Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Blu-ray Review: MR JONES (2014) [Anchor Bay Entertainment]

Mr. Jones (2014)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

The debate over what constitutes a "found footage" film is nothing new to genre fans. These days, the term is over-used and often incorrect in its assumptions. However, there is no denying that Hollywood loves it, and it's no secret that they are doing everything they can to shove it down our throats; whether it adds to the project or not.

MR JONES, the directorial debut from writer/director Karl Mueller (who also wrote THE DIVIDE a couple years ago), isn't really "found footage," but it not entirely something else either. Though I'm sure that some of the films' Producers tossed that term around in relating what they wanted MR JONES to be, in the end, it's a strange hybrid of fictional documentary, third-person narrative, and of course, the prerequisite POV shots that are so prevalent in today's "found footage" films. Does it work? Well, kind of...

As much as I'm sure we would love for this to be a horror film where Adam Duritz is stalked and murdered by a masked killer, MR JONES sadly has nothing to do with the Counting Crows song of the same name. The official synopsis (from Anchor Bay) reads as follows:
Scott and Penny just moved to a remote cabin to escape the pressures of the world and breathe new life into their art. Their only neighbor for miles is a strange hermit who only comes out at night, under the shroud of darkness. He never acknowledges them, never speaks – never does anything except drag his strange disturbing sculptures deep into the woods, night after night, without rest. As Scott (Jon Foster) and Penny (Sarah Jones) get deeper into his world, they start to suspect that this man is actually an infamous, reclusive artist known only as “Mr. Jones,” and they've stumbled across a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to document his bizarre existence. But this is only the beginning. When Scott and Penny delve too deeply into Mr. Jones’ existence, everything around them turns in on itself and their only escape is through the realm of their own nightmares.
It's a setup that definitely has promise, but unfortunately, MR JONES only rises slightly above the average genre film; despite some great visuals and a few outright creepy set-pieces.

The films' production design is quite stunning, actually, and MR JONES features the creepiest scarecrows on film since the 1980s beat the sub-genre to death. The twisted, gnarly, and unsettlingly gaunt scarecrows that "Mr Jones" makes are undoubtedly the best part of the movie. Just looking at them gives me chills, but unfortunately, that's not enough to elevate MR JONES to the upper echelon of genre-fare from the last few years because ultimately, the story of "Mr Jones" never truly resolves itself.

That's not to say that every movie needs to lay out its plot points and reveal all of its secrets in order to work. However, the mysticism that usually accompanies such unexplained elements isn't all that strong here. To be honest, I didn't really find myself caring about the eventual resolution of the film, and everything in between on mildly held my attention.

I do give the film credit for working very well within the confines of its PG-13 rating. Most PG-13 genre films these days feel neutered; like the production company cut the movie that way strictly to appeal to the Four Quadrants rather than servicing the story. However, MR JONES doesn't feel choppy, for the most part, and I don't think it's the kind of movie that would benefit from added gore, nudity, and F-Bombs. We don't need that here, and I applaud the film company for delivering a PG-13 movie that I would certainly watch again; possibly even with my son.

It's possible that MR JONES would work better with the younger crowd, but for seasoned genre vets who've seen almost every thing, the movie doesn't quite offer enough to warrant a strong recommendation. It is, however, well-made, and Mueller does a lot with what he had at his disposal. I loved THE DIVIDE, but MR JONES is simply the kind of movie that would play well on cable television on a rainy afternoon.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

MR JONES comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The disc is well-mastered, and the slipcover for the case is pretty great; visually.

Video Quality (4/5)

Anchor Bay's recent acquisitions usually look good-to-great on Blu-ray, and MR JONES has a very good transfer. Given the supposed source material, it makes sense that the quality varies from scene to scene.

Audio Quality (4/5)

MR JONES comes with a Dolby True HD 5.1 audio track that never truly wows, but is entirely serviceable. Don't expect to be blown away, but the track is solid, and it features some nice ambience.

Extra Features (0/5)

There are absolutely no extras on the disc, which is kind of a shame.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, MR JONES is a decent enough film; even though it never really delivers on it's premise. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray looks and sounds very good, but unfortunately, it has no extras at all. This is a rental for sure.

Blu-ray Score


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