Thursday, September 17, 2015

In short: X Moor (2014)

American hobby cryptozoologist Georgia (Melia Kreiling) and her cameraman boyfriend Matt (Nick Blood, confusingly enough doing what I suppose is to be meant an American accent) go on a trip on the moors of Devon (as played by the moors of Ireland) to find one of the purported large wild cats prowling there. After a bit of random violence has established that everyone in the UK is crazy, they meet up with an old friend of Georgia’s, the experienced hunter Fox (Mark Bonnar) to help them get the cat. Too bad he seems to be rather crazy too.

Alas, they soon enough don’t stumble upon an aggressive cat but the dumping grounds of a serial killer. Turns out he is what Fox has been hunting all along, he just didn’t tell our heroes this is a vigilante expedition because, umm, yeah, it’s in the script. For the same reason, our heroes go along with this brilliant new plan of hunting a serial killer in the woods while carrying a single gun and having one actual wilderness survival expert. Various twists of increasing implausibility and annoyance happen.

I know, I know, I’ve complained here often enough about horror films not having any ambitions and just trotting around the most well-worn paths imaginable, so it’s somewhat ironic that I’m now criticizing Luke Hyams’s X Moor (and its horrible title) for trying the opposite. The emphasis though lies on the trying: as long as X Moor is a film about a bunch of walking dead trying to hunt down a monster, it’s reasonably effective, with Hyams promising a safe grip on the usual suspense techniques, a decent cast, and some moody landscape shots (which I am a sucker for).

However, once it becomes a twists and turns movie, X Moor loses most of that in favour of random jump scares, random (in the sense of “not being actually prepared by the script”) twists, and characters acting ever more stupid in a way that can’t be explained anymore by them being panicked but only by them being horror movie characters, while the actors are becoming increasingly ineffective because they have to react to random crap in improbable ways. Where most films of the sort do at least have a planned increase of suspense and tension, this one has just stuff that happens because any twist is good as long as it makes no sense in the context of what came before, right?

And so, a harmless, yet competent little movie turns into a mess that’s bound to annoy.

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