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Review: 'Mr. Jones' trades creepy for chaotic

We're back in the woods with a camera for the horror film "Mr. Jones," a nature-meets-nightmare tale that unfortunately gets lost in its own thicket of tricks.

Restless, artsy-minded couple Scott (Jon Foster) and Penny (Sarah Jones) leave civilization behind for a remote cabin so he can make a nature film, which excuses — I mean explains — the movie's found-footage format.

Instead, the pair get sidetracked by the oddly silent, hooded figure wandering the landscape at night. A breathless break-in to the mystery man's underground lair suggests he's the notorious Mr. Jones, a reclusive artist credited with sending eerily ornate scarecrow figures to random citizens. The discovery prompts the couple to shift focus to making an investigative documentary, which (conveniently) entails more POV camera work.

PHOTOS: Box office top 10 of 2013

Writer-director Karl Mueller's commitment to building a weird mythic character of dubious motives is admirable, but what sinks "Mr. Jones" is a prolonged second-half psychic breakdown scenario in which Scott and Penny enter a split-consciousness nightmare world so darkly lighted, gimmicky and overedited, it neither scares nor disturbs.

"Mr. Jones" has the bones of something freaky but succumbs to a penchant for alienating chaos over sustained, abiding creep.

------------------

"Mr. Jones."

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.

Rated: PG-13 for terror, sexuality and brief language.

Playing: At Arena Cinema, Hollywood.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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