Netflix Roulette – Mr. Jones

I’m at a loss on where to start with this one… I really, really, really didn’t like it… I mean, a part of me wanted to give up on writing about horror movies after finishing this film. The weird thing is that this movie actually had quite a bit going for it… but it flushed all of that good will and ended up being a pretentious piece of garbage (here’s a little behind-the-scenes snippet… I try to keep this blog swear-free (though, to be honest I’m not sure why… I mean, I swear quite a bit in real life (maybe I did it as a challenge… maybe I’m afraid I would start using it as a crutch)))… this was the closest I’ve come to swearing… In fact, I actually wrote and deleted an alternative word nearly a dozen times, before I landed on garbage… no, you know what, this one deserves it… this movie is a pretentious piece of absolute shit!

Okay, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. What is Mr. Jones about… who knows… but I’ll give it shot. A married couple decides to move to the woods for a year in order to shoot a nature documentary (I guess). While out in the woods they discover several stick-figure scarecrows that the wife recognizes as belonging to Mr. Jones (hence the name) a reclusive artist who no one has every been able to identify (think Banksy… if Banksy was obsessed with Burning Man). They decide to investigate the artist. Then a bunch of random crap happens… shaky footage… screaming… yelling… flashing lights… and credits.

I think I’m so angry at this movie (and that is truly the emotion I experienced most during the last thirty minutes of the film), because it had potential. It is a genuinely interesting plot and there are a lot of great ideas. The problem is that the filmmaker (Karl Mueller (pulling double duty as writer and director)) was more obsessed with making a trippy-movie (I was originally going to say artsy… but that’s actively offensive to art) than making a movie with anything resembling a narrative. So, if you’re not in the mood for negativity stop reading here… I assure you I will have nothing good to say from here on out.

The biggest issue with this movie is that it takes the found-footage film route. Now, I’m sure at this point you think I’m going to go into my usual diatribe about the pitfalls of this genre of film (the use of soundtracks and sound effects that suggests nonsensical postproduction, too-perfect blocking and framing, the inability to explain why the characters would be filming, etc.)… well, you’re wrong… okay, maybe not wrong… more like half right. All of those problems are present (especially the lack of an explanation for why they’re filming certain things (you would not film yourself chasing after someone who stole your backpack (especially if you’re only shooting a nature documentary)), but that’s not the issue. Especially since there is one of the biggest cheats I’ve ever seen in a horror movie (more on this later). Here’s the biggest issue: the filmmaker plays around with the faulty narrator trope. Personally, this is one of my favorite things in books and movies… it encourages multiple viewings and readings. However, when you combine this with the found-footage genre something goes horribly wrong. You have a completely objective narrator (the camera)… so, when something happens on screen (either visually or auditory) there is no way to question what you’re seeing (or hearing). You can’t assume the main character is lying to you or going insane (especially since the camera, not the person, is the narrator). Now, to be fair, the filmmaker tries to resolve this in the last twenty minutes or so or the movie, but again, this felt more like a cheat than an explanation. With fifteen minutes left in the movie I wrote “there is no what this thing can end in any satisfying or logical way”… and guess what, I was right.

I really don’t have much more to say about this movie. It’s just boring, confusing, and, honestly, takes advantage of the viewers… assuming that they will accept anything you put in front of them. Here’s the major take away: creativity and originality does not always guarantee quality. Also, thinking you’re clever doesn’t make you clever…

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