[Blu-ray Review] ‘Mr. Jones’ Blows Its Promising Premise


One of the most frustrating things a horror movie can do is waste an interesting premise. Such is the case with Karl Mueller’s debut feature Mr. Jones, which blows its promising concept of metaphysical dreamscapes and a monster doubling as an avant-garde artist on boring imagery and tired found footage thrills. It feels like Mueller (who co-wrote 2011’s The Divide) came up with notion for a cool and unique film but wasn’t sure how to pull it off.

The film follows aspiring documentary filmmaker Scott (Jon Foster) and his girlfriend Penny (Sarah Jones), who he’s dragged to an isolated cabin out in the desert somewhere. She left behind her entire life so Scott can fulfill his nature documentary fantasy, so when he begins slipping in his filming efforts, some friction between them sparks resentment. It doesn’t help that Scott’s always filming everything with a very awkward camera rig that films what’s in front of him and his own face at the same time. I’m all for innovative techniques in found footage movies, but Scott’s method just seems uncomfortable.

While he’s filming one of his nature segments (which is actually him whining about filming a nature segment), his backpack is stolen by a mysterious hooded figure. When Penny and him go to investigate the man, they discover that he’s the elusive Mr. Jones – a cult figure of the avant-garde art scene who anonymously leaves skull-ridden totems in various locations. Penny compares him to J.D. Salinger and Banksy, only I don’t think those guys lumbered around the desert in a hooded cloak, carting around bones and twigs. Maybe they did, what do I know?

Here the film jumps to documentary style talking head interviews where experts, art critics, fans, etc. discuss Mr. Jones. Some of the folks urge Scott to avoid contact with Mr. Jones because he may be a guardian-like figure keeping evil from the dream world at bay with his totems. Again, this talking-head segment feels like Mueller may be fluffing out the film because of shortcomings in the story.

Scott and Penny see this is as their chance to make a groundbreaking documentary about Mr. Jones, so they do the most logical thing they can think of: break into his house and go through his shit. Even for a horror film these two are a couple of real knuckleheads.

The film takes a startling turns towards balls-out supernatural horror during its third act. There’s a lot of static and visual noise as scenes from earlier are replayed from a different angle, offering up questions of what really happened. There’s a loose idea of changing identities going on, with Scott and Penny’s dream-alter-egos running about because Mr. Jones’ sanctum was disturbed, but it’s tough to tell what the hell is going on during the visual assault that makes up this segment. It’s a whole lotta noise.

Mueller begins with a promising idea, then pads it out with talking head interviews and a barrage of disorientating images. It’s engaging stuff for about 20 minutes, but by the end of the film it felt like Mueller simply didn’t know what to do with all of his ideas.

Mr. Jones is available now on Blu-ray and DVD. No special features are included.

Official Score

  • http://moviepilot.com/desolateearth K. Lee Adams

    This movie had me so creeped out but then it all went downhill. So disappointing.

  • Garbageface

    This is one of the very few horror movies in recent memory that really got under my skin. The last twenty minutes had me totally riveted and disoriented and I loved every second of it.


    I really liked this movie. I can’t quite see why all the critics hate it, and most regular viewers too. I thought it was so original and creative, especially towards the end… which is what everyone hates the most about it. Oh well.

  • chambertlo

    This is one of those movies where the premise is solid, but the filmmakers just have no idea how to execute it. I was really disappointed by this movie. It wasn’t scary, creepy, or even interesting. It just dragged on, with very little happening, that by the end of the movie I was just glad it was over. A complete waste.

  • zigwardScissorHands

    The idea of a reclusive artist whose art effects people’s live has incredible potential for a horror film. There is so much that could be done with it, you could create a completely enthralling mythology so it is such a shame where this film went and how it went there. I was pretty interested at the introduction of Mr Jones and even found the fake documentary style to be an effective way of telling his story. But that soon fell apart pretty hard. The final act of the film is a god damn mess. It’s like the film makers didn’t want you to see a damn thing, It’s completely disorientating but not in a good way. I was just begging for the film to hold still for second. Instead of twisting, turning and cutting to close ups with a wide angle lens actually hold on something and let me be scared!

    The last act actually reminded me of a student film I made where I was trying to “disorient” the viewer in a similar way. I failed the project. It didn’t fly for a student film so it sure as shit shouldn’t fly for a commercial production.

  • Niala Wesley

    I just watched it and it’s really confusing. I couldn’t tell if Scott was really Mr. Jones all along or if Scott became the next guardian of dreams or if Mr. Jones was trying to switch places with Scott or if they imagined all the paranormal or if they really did end up half in the dream world or if it was something else entirely.