Movie Review: Hulu’s “The Mill” is a Claustrophobic Nightmare with a Twist

Huluween is here to deliver all the nightmarish and horrifying programming you could possible hope to enjoy this spooky season. With a slate of original films and series, Hulu is the place to go on a dark and stormy night. This year’s lineup includes the claustrophobic, psychological torture film known as The Mill from 20th Digital Studio.

In The Mill, a successful businessman (Lil Rel Howery) wakes up beside an ancient grist mill situated in the center of an open-air prison cell with no idea how he got there. Forced to work as a beast of burden to stay alive, he must find a way to escape before the birth of his child.

One word that comes to mind when describing The Mill would be “uncomfortable.” Right off the bat, the audience is thrown into this cell with Howery and only gets answers as he gets them. It is claustrophobic almost to the point of becoming stressful as the story progresses without any evident hope of escape.

The film also walks the line of becoming disturbing for those who aren’t willing to fully dive into every aspect of the horror genre. For those who enjoy the idea people enduring physical torture – like in the Saw films for example – but don’t actually want to see any gore, The Mill delivers on that front. It is unsettling without delivering imagery that will make you turn away.

At it’s core, this new film is a classic psychological sci-fi horror with an evil corporation at its center. This kind of story has been told plenty of times and this one does it in a particularly depressing way. It becomes very easy to sympathize with the film’s characters as the film tries to bleed into real life and push the message of the importance of a work-life balance.

This kind of film – a claustrophobic horror film that requires a bit of suspension of disbelief – almost always needs some kind of twist to deliver a satisfying ending. Luckily, The Mill does just that. Whether or not the final act is satisfying is subjective, but the film certainly flips things to at least not leave its audience in a depressive state on the dirt floor of an open-air cell somewhere.

It’s also important to note that the only reason this film can even have a chance of working is the performance of Howery. Typically known for his comedic roles, no one would blame you for being skeptical of his abilities to carry a film like this one. However, he manages to endear himself to the audience immediately, drawing us in from go. From there, his performance only gets stronger and stronger as his character goes through the full range of human emotion.

Overall, The Mill is certainly not the scariest thing you’re going to watch this Halloween season, but it is a compelling watch. With Howery doing all of the heavy lifting, this real-world horror story is going to lock you in a cell and challenge you psychologically. While it tells a familiar story, it does so in a fresh way that allows the audience to connect. If you’re looking for jump scares and gore, this isn’t the film you want. But if you want a dystopian, psychological drama that will make you think, The Mill is certainly worth a watch this Halloween season.

The Mill premieres October 9 on Hulu as part of the Huluween lineup.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."