Moloch is an atmospheric horror film drenched in folklore and legends of a haunted soul. Initially, it is stylized as an introspective look at the life of a single mother, grieving her husband’s loss and dealing with what lies ahead.
Eventually, though, the Dutch film uncovers itself as a survival story; a mother trying to save herself and her daughter from a curse that she discovers has continued to affect her family for generations. Here is a look back at the film that ended on a confusing note and might even give indications for a sequel.
Moloch Plot Synopsis
In 1991, we catch a terrifying glimpse of a young girl cowering in a closet. Noises upstairs are strange and suddenly, they give way to a stream of blood that drips from the spaces in the floorboards.
Thirty years hence, Betrieke has recovered from the brutal killing of her grandmother and nurses a family of her own. She lives with her daughter, Hannah, and her parents in the same house. Jonas and his crew come from outside the town and start finding bodies of preserved women in the bog.
This strange event collides with another, as the men who dig them out have no prior information about where the bodies were and it is presumed that “Helen” is whispering in their ears. Jonas and Betrieke share a brief romantic relationship and join forces to dig till they find the shocking truth.
How do the men know where to dig and why are they doing it?
Initially, we only see the case of one “bog man” who mysteriously digs up the body of a woman. We also see him spot a silhouette in the dog and die as a result of seeing that apparition. The news quickly spreads and further digs follow suit.
Men from Jonas’ party are the victims of Helen’s whispers. She is the one who guides them on where to dig because she knows where the bodies of the women are buried. Helen has been taking victims from the town for centuries. Even the women found in the bog all have certain characteristics.
Their throats are slit vertically and they have some or the other connection to each other. They belong to the same lineage most probably and belong to different “eras” or “generations”. The silhouette that the first bog man sees is that of Helen. Subsequently, he dies of a heart attack that is brought on by the spirit of the cursed lady.
What is the identity of the women who are dug up?
Betrieke goes to Sonja, Jonas’ assistant in the dig to understand the nature of the bodies dug up. Betrieke asks Sonja questions about the women and the connection between them. She gets almost all of the details right. We discover that the women are related and belong to different generations. They all have the same lineage, indicating that they belong to the same family or were very close to each other.
Exact details about the women are not important as the very idea that they belong to the same lineage in different generations completes the story development.
Betrieke and the other women in his family were/will be buried in the bog when they complete the thirty-year cycle as the curse of Helen will not let them leave the house. This is also evidenced by Betrieke’s reluctance to leave the house where her parents were murdered to keep a semblance of “familiarity and continuity” for her daughter.
Why does the little girl from the hospital run up to Betrieke?
This was arguably the most pivotal scene in the narrative that really was a tipping point for it to come into action. Until that point, we only had a semblance of an idea about the eventual revelation of the curse. The man (Radu) who came into Betrieke’s house to slit the throat of her mother confirmed the theory that there’s some supernatural force at play.
When Roelof smacks him in the back of his head, he ends up in a coma. Betrieke goes to the hospital with her mother and spots Radu. All of a sudden, she catches his younger daughter staring at her through the mirror. Betrieke is creeped out and rushes toward the elevator. She follows her in there and mutters the words, “nu a murit” (meaning she didn’t die), as she holds her hand.
Suddenly, the lights in the elevator start to flicker and the girl gapes at something behind Betrieke: the ghost of Helen, waiting to get in. There is no clear clarification from the plot about the girl. After the scene, we do not see her again. The only thing we can gauge from the episode is that she is something out of M. Night Shyamalan’s book.
The girl might have a different kind of sixth sense. She sensed weird energy around her father and then saw Betrieke staring. How did she know the Latin phrase? We will probably never know but we can imagine something along these lines.
What is the curse of Helen that haunts the bog?
Now this story was retold in the form of a drama enacted by the kids and a voice-over narrated by Sonja. Helen was the wife of affluent and perverse King Walter. Feike was one of the servants in their household. Walter indulged in an adulterous relationship with Feike, which was considered normal in those days. But Helen was not content being quiet when she discovered that Feike was carrying Walter’s offspring.
The jealous queen figured out a way to take revenge on Feike. She spread rumors around the village and kingdom that Feike practiced witchcraft and was a sorceress.
In those days, it was considered the worst kind of crime. Feike was soon thrown into the dungeons and left to await her fate. Despite doing no wrong, she was facing the brunt of the town’s wrath. She called out to God and asked him to do justice for her. Moloch, the god of child sacrifice answered her call, something she hadn’t planned on originally.
Like any devious devil, Moloch’s deal involved Feike giving up not only her life but her unborn offspring. The curse would continue for generations and there’d be no stopping it. Feike was so consumed by the idea of exacting revenge on Helen that she agreed to it without considering the repercussions. When she committed the sacrifice, cutting a vertical slit in her throat, her spirit was able to get into Helen’s body and control her. So since then, she and Helen became one and the same.
And thus, the curse of Helen was born. As Moloch said, “the unborn generations would keep paying the cost of the retribution”.
How does the curse affect Betrieke?
This is a bit tricky to answer because of incomplete information in the plot. All we know is that Betrieke’s grandmother and mother after her suffered the same fate of having to give up their offspring to the heathen God because of the curse.
There are no familiar relations determined between her and Feike but given the events of the film, something like this cannot be ruled out. We don’t really get a lot of background of her family, nor any history that could give us a clear answer. The simple answer to this question would be because her grandmother and mother suffered the same fate, she also has to.
Is Betrieke able to stop the curse of Feike?
The ending of Moloch left a lot of confusion in the mind of the viewers. We start off from Roelof in the forests. The old man had gone out to inspect the camera he had set up to capture any prospecting intruders on his property.
As he was standing right in the middle of the setup, mysterious females dressed in all white approached him. They surrounded him from all four corners.
These are the women who are trapped by Feike and have to offer their children to the heathen God Moloch who returns after every thirty years to claim a soul. It is a bit like the clown from It. Roelof was possessed and did exactly what Radu wanted to do. Against his will, he tries to break in and advances toward Betrieke’s mother.
Now, here is the twist. He was actually sent by the spirits to kill Betrieke’s mother instead of the girl herself. They wanted the curse to be over because it had to be her mother who would perform the final act of sacrifice to once again summon the heathen god.
But Betrieke spoiled their plan, just like Roelof did that night with Radu. Betrieke’s mother was fully possessed by Helen after that and killed Roleoef by hanging him. She advanced upstairs where masked humans surrounded a tied-up Betrieke on the bed.
That is when the mother had to perform her sacrifice and allow Moloch to claim the soul and Helen to take over. This is why in the final shot we see Feike sitting beside Hanna as Betriek’s trapped spirit looked on from outside the house. As fate would have it, even Hannah would be given as a sacrifice someday by Betrieke, and hence the curse continues.
Read More: Moloch Movie Review