Sunday 16 June 2024

Horror Film Review: The Moor (2023) ★★★★☆ (Independent Film)

The greatest horror on-screen is often not in the vengeful spirits or undead corpses, but in the terror of everyday events. When somebody you love is missing, it sucks the air right out of your lungs and you can’t shift your thoughts away from them for one moment. The not-knowing makes your mind circle in an endless loop, one that is never quite completed. For some of us, that moment passes and our loved one is found; for others, 25 years go by without a shadow of resolution. Chris Cronin’s feature length debut The Moor delves into the mind of a grieving father, 25 years after his son disappeared without a trace.

25 years ago, 5 children disappeared without a trace
Now the darkness that took them has returned

The Moor (2023) poster landscape

The Moor opens with a single-take scene in the mid-90s. A young girl Claire encourages her best friend Danny to go into a shop to disturb the shopkeeper while she steals sweets. In the blink of an eye, a man enters the store, takes Danny and disappears with him. As the excellent opening credits roll with archive footage and VHS glitching, we learn that it is the “Summer of Fear”. Five children will disappear before the perpetrator is caught and put away for 25 years.

Set in Yorkshire, England, The Moor is beautifully atmospheric with sweeping shots of the barren moors and postcard views of the local town. Snippets of a documentary are featured throughout the film, giving the impression that this is a town defined by the Summer of Fear, one where young people left in droves following the terrible events of their childhoods.

Returning to her hometown for the first time in years, Claire (Sophia La Porta) meets up with Danny’s father Bill (David Edward-Robertson). Using increasingly esoteric techniques, and with the help of local psychic Eleanor (Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips) and guide Liz (Vicki Hackett), Bill shares that he is continuing the search for Danny on the moors where he is believes his son was buried.

Despite her visceral fear and deep-seated reservations, Claire agrees to join Bill. It soon becomes clear that they are dealing with a greater evil than they could ever have anticipated. They have already lost so much, what more does the moor want to take from them?

The Moor is frankly terrifying in parts, with the scenes in the séance and later on the moor forever embedded on my memory. Toeing the line between true crime and the supernatural, Chris Cronin delivers a nail-biting ride.

The Moor benefits from superb acting from the entire cast, be it interviewees in the documentary or the children in the opening scene. La Porta and Edward-Robertson shine as Claire and Bill, both in the carrying of their trauma and in the tentative, gentle way they treat one another.

The effect is addictive. I couldn’t draw my eyes away for screen for one moment, desperate to learn more about the forces at play in the moor, the nature of the great evil and the whereabouts of the children.

“There’s a time to accept that some things will always be senseless” – Claire

The thing about missing people is that you don’t always get a resolution. Children disappear and their parents can go to their graves without ever knowing what happened. Throughout the film, the audience is constantly haunted by the ghost of Keith Bennett, the Moors Murders victim whose remains were never found. Ultimately, The Moor buckles under the weight of that horrific burden, unable to resist the urge to close the circle. The final scene of the film, filmed used the found-footage conceit, provides an unnecessary and deeply unsatisfying ending to an otherwise excellent film.

In the end, I had to accept that no matter how conflicted I felt about that ending, how little it made sense, it achieved two outcomes: I couldn’t stop thinking about the film, for days after watching it, but I was also reminded that resolutions are seldom satisfying in legacy missing persons cases.

Despite my ambivalence, I give The Moor an excellent four out of five stars. I imagine I won't be the only viewer conflicted by the ending but on the whole, The Moor delivered on scares, atmosphere and performances. This was an impressive feature debut from director Chris Cronin and a welcome addition to the British folk-horror genre.

The Moor will be in UK Cinemas from 14th June and Digital Download from 1st July

The Moor (2023) Trailer. Directed by Chris Cronin

No comments

Post a Comment

© 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig