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Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Mr. Jones  (2014)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
2 Stars
(Release Date: May 6, 2014) – A liberal take-off on the found-footage horror boom of the last several years, "Mr. Jones" begins as such, with aspiring filmmaker Scott (Jon Foster) and wife Penny (Sarah Jones) dropping their hectic city lives for an extended rural retreat in the mountains. Scott is hoping to find inspiration for a nature documentary he wants to make, but it quickly settles in that he has not satisfactorily thought his plan out. Penny's frustrations escalate as Scott stops taking his medication and grows distant, but they are both reinvigorated when a hooded figure snatches Scott's bag and escapes into the ridge. The couple follow him and discover they are residing within walking distance to Mr. Jones (Mark Steger), a famed artist so reclusive that he has become something of an urban legend. Sneaking into his home, they find heaps of heretofore undiscovered scarecrow totems—his art pieces of choice—and begin plotting an exposé centering on the mythos surrounding him.

Any logical person would take one look at the shadowy, garishly visaged Mr. Jones and the dank, frightening catacombs of his hideaway and get the hell out of dodge. Any respectful person wouldn't even enter a complete stranger's house and start snooping around. Roughly thirty minutes into "Mr. Jones," Scott and Penny have been penned by first-time director Karl Mueller (screenwriter of 2012's "The Divide") as entitled, insensitive yuppies so caught up in themselves that they don't even think about the possibility that a potentially very dangerous phantom is living next door. Even more outside the realms of belief, Scott hops a plane to Manhattan to start interviewing experts of the art world for his new doc, leaving Penny for over a week by herself. In the middle of nowhere. Living next to a blanketed hermit who looks like Leatherface's slightly chillier twin. Mixing raw footage (albeit scored to music) with talking-head interviews before becoming a conventionally shot narrative by the third act, "Mr. Jones" evokes an atmosphere of dread while following protagonists who are blissfully ignorant bordering on shockingly, idiotically brazen.

"Mr. Jones" is fascinating in certain respects, most notably in its depiction of what might happen if one was to inadvertently stumble upon an underground celebrity who, until now, had never actually been glimpsed by the outside public. Sure, they would likely be curious, but would they invade his space if his home was basically a dungeon of the macabre? The film takes a sharp turn in the second half, and not for the better, seguing to dreamlike abstraction where what is truly going on may or may not be happening. Stylistic choices, including the editing's incessant fades to black every thirty seconds, become tedious, and the eerie tension of the earlier scenes dissipates every second the story drifts from reality. In attempting to experiment with horror tropes and the found-footage format, director Karl Mueller tries too hard and walks away with a muddled, drastically uneven hodgepodge. In this case, less would have turned out to be much more.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound
 A/A-

Running 84 minutes, "Mr. Jones" was shot entirely with digital cameras, and so the visual qualities of the image rarely change no matter if it is a conventionally shot scene, faux-documentary talking heads, or found footage (the film traverses all three). It is a testament to the sterling 1080p transfer that the picture looks absolutely stunning, with deep, inky blacks and liberal dimensionality. Daytime segments are awash in detail, while the sequences of low light are purely resolved and absolutely free of banding, blockiness, edge enhancement, or any other anomalies. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is exceedingly complex in its sound design, moving across all planes of the surround field to create an immersive aural experience. The lossless track's only flaw? An end-credits song so heavy in bass that its mix (no matter what volume the television is at) distorts the soundtrack in a really unpleasant way. Fortunately, this occurs after the movie proper is over.

Blu-ray Features
Unfortunately, there are no special features included.

Bottom Line
The one-part creepy, one-part foolish "Mr. Jones" has its plusses and minuses. It is an interesting film, but not an entirely successful one. Horror buffs might want to take a gander and, if so, this Blu-ray release from Anchor Bay Entertainment is certainly the way to go. For a film of modest means, it looks and sounds exceptional. The lack of bonus content, though, makes it a rental at best for those who aren't already fans.

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© 2014 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman