehow connected to her son's death. Jonas learned that Radu had dug in specific areas and found the corpses of four more women, which were preserved in the same way as the first one they found. The astonishing fact was that all the women had their throats slit vertically. Betriek had a strange encounter with Radu's son when he went to the hospital for his mother's check-up. The little boy got into the elevator with her and said one sentence: “Nu a murit”. He later looked it up and found it meant "never died" in Romanian. There was some connection between the women's bodies, found by Jonas, and what was going on in Betriek's life. To better understand the situation, Jonas asked his colleague Sonja to tell him more about the legend of Feike and whether it has any connection with the deaths of people.
'Moloch' ending explained What was the legend of Feike? Who was killing Betriek's family?
Dutch people believed in Feike's folklore and often celebrated her as a hero. Sonja tells Jonas about this, at the same time she is introduced on stage by the children from Betriek's school. Many centuries ago, there used to be an evil lord named Walter. He had a wife named Helen, who was not only drenched in greed, but was also a bad influence on her husband. Walter fell in love with a female slave named Feike and had an adulterous relationship with her. Helen discovered that Feike was pregnant with her husband's child and was furious. She wanted to find a way to make the girl regret her actions, though she never blamed her own husband for betraying her trust. She created a false narrative in which she told the townspeople that Feike was a witch and possessed her husband. He called her an evil sorceress and imprisoned her. Feike was heartbroken that she had to pay for the sins she didn't commit. He began to pray to his God and demand justice. His prayers were answered by a pagan god called "Moloch", the god of child sacrifice. She made a deal with the pagan God. She said that she would sacrifice herself if he promised that Helen would regret subjecting her to such cruelty and abuse. "Moloch" agreed, but there was a problem. There was a cost to this retribution. “Moloch” would be entitled to Feike's fetus. He says it's a revenge cage, like a gallows. He told her that history would continue to repeat itself and that the unborn generations would continue to pay the cost of retribution. Feike was so wrapped up in revenge that he agreed and slit his own throat in front of Helen, escaping his adverse fate.
Betriek had begun to understand everything. The women found in the excavation were related and belonged to different eras. All were possessed by Feike and finally made the sacrifice. The cycle repeated every 30 years, when "Moloch" arrived and claimed the bodies of Feike's successors. Helen's spirit wanted Feike's successors to repent and the same successors wanted to sacrifice their descendants, because Feike owned her body. Elske was next in line and because of that she was having all kinds of physical problems. The family of Betriek, Feike and all the dead women belonged to the same lineage. Roelof had set the trap in his garden when he saw all the dead women suddenly appear. He attacked his own wife, but Betriek managed to beat him and free his mother. Later, her mother hung Roelof on a noose and killed him. He tied up Betriek and, in front of her, slit her throat, thus sacrificing her life and allowing the "Moloch" to claim the next woman in line, namely Betriek. Jonas got home, untied the ropes Betriek was tied to, and made her join Hanna, who had been hiding in the storage room until now. It seemed that the confusion was over that night, but it wasn't.
A few days later, Jonas returned to town and met Betriek. He offered her and Hanna to move in with him, but Betriek politely declined. Upon leaving, Betriek took the sugar sachet from the coffee, as her mother Elske did, which was evidence of the fact that Feike now resided in it. Jonas has also started to feel quite out of focus lately. He was agitated and couldn't concentrate. The curse is not over. It was only a matter of time before Jonas started hearing whispers, as did Roelof. Feike had now moved into Betriek's body, and Moloch was waiting for the moment when Feike would cut his own throat and hand over his daughter, Hanna, to the pagan god. In the last scene, we see that Feike was sitting with Hanna. Moloch forced the women to do this, no matter how unwilling they were to sacrifice their daughter. Revenge came at a cost and they had to pay. Betreik's soul was claimed by him the same night his mother killed herself. Now she was just waiting for the 30 year cycle to complete, after which, in all likelihood, even Betriek would start having those seizures and panic attacks like her mother and would sacrifice her physical body as Feike resided in her now. The curse would never end, Feike would never stop possessing the women's bodies and making the sacrifice as per his agreement with the pagan god. Moloch stood by what he had told Feike: she would pay a heavy price for revenge.
Through Feike's lore, the director, Nico van den Brink, and his co-writer, Daan Bakker, point to the simple fact that you can never move forward in life if you're still deluded by a strong sense of revenge. The idea may seem cathartic at first, but eventually it hurts the victim more than the perpetrator. Feike wanted Helen to repent, and although he managed to force her to do so, he never really broke free of that bitter prison. Forgiveness is something that doesn't come easily, but it has the power to set a person free. No good is created out of bitterness, Betriek blurted as she looked at her daughter outside the window. She hoped that Hanna would break free of this cycle of revenge and end the cycle once and for all.
The music, intriguing lore, spooky atmosphere and realistic performances combine to make "Moloch" a captivating watch that fans of the genre will love.
“Moloch” is a 2022 horror-drama film directed by Nico van den Brink.
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