Sunday, 25 January 2015

Mr. Jones (2013)

Written and directed by Karl Mueller, Mr. Jones is an interesting movie that I just didn't end up liking that much. It did, however, have some decent moments here and there, and it certainly tried to do something interesting.

The basic story concerns a young couple named Scott (Jon Foster) and Penny (Sarah Jones). Scott has taken himself into the middle of some woods to work on a nature documentary, and Penny has decided to join him. As time moves on, it becomes clear that Scott isn't really getting much done. This puts a strain on their relationship. But then a distraction comes along in the shape of the mysterious Mr. Jones, an artist who has become something of a myth to those who know of him. Scott and Penny catch a glimpse of Mr. Jones, before realising who it is, and then quickly put the pieces together once they see where he lives, and spy some of his art. Scott thinks that he could change his documentary subject, but that might not be such a good idea.

While there's a lot of camerawork in Mr. Jones that will deter those who dislike "found footage" films, it's constructed in a way that lets Mueller off the hook when he wants to take a break from that particular stylistic choice. It's to his credit that the filming style changes to suit the aim of the scene without ever feeling like it's cheating.

Foster and Jones both do well, despite the fact that neither really seems strong enough to carry the movie. They work well together, which is the most important part of their performance, and at least aren't turned into caricatures of either good or bad people. This could have easily been a film about two completely innocent souls stuck in a cabin in the woods, or it could have been about two irritating people who spend a lot of time winding each other, and the audience, up. Instead, the two leads are allowed to find a middle ground. A reality, or as real as things can seem when positioned in the middle of this movie premise.

With some interesting ideas, scenes that mix jump scares with a growing atmosphere of intense dread, and general trippiness here and there, Mr. Jones feels like a crossover from the world of experimental cinema and more mainstream horror. I won't watch it again, yet it has one or two sequences that I won't forget.

Despite my disappointment with the final result, and my view of it as being a below-average movie, it wouldn't take much restructuring to turn it into something very impressive. I look forward to seeing what Karl Mueller does next. Well . . . . . . as long as it isn't a sequel to this.


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