MRR Review: "Mr. Jones"
on 2014-05-15 16:30
Length: 90 minutes
Release Date: May 2, 2014
Directed by: Karl Mueller
Genre: Drama / Horror / Thriller
In "Mr. Jones," two artists, Penny and Scott, decide to relocate to the wilderness to start their lives over and reinvigorate their careers. Shortly after arriving to their new home, the couple becomes intrigued by their reclusive next-door neighbor who they believe to be a famous artist. When they begin to investigate the man's identity, they uncover his deadly secret and become his next targets.
"Mr. Jones" begins with two artists named Penny and Scott living a busy life in the city. Although they are happy together, the couple discuss plans to move to a secluded cabin in the woods to escape the pressure of their lives. After packing their bags and relocating to a rural area, the couple quickly settles into their new surroundings. The quiet environment allows both artists to continue producing the work they have dedicated their lives to.
However, with no one else around and nothing to do but work, Penny and Scott begin to notice that their only neighbor only comes out of his house at night to transport his mysterious sculptures into the woods. The couple is puzzled by his behavior and begin to be increasingly interested in learning the man's identity. After some investigative work, the couple believes the man to be a famous sculptor known simply as Mr. Jones.
Unable to leave the situation alone, Penny and Scott decide to break into the man's house to get a better look at his work. However, they stumble across more than sculptures. After seeing too much, the couple is hunted by the man who is not who they initially thought he was. Isolated with nowhere to go for help, Penny and Scott become trapped in an endless maze of horrors.
"Mr. Jones" stars Jon Foster as Scott and Sarah Jones as Penny. Both actors provide a good portrayal of overly stressed artists who just want to get away from the noise and stress of the city. Foster and Jones have great chemistry, which is essential in the first half of the movie when there is not much going on. The two banter back and forth and keep the audience interested until the real action starts in the second half of the movie. After that, Jones and Foster both provide chilling portrayals of characters who are running for their lives. However, of the two, Jones' performance is slightly more authentic than Foster's.
The only other main character—the supposed Mr. Jones played by Mark Steger—is at first an unassuming man who only appears to be avoiding all forms of human contact. However, Steger creates an absolutely frightening killer that does not have to physically attack or even talk to scare both of the other characters and the audience.
As a whole, "Mr. Jones" appears to be a combination of two very different movies. In the first half of the film, the plot seems to be strictly a drama that follows the evolution of Penny and Scott's relationship. However, the film quickly transforms into a chilling horror film immediately after the characters explore Mr. Jones' house. Unfortunately, there is not enough substance in the first half of the film to make the lack of action compelling. Some audience members may even question if they have walked into the wrong movie theater when the film is just getting started. This problem is compounded by the fact that both halves of the movie are very disjointed and there is no real transition between the two plotlines. However, the long lead-up to the second half is definitely worth the wait.
From the middle of the movie to the end of the film, there is absolutely no break in the continuous and frightening developments. The theme of artwork is carried into the most chilling scenes, which actually makes the film unique and scarier than films that use the traditional shadows and lurking killers. The scarecrow sculptures and artfully arranged displays of animal bones indicate the characters are dealing with more than a reclusive artist. Some of the more frightening displays are misshapen creatures that are unidentifiable, which only adds another layer of mystery to the characters' discoveries.
The suspense that drives the film is created primarily by the ever-changing camera angles. The film technique allows the audience to see everything that is going on and somehow makes the on-screen events more suspenseful. However, one of the characters films the events of the film, which has become an over-used staple in recent horror movies. This strategy does remove the characters from the screen at times, which better connects the audience to what is happening. However, the shaking hand-held camera is at times distracting.
One of the most impressive elements of the film in regard to creating suspense is the fact that Mr. Jones rarely makes an appearance. He is always just outside of the scene, threatening to attack the characters at any moment. Additionally, although the characters are separated several times during the film, they are able to communicate with one another, which helps to offset the lack of a full cast. This also combines the characters' experience, creating more chilling moments in the film.
Overall, "Mr. Jones" is a frightening horror movie that has several unique qualities, such as the theme of artwork and the mysterious, often hidden killer. Although the first half of the film contains no threat of danger and is structured more like a drama than a horror movie, the second half of the film makes up for any initial lag in the development of the movie.