31 Days of Halloween — Day 22: Mr. Jones (2013) — by Dr. Shock

Mr Jones 2013

Editor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

“Scott (Jon Foster) is planning to shoot a nature documentary and convinces his wife Penny (Sarah Jones) to move out to the country with him, where they’ll spend a year living in an isolated cabin. A few weeks in, though, Scott realizes his film has no focus, and begins to lose interest in the project.

Then, one day, while he’s out shooting in the woods, Scott’s backpack is stolen by a mysterious stranger, who quickly retreats to a nearby house. When Scott and Penny sneak into this house to retrieve it, they make a startling discovery: The man who lives there is none other than Mr. Jones, a recluse whose unique scarecrows took the art world by storm in the 1970s.

Excited that they’re the only two people in the world who’ve seen him in the flesh, Penny talks Scott into abandoning his nature movie to instead shoot a documentary about Mr. Jones. But a follow-up trip to Mr. Jones’ house causes them to realize his scarecrows serve a greater purpose, and by dabbling in things they shouldn’t have, the couple has unleashed a force that threatens both their lives and the well-being of the entire planet.

Released in 2013, Mr. Jones is a unique entry in the found footage subgenre in that it doesn’t limit itself to the conventions of that format. First off, the film occasionally has Scott act as narrator, to clue us in on what’s going through his mind (early on, he laments the fact that he dragged his wife into the woods for a movie he no longer wants to make).

In addition, the movie seldom worries about justifying why the camera is always running (some scenes, especially one set in a bedroom at night, are framed in such a way that we don’t even know where the camera could have possibly been placed).

Most interesting of all, though, is the final act, at which point Scott and Penny find themselves trapped in a nightmare where they’re both the observers and the observed. After seeing dozens of these movies try to explain why their footage exists in the first place, it was nice to experience one that wants you to simply accept it on its own terms, with no questions asked.

Though the movie does flounder toward the end, when jarring cuts and excessive shaky cam are the rule as opposed to the exception, Mr. Jones is an engaging, sometimes creepy film that deserves points for setting itself apart from the rest.”

—Dr. Shock

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16 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 22: Mr. Jones (2013) — by Dr. Shock

  1. 31 Days of Halloween day 21

    45. Pay the Ghost (***) – Come for the Cage; stay for the plot conveniences. A blind guy gives him a flashlight he desperately needs!
    46. The Brood (***) – One of my favourite Oliver Reed performances opposite a horrifying birth scene which is not as gross as a real birth scene I watched during sex ed class.
    47. Dude Bro Party Massacre 3 (*****) – From the people behind 5 second films. Very funny plus it has Patton Oswalt, Andrew WK, Greg Sestero, Nina Hartley, and lots of the faces behind Cracked.com and Video Game High School.

  2. (Contains spoilers)

    Day 22 – The Asphyx (1973)

    Let’s start off with how I watched this as it ended up being fairly significant. I watched it for free over on Amazon Prime. Before the movie began, a notice came on the screen that the film is comprised of an HD print and several SD scenes were inserted into creating this complete/extended cut of The Asphyx. As a result, the video quality does differ a good deal at various points. It’s a bit distracting and the only other times I’ve dealt with this is with the Halloween 6 Producer’s Cut, back when the bootleg copies improved in a big way thanks to the Halloween 6 DVD, and Silent Night, Deadly Night. I’m not sure what the deal was with the SD scenes, but most of them felt fairly important, so it seemed odd if they were purposely edited out of the movie. I don’t know if this had anything to do with this, but there were a lot of moments where the editing seemed fairly abrupt and random.

    As far as similarities go, The Asphyx reminded me of several other horrors. The main one being Frankenstein. In both cases, you have a brilliant man who makes the foolish decision to try and play God. Both Dr. Frankenstein and Hugo Cunningham are good guys, they do not mean to cause any harm, but they become a bit obsessed when they begin to come close to making history. It all goes back to that great Jurassic Park quote by Ian Malcom, “…Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should”. In the second half of the film, you get a sense that you’re watching a vampire film, only it’s a vampire movie without any…vampires? A lot of the talk turned to having the ability to have immortality, the concept of being with the one you love for the rest of eternity, and there’s even one scene where we find Hugo locked in a coffin down in his basement to prove his immortality to his daughter. All that was missing was for Hugo to open his mouth to reveal his fangs. There was another horror movie that sprang to mind while watching this, but as luck will have it, it’s completely slipped my mind at this moment. So just pretend I listed another one here.

    The biggest flaw of the movie was all of the illogical moments and plot holes. The most laughable one being the means in which Hugo plans to draw the asphyx out of his daughter. When he did it to himself, he created an electric chair. Seems good to me. Here, he decides to use a guillotine! Sure, they had an idea that the blade wouldn’t actually reach Christina’s neck. In addition, the blade wouldn’t actually hurt Christina. It’s terrifying, but it wouldn’t actually harm her, unlike his electric char. Still, it’s such a dangerous idea. One little botch and you chop your daughter’s head off. Even if you do manage to capture her asphyx, what good will it do if she doesn’t have a head? The death somehow gets worse as the main flaw was that Hugo installed rubber tubing to bring in a source of water so that the machine wouldn’t run out of water. Yet, the process doesn’t take too long. Chances are, if you’re not going to be able to transfer the asphyx within a few moment’s time, you’re not going to do so. Then there’s the mouse that despite a previous scene in which Christina let the mouse out of the house, somehow made it’s way back into the house and chewed on the rubber tubing. Christina died because of one of the worst possible plans that Hugo could have thought up. It’s truly amazing how many problems the plan had.

