The Mill Review: Riveting Thriller That Falls Short of Brilliance

The Mill, a science fiction thriller film written by Jeffrey David Thomas and directed by Sean King O’Grady, offers an intriguing premise that promises to delve deep into the human psyche while exploring themes of survival, desperation, and the lengths one can go to protect their loved ones. Starring Lil Rel Howery as Joe, the movie takes us on a journey through an enigmatic open-air prison, blending suspense and psychological drama in an attempt to captivate its audience. While the film undeniably boasts strong performances and a unique concept, it falls short of reaching its full potential, leaving viewers with a sense of unfulfilled anticipation. Read on for my The Mill review.

The Good About This The Mill Review: 

The Mill (2023).

At the heart of the film lies a compelling premise: a businessman waking up next to an ancient grist mill within the confines of a mysterious open-air prison. Stripped of his identity and freedom, Joe, portrayed with depth and sincerity by Lil Rel Howery, must grapple with the harsh reality of his situation. Forced into the role of a beast of burden, he becomes a cog in the machine, toiling away with no apparent purpose other than survival. The film brilliantly captures the essence of his desperation, painting a vivid picture of the human spirit’s resilience in the face of adversity.

The cinematography in The Mill is commendable, capturing the desolation and confinement of the prison with a haunting beauty. The open-air setting, juxtaposed with the claustrophobic atmosphere of the mill, creates a visual tension that adds depth to the narrative. The film’s visual aesthetics succeed in immersing the audience within the grim confines of Joe’s reality, enhancing the overall viewing experience.

Furthermore, Lil Rel Howery’s performance is undeniably the film’s strongest asset. He convincingly conveys Joe’s internal struggle, allowing the audience to empathize with his plight. Howery’s emotional range and genuine portrayal elevate the character beyond the confines of the script, making him a relatable protagonist despite the surreal circumstances. His chemistry with the supporting cast, especially during moments of camaraderie and conflict, adds layers to the interpersonal dynamics within the prison, enhancing the film’s overall depth.

The Bad Parts Within The Mill Review: 

The Mill (2023).

However, where The Mill stumbles is in its execution of the central mystery. The film builds an air of suspense and intrigue around the origins of the prison and the purpose behind Joe’s imprisonment. Unfortunately, the storyline fails to deliver a satisfying resolution, leaving several crucial questions unanswered. The ambiguity, while potentially intriguing in a different context, leaves the audience feeling unfulfilled and disconnected from the story. The lack of a coherent and satisfying explanation diminishes the impact of the film’s climax, robbing it of the emotional resonance necessary to leave a lasting impression.

Additionally, the pacing of the film contributes to its shortcomings. Certain scenes feel unnecessarily prolonged, creating moments of stagnation that disrupt the overall flow of the narrative. This inconsistency in pacing hampers the film’s ability to maintain a sense of tension, causing the audience’s engagement to waver at times. Tighter editing and a more focused approach to storytelling could have significantly improved the film’s impact, allowing the audience to remain fully invested in Joe’s journey.

Overall Impression: 

The Mill offers a tantalizing glimpse into a dystopian world where the human spirit is put to the ultimate test. Lil Rel Howery’s exceptional performance and the film’s striking visual elements provide moments of brilliance, allowing glimpses of the film’s true potential. However, the lack of a coherent resolution and uneven pacing prevent the film from reaching the heights it aspires to achieve. While it is undeniably worth watching for its captivating premise and strong lead performance, viewers should be prepared for a narrative experience that, despite its promise, falls short of delivering a fully satisfying and cohesive story.

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The Mill Review: Riveting Thriller That Falls Short of Brilliance
  • Acting - 8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 7.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 7/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7.5/10
  • Watchability - 7.5/10
  • Rewatchability - 6/10
User Review
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.