The Mill Review: Psychological Sci-Fi Horror Excellence

The Mill -- A 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. Joe Stevens (Lil Rel Howery), is shown. (Photo: Courtesy of Hulu)
The Mill -- A 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. Joe Stevens (Lil Rel Howery), is shown. (Photo: Courtesy of Hulu)
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The Mill is the latest original film to arrive on Hulu and stars Lil Rel Howery as Joe Stevens, a man who mysteriously finds himself trapped inside an open-air prison cell. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film going into it, but I was quite pleasantly surprised by a number of things. It’s a psychological/sci-fi horror film that features great performances, script, and direction; it also fits perfectly into your Halloween viewing schedule.

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The Mill -- A 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. Joe Stevens (Lil Rel Howery), shown. (Photo: Courtesy of Hulu)
The Mill — A 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. Joe Stevens (Lil Rel Howery), is shown. (Photo: Courtesy of Hulu)

The Plot

Joe Stevens (Lil Rel Howery) is in management at a company called Mallard, a mega-corporation that appears to surpass Amazon. He is married to his wife Kate (played by Karen Obilom), who is pregnant with their first child. One day, Joe finds himself trapped inside an open-air prison cell with an old grist mill in the middle of it. In order to survive, Joe must endure hard physical and emotional labor and discover what the purpose of the prison is.

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The Critique

I thought this was a really great film; I’m not sure what I was expecting but my expectations were passed and then some. Sean King O’Grady (Our American Family) did a fantastic job directing this film. He puts you right into the action from the jump and doesn’t let up. At some point, you begin to feel like you’re trapped in there with Joe. The script from Jeffery David Thomas is also excellent, with a fantastic twist that you won’t see coming. If I had to give the film one critique, it would be that we don’t get enough time with Joe’s life outside of the prison; we get flashes of it but I wanted a little bit more.

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The Mill -- A 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. Kate Stevens (Karen Obilom), shown. (Photo: Courtesy of Hulu)
The Mill — A 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. Kate Stevens (Karen Obilom), is shown. (Photo: Courtesy of Hulu)

I wasn’t sure about Lil Rel Howery leading a film like this, but he does a fantastic job. He has been in some dramatic films before, like Get Out, but has always had somewhat of a comic relief role. This film is on his shoulders since he is the only person on screen for most of the time, much like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. He portrays the physicality of the labor and the emotions that Joe is grappling with perfectly; it’s the best performance I’ve seen from him.

Karen Obilom does a good job as Kate Stevens, but she doesn’t have enough screen time to really appreciate her character and her relationship with Joe. I can’t even really comment on her chemistry with Lil Rel Howery because they hardly share the screen together. Pat Healy does a great job as Johnny, the prison guard who is tasked with handling the punishments in the prison. The highlight of the supporting cast though is Patrick Fischler as Joe’s neighbor in the prison; you never see him but the vocal performance and chemistry he has with Lil Rel Howery is fantastic.

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The Mill -- “The Mill” is written by Jeffrey David Thomas (“All American: Homecoming”, “Titans”) and directed by Sean King O’Grady (“We Need to Do Something”). Producers on the film are Josh Feldman, Howery, O’Grady and Jesse Ford. Barbara and Brooke Goldner are executive producing for Altar Rock Pictures, with David Worthen Brooks, Arbi Pedrossian, Jenna Cavelle and Miles Alva of 20th Digital Studio. Johnny (Pat Healy), shown. (Photo: Courtesy of Hulu)
The Mill — “The Mill” is written by Jeffrey David Thomas (“All American: Homecoming”, “Titans”) and directed by Sean King O’Grady (“We Need to Do Something”). Producers on the film are Josh Feldman, Howery, O’Grady, and Jesse Ford. Barbara and Brooke Goldner are executive producing for Altar Rock Pictures, with David Worthen Brooks, Arbi Pedrossian, Jenna Cavelle, and Miles Alva of 20th Digital Studio. Johnny (Pat Healy), is shown. (Photo: Courtesy of Hulu)

In Conclusion

Overall, The Mill is a must-add to your Halloween viewing this month. With a great script, direction, and lead performance from Lil Rel Howery, it’s a Hulu film I hope people start talking about. If you are a horror, thriller, or sci-fi fan on any level, you should absolutely watch and hopefully enjoy it; make sure to add it to your weekend plans!

Rating: 9/10

9 Out of 10

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Written by Elliott Wishnefsky

Elliott Wishnefsky is a Film/TV Critic for FandomWire and a member of the Critics Choice Association. He's a graduate of Millersville University with a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. Elliott is also a content creator for his own brand, Learning at the Movies! Twitter: @Learning_Movies | Facebook/Instagram: @learningatthemovies | TikTok: @learningatthemovies