Review: MR. JONES (2014){0}

At this point in the “found footage renaissance,” we’re dealing with new indies that only work for established fans of the format. You already have to be a pretty open-minded horror fan to watch a ton of found footage/“faux documentary” films in the first place, but a lot of the smaller flicks are also asking you to contend with (A) familiar stories in (B) familiar forests with (C) familiar characters carrying (D) familiar camera equipment. So even when a movie like Mr. Jones shows up, its good ideas and legitimate assets are often overshadowed by the almost maddeningly familiar premise, setting, and characters.

All of which is one way of saying that Karl Mueller’s Mr. Jones is a mixed-bag proposition all the way. It’s the story of an artistic young couple who decide to “leave it all behind,” take up residence in a deserted cabin, and (I think) record a nature documentary that will make the angels sing. That’s the plan, anyway. But after a decent set-up and some solid character building (thanks to strong work from leads Jon Foster and Sarah Jones), poor Scott and Penny find themselves embroiled in a vague yet decidedly ominous situation involving a scary homeless man, several bizarre wood sculptures, and an urban legend involving cursed artwork that… does something bad to people.

It all gets very artsy and weird in Act III (and I watched it twice) but hey, I’ll take a bit of cerebral effort over just a bunch of door-slamming and bloodletting. And that’s part of what makes Mr. Jones both slightly fascinating and frequently frustrating: for every cool idea, creepy moment, or legitimately effective moment of visual menace, the film also meanders and wanders through its own dream logic, and if often forgets to keep its audience up to speed. Slightly reminiscent of last year’s smart and self-aware Resolution, although lacking in that film’s more cohesive logic, Mr. Jones is clearly a “found footage flick” with a little more brains than many of its ilk, which means it has interesting ideas, talented actors, and some truly cool imagery in its corner – but it’s plainly lacking a little something in the screenwriting department.


Scott Weinberg

Mr. Jones is available to stream or download here (UK only)