Mr. Jones, the Tribeca Film Festival favorite that’s finally been released to home video. It’s an unconventional horror mashup that starts as a found footage flick and morphs into… well, something else. It’s a surreal trip that maintains only one foot firmly on the ground and succeeds in giving the viewer a perplexing and disorienting experience, even if there’s little plot or character development.
The two charismatic actors at the center really seem to be experiencing the terrifying events, and we root for Scott (John Foster) from the beginning. He’s the struggling documentary/filmmaker who’s trying to figure who – or what – their neighbor Mr. Jones is. There’s a questionable notion that Mr. Jones is a reclusive artist, like Banksy, that no one has ever seen but whose subversive art is renown and sought after. The art in question is terrifying scarecrows assembled from sticks, stones and bones.
The scarecrows for the movie were created by infamous and elusive Pumpkinrot, the artist/home haunter/blogger who has inspired a legion of followers with his own frightening Halloween art. For a second, I wondered if this was a biographical piece on Pumpkinrot, but alas our story takes an ambiguous turn into the supernatural. Going into the reason Mr. Jones creates this scarecrows would spoil the fun, but I did appreciate that these totems are a core element of the story and not just window dressing.
Even with so much positive results, the last half hour is frustrating with it’s abstract and largely unexplained qualities. It bears repeating that this is more of a film to “experience” rather than pick apart for narrative. So much is left to interpretation but if you know some basic Halloween history, a little bit about Lovecraft lore, and a sprinkling of imagination, you can connect the dots to a story much greater than what is shown. That’s a lot to ask of an audience, even for dedicated horror fans, but there’s enough entertainment value and genuine creepiness to satisfy most audiences.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve have a very specific Theory and Explanation of Mr. Jones. I won’t post it yet because it’s full of spoilers and personal conjecture but if you are interested in reading it or sharing your interpretations, please contact me (form on the right column).