Howard’s Mill Image

Howard’s Mill

By Alan Ng | April 12, 2021

While not a negative, the most distracting thing about co-writers and co-directors Kaiser Whitmire and Shannon Houchins’ Howard’s Mill was how much I kept questioning if this was an actual documentary and not some found-footage horror/thriller akin to The Blair Witch Project. Well, it’s very real.

The titular Howard’s Mill is located in Springfield, Tennessee. The location is an abandoned farm with a sizeable pond nearby. According to the prologue, the filmmakers planned on telling the harrowing story of amateur treasure hunters Dwight and Emily Nixon. While hunting near the pond, Emily suddenly disappeared without a trace. The film was supposed to tell Dwight’s story and hopefully exonerate him.

It’s been months, and of course, the only suspect the police have for Emily’s disappearance is her husband, Dwight. It’s here where Whitmire and Houchins join the story as the police refuse to investigate anyone but Nixon. He wanted to show that the site had an infamous history of its own as it is the location of several disappearances over the decades.

In 1977, a young boy witnessed his migrant-worker family vanish while crossing the property. Two years later, the original owners’ daughter, Rebecca, disappeared, and two years later, their other daughter Glynnis also went missing. In 1994, Sarah Winston’s parents, while picnicking, shot a family video ending with Sarah running into the middle of a field and vanishing in an instant. Yes, we are shown the footage.

“…the location of several disappearances over the decades.”

As documentarians investigate the disappearances, they uncover the presence of the farm’s creepy neighbor Wayne Richie. Wayne was the local loner raised by an abusive family. Do we have a new suspect in the case? Before you know it, a body is found. Then out of nowhere, the story takes an incredible supernatural twist.

Howard’s Mill is one of those documentaries that started in production as a typical investigatory story and quickly turns weird… creepy weird. The real attraction comes in the filmmakers’ decision to change the entire tone of the movie, giving it that over-the-top ghosthunters treatment. From start to finish, I was always on edge. It’s incredible how much music and editing can turn any film into a thriller. It’s like those YouTube videos where you add the Benny Hill chase music over car chase footage.

The supernatural tone was vital as the third act revelations come to light. You need to see the movie because this is crazy sh!t. Look, I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to this supernatural stuff, and one might question the tonal shift, but I love Whitmire and Houchins’ presentation. They had an odd story on their hands, and the filmmakers leaned into it hard. I’m not exactly sure what the final post-credits segment was, but I’m still thinking about it.

Howard’s Mill straddles that line between reality and the absurd, and maybe they’re overselling the supernatural a bit. I think the most cynical viewers might have a problem with how the story is being sold and accuse it of sensationalism. That said, I love this film for those reasons. It’s a reminder of one of my favorite TV shows from the past, In Search Of… and I was fully engaged from beginning to end and, quite frankly, creeped out. It may not work for all, but it worked for me.

Howard's Mill (2021)

Directed and Written: Shannon Houchins, Kaiser Whitmire

Starring: Dwight Nixon, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Howard's Mill Image

"…out of nowhere, the story takes an incredible supernatural twist."

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  1. Inner Circle Vets says:

    This is a “mockumentary.” It is presented as if the ideas are facts. It’s to the credit of the performers and director as to how authentic it all seems. But no, it is NOT true.

    • Katherine Dann says:

      Ya, I’m mad lol.. I thought this was real! It was so good and I was completely captivated and taken in I had to google as soon as I finished watching, only to find it is fictional! I’m now disappointed and feel rather stupid, which is quite funny I guess!! Sucker………Kudos to the film’s production👍

      • Brenda Mccullough says:

        I also thought Howard’s Mill was real ! Disappointed that it was not . Time travel really interests me .

  2. James Pattison says:

    Is the final shot real? It’s a shot from one of three field cams, shown empty fields throughout the documentary. Then a last shot from field Cam 3 shows the sudden appearance of a little boy. He appears from out of nowhere. He is seated, stands and looks around as lost and then walks off camera. Is this real?!

  3. Susan Chamberlain says:

    I kept telling my husband that it had to be fiction or aliens.

  4. […] season with a series of indie horror film watch parties in October starting with the documentary Howard’s Mill. An abandoned piece of farmland in rural Tennessee may hold the key to multiple missing person […]

  5. Jennifer says:

    I’m watching this now and watching that poor little girl suddenly drop down out of sight of her family has got to be heartreching!where did she go?How can you idiots assume that every person who has disappeared from Howard’s Mill is fake?You don’t have ❤️ at all!!!😔

  6. Kk says:

    This should not even be placed under documentary. None of it is true! Stupid in my opinion.

