Written and Directed by Luke Hyams
Filmmaking couple Matt and Georgia have dedicated their careers to searching for the unfindable: Nessie, Bigfoot, etc. When a newspaper offers a £25,000 reward for anyone who can solve the mystery of the Black Beast of Exmoor, Georgia jumps at the chance. Reportedly believed to be a panther or another big cat, Georgia employs the help of seasoned hunter Fox to help them track down the mythical beast but what they find upon the moors is not at all what they expected…
Horror film XMOOR starts as we expect any movie detailing a documentary would: interviewing those who’ve so-called seen the subject followed by a visit to its stomping ground. Unlike The Blair Witch Project and its countless imitations though, XMOOR isn’t hand held, a la found footage, but instead utilises the standard camera style we know and love from other genres – a blessing for those who suffer from motion sickness. What begins as an investigation into the Beast of Exmoor soon turns into something much more real and threatening than a mythical beast killing sheep and our intrepid hunter and documentary makers become the prey of this new predator on the prowl.
In many ways, XMOOR displays many slasher qualities but is missing the most vital one. In short, there’s simply not enough of the threat on screen to warrant the fear although the establishing shot of this new plot thread has enough to make the viewer feel uneasy and a little bit queasy. The cat and mouse chase that follows though feels quite quick and abrupt in the sense that although the scenes are stretched out, very little happens to make us believe that the main character is in imminent danger.
Melia Kreiling as Georgia is probably the film’s strongest asset with the character leading the way in the film. It’s easy to connect with her character, a woman who finds herself out of her depth and fighting for survival, which is a blessing as she’s in most of the film’s scenes. Her emotional and psychological transformation is interesting to say the least as she starts off happy living a normal life to be suddenly broken down and working purely on her sole survival instincts to then become a fighter, someone who wants finish all the madness her and her team have endured.
Overall, XMOOR feels like a story of two halves but never actually has one decent full one. It’s disappointing because there’s potential here with some great ideas and shots but the two threads combined together just don’t work that well. The minor characters written into the film also feel a little conflicting at times with their actions going against what you’d expect them to do in the position they’re in. This causes the viewer to lose trust in the movie as it takes them away from the film experience.
XMOOR has a promising idea but unfortunately fails to deliver a solid story to invest in.