    The flaws continue with the big plot point of Hugo wanting to free his own asphyx after the death of his daughter, but is unable to do so due to only Giles having the combo to the lock in the basement, where the asphyx was located. Forget about the combination lock. There’s a lot of ways to get into that cellar. You’re a rich guy, go hire someone to bring in a sledgehammer and create a hole in the wall. How about just turning off the water on your property so that the pipes stop dripping over the asphyx box, so that the asphyx would be freed as soon as the final water drop fell. At the very end of the movie, Giles kills himself as payback for Hugo’s poor management leading to Christina’s death to ensure that Hugo will never be able to touch his asphyx (If you ignore all of the other possible ways). Yet, there’s one scene where Giles burns up the paper with the combo and prior to setting up his death, Giles gave Hugo the paper with the “Combo”. What’s actually in the sealed envelope? Who knows. Rather than opening it up, Hugo just burns it. This sort of setting up a future event and not paying off happens a lot in the movie. There’s a couple of times early in the movie where Hugo talks to his butler about the butler’s sister’s illness. The natural assumption is that Hugo will eventually see the butler’s sister’s death to try and grab her asphyx. It never gets mentioned again after the second talk with the butler. There’s a whole first act plot with Hugo’s business partner that evolves into the partner suspecting something’s up, but we never see the partner again after he failed to get Christina to reveal what her father was up to in secret.

    Despite all of the issues, I do like the very basic plot. The idea of never having to worry about death has been around since the dawn of time. Although Hugo made so many mistakes, you still feel sympathy for him due to his relationship with death. His first wife died shortly after the death of their two kids. He witnessed his son’s death at the same time as his fiancee, who he was set to marry the following week. He’s now reached a point where he can’t cope with death, thus his pursuit for immortality for himself, Christina, and Giles. I even like the idea of Hugo forcing himself to endure a never ending life where he’s refusing to let himself stop thinking about the deaths of his loved ones. I also liked Giles’ being so enraged with Christina’s death that he never wanted to allow Hugo to die as payback. Yet, why did he have to die? He could have simply moved away, never letting Hugo know the combo to the lock. I guess there’s the whole depression leading to committing suicide, but it doesn’t work too well for me.

    Overall, The Asphyx is a highly flawed film that even comes close to being downright laughable. It’s unfortunate considering the fact that the plot did have potential. It’s the type of movie that is ideal for being remade.

    I’d give it a 5.5 and a low priority rental. Especially check it out if you want to see some non-Hammer old school British horror.

  3. I don’t know if I’ve shared my thoughts on Mr. Jones on here before, but I thought it had some good potential on paper. It just never lives up to said potential though. Rather than create a third act, they just go for bizarre craziness that didn’t do anything for me. By the end, I felt like I had wasted ninety minutes when there wasn’t any favorable payoff.

    It is different though. So if you’re sick of the same old found footage movies, check Mr. Jones out if you want something fresh.

    • I agree that the movie went to bizarro land in the end. I guess it did work for me, though, at least to some degree. I liked how the confusion I felt was similar to the confusion the characters were feeling. That said, I think a different type of ending could have been more effective and satisfying.

  4. Day 22: Halloween: Resurrection
    So now I’m almost caught up on the Halloween franchise. I just need to see Rob Zombies, Halloween 2 but Im’ in no rush, maybe next October. This film was ok. The idea of a found footage type plot device was fine with me but this movie just didn’t feel like the rest of the franchise. I enjoyed H20 more.

    • Just find pictures of a white horse and yell the “F” word out loud a couple hundred of times and you’ll experience RZ’s Halloween 2.

      • Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN 2 gets a bad wrap mostly for a good reason, but I think the movie is worth watching for the opening 20 minutes or so (namely, the hospital scene). It’s also easily the most brutal portrayal of Michael Myers in any of the films, which is kind of cool to see (that hitchhiking scene… wow).

        But, yeah, mostly it’s just bad.

        • Don’t try to stick up for Rob Zombie. You’re better than that, Dino.

          Praising Unfriended was one thing, but slightly defending RZ’s Halloween 2 is a whole other thing.

          • Is saying “mostly it’s just bad” sticking up for Rob Zombie? Hmmmm…

            I stand by my words, though – that hospital scene was really kind of excellent.

            And UNFRIENDED is slightly better than not half bad.

            • Saying a SINGLE good thing about a movie that literally sucked the happiness out of my life is one positive thing too many. I can’t see colors anymore. Flowers no longer smell good. I no longer feel the warm embrace of the sun. It’s all blackness because of that movie. I weep for the children of the future due to living in a world where THAT movie exists.

              The horror…the HORROR 😐

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