Event special -The Moor Review

Epitomising looming doom amidst a backdrop of murky greys and even murkier secrets is The Moor, a new and unmissable horror directed by Chris Cronin and written by Paul Thomas. Weaponising the beauty and dread of slow-burn terror, combined with the dramatic performances and startling dark narrative, equips the film with mystery and intrigue, making it one of 2023’s Frightfest’s best screeners. 

The film begins in ‘God’s Own Country’, also known as Yorkshire, in 1996. Youngsters Claire (Billie Suggett) and Danny (Dexter Sol Ansell) hatch a plan to steal sweets from a corner shop, with Danny distracting the shopkeeper whilst Claire fills her bag. Claire successfully leaves (treats acquired); however, Danny never leaves the shop. A compilation of archival footage and newspaper clippings show that Danny’s disappearance was only a notch in the belt of a long line of child abductions in the area. Now, 25 years on, the man supposedly behind the tragedies is set to be released from prison, leaving Danny’s still distraught father, Bill (David Edward-Robertson), hellbent on finding his son’s remains to close the situation once and for all. With the help of Claire (now played by Sophia La Porta), her podcast, and a curious crew, they set off into the Yorkshire Moors to decode this grand mystery once and for all.

The complex backdrop is rife with a pitch-black horrific context of missing persons, death and unresolved trauma, making for a sorrowful feature that is reminiscent of the plague conjured by grief and heartbreak. Although all of these intense emotions speak to the film’s ability to tug on the affections of viewers and their own fears of losing someone, what is perhaps the most stringent element to diffuse from the fantastic smorgasbord of thematics is The Moor’s exhibition of the ‘unknown’. Much of the film toys with the mystery of what is dubbed as the Summer of Fear, the year that all of these strange disappearances happened. Despite the perpetrator’s conviction, there are too many occurrences that do not sit straight, which catalyses the primary storyline of Bill and Claire, uncovering the dark truth behind it all. 

Little is known, and little is revealed until the very end, leaving the viewer sat in trepidation, stewing at the thought, and imagining a plethora of horrid scenarios; essentially, Cronin employs our dark imaginations and forces us to manifest horridness throughout the film. In keeping with this ‘thiller-ific’ psychological torture is how The Moor captures and presents its melodic meaning on screen. The cinematography takes advantage of the rural British countryside and all of its folkloric, haunting discourse to showcase not just visually captivating shots of foggy greenery and daunting skies but also intimate shots of the characters as their psyches are ripped apart and shattered by the horrors of The Moor. 

All of the carefully composed mayhem throughout would not be the same without the showstopping performances from the cast, particularly from the characters of Claire and Bill. They each embrace the cryptic tone of the film, carefully expressing immense emotions to pair perfectly with the big reveals. Their emotions are consistently raw and authentic, managing to not fall into the trap of being caricatures of grief.

Adjacent to the stellar staging is the film’s homegrown feel that amplifies the effective eerieness cultivated throughout British horror. The actual Moors residing in the north of England are home to a barrage of lore, with the lush, heathered Moors being at the centre of many ghost stories and legends. Cronin’s clever use of fabled trickery forces us, especially those familiar with the Moor landscape, to re-examine the depth and capabilities of those horrific tales that keep you up at night – does something unexplainable truly lurk amidst these strange disappearances…?

How The Moor bares its true bones is akin to a smouldering fire, delivering an impactful thwack of an exposition but then turning down the heat and letting it simmer and bloom until it reaches a scorchingly shocking end. This film is a gem that commands captivation and promises a visceral and uncanny journey into the great unknown.

We’ll be screening Chris Cronin’s incredible feature THE MOOR, which has wowed festival audiences worldwide since its debut at Frightfest in August. This is one of the final opportunities to experience its haunting beauty in cinemas, so don’t miss the chance to see one the best UK horror films of the past few years on the big screen.

Chris will also be attending to have an intimate Q&A with horror fans after the screeningGRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE

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