The Moor - FrightFest World Premiere
Director: Chris Cronin
Starring: Sophia La Porta, David Edward-Robertson, Elizabeth Dormer-Philips, Bernard Hill
Written by: Paul Thomas
Produced by: Chris Cronin, Paweł Pracz, Paul Thomas
Cinematography by: Sam Cronin
Original Score by: Nir Perlman
Claire is approached by the father of her murdered childhood friend to help investigate the haunted moor he believes is his son's final resting place.
The advantage British horror has over other countries horror is that every small town in England looks like it came straight out of a nightmare when it’s presented in the right way. Something like 'The Wicker Man' looks like a delightful time, until y’know, all the burning happens but the way Harry Waxman shot 'The Wicker Man' gave the whole island a naturally off feeling. Even a TV show like 'The League of Gentlemen' use a small town like Royston Vasey, and because of its horrific residents, it almost gives the town an undercurrent that something at the root of the town is making things evil. So, when it comes to 'The Moor', they almost have an easy set up for creating scares by using somewhere so visually interesting, yet has the underbelly of fear built in. Director Chris Cronin has an opportunity here to create something special. Using an already interesting landscape and basing a story full of loss and regret, could be a perfect recipe for a more emotional horror film, similar to movies like 'The Babadook' and 'It Follows'.
The opening of the film is really well shot and presented in “one take”. Showing how things can change in the blink of an eye and change your life forever. Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn’t follow suit with any sort of style. At times I felt like I was watching a Sunday night BBC Two drama, and while that’s not an entirely bad thing, it’s just not my thing and not what I expect from a feature film. The script doesn’t help with this problem either. Penned by Paul Thomas, each scene lacks any real excitement in the dialogue. It’s not terrible and I never cringed at any of the scenes, but it was just painfully boring at times because it felt like you’ve seen scenes like this a million times before.
Even when it comes to the horror aspect, there’s a scene that straight up ripped from 'The Conjuring 2'. It’s a decent scene but we’ve seen it done before in a much better film. The overall story is good in concept but feels like it’s being dragged out to a 2-hour runtime. This easily could have been an 80-minute film and a maybe would have hit harder, rather than feeling unnecessarily long.
The acting is decent, everyone is doing a serviceable job but like I said, they’re all being undercut by the lacklustre script. The two main stars, Sophia La Porta and David Edward-Robertson are very watchable. Both actors are great at playing characters who have lost someone and feel at blame for that loss. Edward-Robertson's character has a lot to work through as a grieving father who doesn’t want to give up on hope and I feel like he’d be amazing to see live in theatre.
The standout from the cast though is Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, who plays Eleanor, a young psychic girl helping with the investigation of the lost son. As soon as she comes on screen, Dormer-Phillips creates an energy that is instantly watchable, and you can’t wait to see what she does next. There’s a scene towards the end of the film where Eleanor becomes possessed and it's genuinely impressive how Dormer-Phillips is able to contort her body.
'The Moor' tackles the subject of grief and loss with a supernatural twist, but ultimately fails to capture any excitement in the thrills department. At times, the film is beautifully shot but is let down by its weak script and its lack of confidence in its own horror aspects.
- Adam Neeson
'The Moor' received its World Premiere at Frightfest '23 on August 26th