mrjonesEvery year, a horror film will emerge and declare itself a game changer.  It touts its originality as a benchmark in the genre.  It features epic quotes in its trailer from critics that call it “TERRIFYING” and boast about how they were on the edge of their seat the whole time.  MR. JONES, is not that film.

The story follows Scott and Penny, a young couple who ditch their big city life in favor of a cabin in the countryside.  Their intention is to work on their relationship while Scott documents the experience on camera.  Over time, strange things begin to happen and they both discover that they share the countryside with Mr. Jones, a mercurial artist whose work is celebrated and feared by the American arts community.

Seeing an opportunity, Scott and Penny convince themselves to investigate Mr. Jones and instead make a documentary about the myth which surrounds his “scarecrows”.  What they don’t bargain for is the nightmare that will soon follow.

This film had a VERY promising start.  We open with Scott cycling through their experience of the first 50 or so days at the cabin with his patience growing more and more thin.  The novelty of country-living has already worn off.  Penny is indifferent.  When the discovery of Mr. Jones enters the fray, the film takes on a fresh and bold story.  It’s also where the problems begin.

Perhaps its my own preference, as I’ve never truly understood the motivations of the “damsels in distress” that fall victim to whatever boogeyman/serial killer eventually seals their fate, but the actions that forward the story behind this film are puzzling.  When Penny and Scott search Mr. Jones’ house to find the backpack he stole containing Scott’s keys (another action that doesn’t make much sense), they discover his workshop which is a quintessential house of horrors.  They narrowly escape and then decide to go back.  Yes, that happened.

From this point forward, the whole narrative begins to fall apart and the film becomes more of a psychological thriller than anything else.  We eventually discover what Mr. Jones is doing out in these woods alone, and the final act of the film is a disjointed, feverish mess.  It’s not so much that it’s terrible, as the intent is actually smart – it’s the execution that ruins the momentum.

Actors Jon Foster and Sara Jones (Scott and Penny respectively) do the best they can with a meager story, but even they’re not enough to save MR. JONES from itself.  Writer/Director Karl Mueller has proven he can shoot a good-looking film (assuming the budget for this film was relatively small), but this was a miss.  His previous work as a writer was on Xavier Gens’  THE DIVIDE, and it’s definitely a superior movie.

If you’re a fan of cerebral thrillers, then at least 25 minutes of MR. JONES will do the trick.  Other than that, if you’re looking for big scares and big ideas, MR. JONES is a film you may want to avoid.