Before I sat down to watch MR. JONES, I purposely made sure not to research the film or even look it up on imdb.com. Although other people’s opinions, especially those of esteemed critics, do not hold any sway in my personal assessment of films, I did this primarily because the plot was so intriguing that I wanted to be completely surprised. And let me tell you, I was definitely impressed! This treasure of a film from the Tribeca International Film Festival is an excellent horror flick, full of both originality and suspense.
If you are not familiar with MR. JONES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:
Scott (Jon Foster of Stay Alive) and Penny (Sarah Jones of “Sons Of Anarchy”) just moved to a remote cabin to escape the pressures of the world and breathe new life into their art. They will soon discover they are not alone: an infamously reclusive artist – known only as ‘Mr. Jones’ – lives nearby. He doesn’t like to be disturbed, and only comes out at night when he drags his strange, sinister sculptures deep into the woods. But when Scott and Penny’s curiosity leads them to venture too close for Mr. Jones’ comfort, he plunges the young couple into a nightmare world of mayhem, madness and mind-bending terror. Diane Neal (“Law & Order: SVU”) and David Clennon (John Carpenter’s The Thing) co-star in this startling tale from debut director Karl Mueller (writer of The Divide) and from the producer of the Sundance hit The Pact.
In a genre full of overused ideas and tired concepts, I find it extremely refreshing when a film like this comes along. The plot is not complex, but it is one of those you definitely have to focus on to stay up with the film. And while the concept is simplistic in nature, the movie will take you in a wildly entertaining ride.
MR. JONES has some great cinematography, although the majority of it is shot from a first-person perspective (some is third-person, when one of the characters sets the camera down). But this is not your run-of-the-mill found-footage video. The shots in this film are carefully crafted and give major credibility to the authenticity of the frights. As a result, the camerawork is a big contributor to the chilling atmosphere of the film as a whole.
The acting is first rate, with Jon Foster and Sarah Jones heading up the small but talented cast. I am particularly impressed with the way Jones conveys fear with her eyes; many actresses try to accomplish this, but it usually comes across as forced. Jones, to her credit, pulls this off with ease. The result is a much more immersive (and therefore frightening) movie experience.
There’s not really any gore in MR. JONES, but the special effects are incredible nonetheless. I am speaking in particular to the ‘artwork’ that Mr. Jones creates. These vivid yet simple pieces are powerful in their presence onscreen, and just looking at one by itself for a moment is enough to invoke chills. I would love to own one of these props personally, as it would make a heck of a conversation piece!
MR. JONES is a major win for me, and I highly recommend it. The film is a unique, surrealistic nightmare that ends with a nice twist I didn’t see coming. In short, it’s a perfect horror flick. Give this one a look in a couple of weeks when it hits theaters; or, if you’d prefer to watch it at home, the DVD/Blu-ray version will be released shortly thereafter. Regardless of where you watch it, make sure you’re not alone…