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2014 MHHFF Review: ‘XMoor’

The film, which enjoyed its U.S. premiere Oct. 10 at the Mile High Horror Film Festival, follows a pair of videographers hoping to track down the beast capable of shredding sheep in an English moor.

The setting is fresh, the accused creatures rarely tapped, and the leads are capable enough to carry the film when the horror elements recede.

It’s a shame that “XMoor” sheds its intrigue in the final act, becoming a competent but otherwise unnecessary addition to the genre.

 

Fledgling videographers Georgia and Matt (Melia Kreiling, Nick Blood) lunge at the chance to snap video of whatever is attacking sheep in a sleepy stretch of English land. The task promises a huge reward, more than enough incentive for them to give it a try. Georgia enlists an old friend named Fox (Mark Bonnar), a fellow with a knack for tracking, to capture what’s dubbed the “Beast of Exmoor.” Big cats are his specialty, and he assume that’s what they’ll find.

Together, the trio hits the trail, but mistrust bubbles up right from the start. It’s here where writer/director Luke Hyams stokes our interest. Matt isn’t exactly the gung ho type, while Fox’s motivations seem murky at best.

A random meeting with two Molotov cocktail wielding strangers sets everyone on edge.

Hyams unveils the threat faced by the trio in classic horror movie fashion. Drip, drip … gusher. He also indulges in some of the weaker tropes of the genre, like a parade of cheap scares. When the adventurers learn the nature of their enemy, their choices present a moral tug of war delivered with clarity and conviction. Felix Erskine’s score adds to the tension, a deft blend of old-school horror and modern sensibilities.

What’s revealed, ultimately, is a disappointment, even if Hyams stages it as if it’s the first time a horror film wrapped in such a conventional fashion.

The addition of a creepy girl character and a drug addict enhance the unease permeating “X Moor,” a mood which climaxes in the film’s second, not third, act.

Hyams’ ” Moor” needs improvement, but he flashes a grasp of the genre that could serve him well in future outings.

DID YOU KNOW: ‘XMoor’ was shot in Northern Ireland in December, and the cast and crew had to deal with frigid conditions and plenty of sloppy terrain.

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