    • Meghan says:

      Completely disappointing! Up until I saw Sarah’s dad I was riveted and then I’m like nope! So of course I hit the Goog and here I am… time to find a real documentary to watch!

  7. Lisa davis says:

    Ok I’m confused its been called a mockumentery, so what’s parts are true and what are not? Were there any missing people at all? They don’t come up in any searches, so I’m assuming its all fake. The footage of sarah running and then missing a few minutes later was a dead giveaway! Knowing that its fake makes for a spooky drama but not as much impact if it was true.

  8. Jason says:

    Garbage! Not sure what category this movie is in, but it deserves less than a bronze medal. Dale acting crap.

  9. Timothy Wilson says:

    terrible acting in this fake movie much like the blair witch project

  10. Kim says:

    This is a fake docudrama, folks. It should have been labeled as such.

  11. Emma says:

    Why do these fake documentaries always have such terrible actors and voiceovers? Wish they’d just open up and quit calling them documentaries.

  12. Mike says:

    The Howard’s only had one daughter that they didn’t tell anyone about which was Glynis. Rebecca was the mother and she didn’t disappear she moved to a different state. So I have a question they say 7 people went missing but they only talked about 6 of them. The Lopez family (3), Glynnis Howard, Sarah Winston, and Emily.

    • mark clark says:

      The 7th was talked about it was a father that was running in the field to catch his son . states how he just vanished. he was running towards his son and pw poof he’s gone.

  13. Judi says:

    I’ve watched this movie 5 times and will probably watch it several more times. Edge of my seat suspenseful and intriguing. I want updates and more information. How did the girl behind the wall die and what year did she die?
    Why did the living survivor think Wayne R. was her dad? What happened to Mr. Howard after they fled the mill? Have you looked for the Lopez’s body’s where they disappeared? Did you ask the Howard lady why there was locks on the outsides of the doors? Why didn’t you have the Howard lady and the girl that remembered being in the basement talk to each other? Like why was Wayne and her sleeping in a bed upstairs together in her home? What was the Howard’s lady’s daughter name? Was she wearing that white sweater when she left her?

  14. Shawn Meyers says:

    I very quickly got the feeling of the Blair Witch movie, but was Captured by the “ground swallowing” these people, and the thought of a worm hole!!
    Great movie!!!

  15. Victoria E Russell says:

    I took it to the next phase believing in it. I was SO SURE that I found a child that had been missing and had fit the profile to a tee. Had even contacted a place of research. How embarrassing it all turned out to be. Maybe somewhere it should have shown the word FICTION.

  16. YeSeNia SuArEz says:

    I loved the Howard’s mill documentary,it was first I thought “another Blair witch project movie”,but no.this film was actually good.i hope they come out with part 2, because what’s up with that little boy that appeared at the end.i will be looking out for it.

  17. PatSey says:

    Interesting, but if this is really a true story, why are there no news reports on line about Emily? I call BS.

  18. Tina says:

    Spooky thriller , on the edge of my seat…

  19. Jay says:

    I’d like to visit Howard’s mill in Springfield TN but can’t find a physical address me and my best friend are supernatural hunters can u help please?

    • Lisa says:

      There are also several places of interest in my neck of the woods, if you’d care to learn about them. Happy to share.

    • Lisa says:

      I live 2 hours from Springfield, and this location. Provide me with some contact info and I will utilize it. 🙂

      • Vickie says:

        To your knowledge, is there any truth to the “found child”? The one that was supposedly walking alone at approx.6yrs old.

    • sonna smith says:

      Hope y’all make it out🤞

    • geo says:

      its all fake, i can’t find any info on the missing people

      • Jim says:

        Seems to be fake , I have tried looking up the address and it does not exist…and the names are not matching up. I would like to Metal Detect this property with a group of of other detectorist with Top of the line machines… If anyone knows of this address please send to me and or if you know who this Glynis Howard is please have her contact me ….

        • Tiffany says:

          Glynis Howard was the little girl found dead in a small room in the basement on the mattress behind the wall that Wayne admitted to building.

  20. Yvette Salih says:

    Very Obvious acting, but not good at it. I don’t believe any part of it just entertaining.

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