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The worst way to start a found footage movie (AKA, Why I turned off "Mr. Jones" after 15 minutes)

Netflix didn't think I was going to enjoy Mr. Jones.  They predicted I'd give it a two-star rating.  So I guess it's kind of my own fault that I tried to watch it and ended up feeling kinda bored.

But look at that poster!  It's so cool!

Doesn't that pique your interest?  It looks like it's either about some terrifying tree-man or a disease that makes people turn into trees.  Either way, that's a fresh concept for a horror movie and I want to see it.

I'm not sure what Mr. Jones actually is about, though, because I got bored and stopped watching after about 15-20 minutes.  I hate to put that out there so bluntly because it makes me sound like a dick, but... well, I guess I'm a dick.  (Apologies to the filmmakers.  I know you worked hard on it.)

The main reason why I got turned off so fast was because of how they chose to start the movie: it opens with a few minutes of the protagonists just kinda screwing around with their camera and not actually doing anything.  Unfortunately, this is how a lot of found footage movies seem to open.  Even worse - a lot of times said screwing around takes place in a car while the characters drive to the house / cabin / camp site / abandoned factory where the movie's going to take place - and of course that's exactly how Mr. Jones approaches it.


Now, look, I get it.  The whole gimmick of the found footage subgenre is that somebody found the protagonist's footage at some point later on, and probably the footage hasn't been edited yet, so the tape has a bunch of random stuff at the beginning.  That was probably really clever and interesting when they first tried it twenty years ago.

But now?  Now it's just tedious.

No other genre of movie would allow this.  In any other film - even a plodding, melodramatic character study about isolation and depression - you're not allowed to open your movie with five minutes of the character just driving around giggling nervously into the camera or making in-jokes with their significant other.

Remember Manos?  Remember Birdemic?  Remember how the "let's drive around doing nothing" shtick was lambasted in those films?  They opened on the lamest, most boring, least visually stimulating activity known to man - driving aimlessly - and kicked their movies off on a note of plodding dullness so strong it cast a dark shadow on the rest of their films.

But those movies were at least smart enough to use that time for the opening credits.  A found footage movie has no opening credits, so when you sub that out with irritable banter, you're actually getting off on a worse foot.

I think this is basically why I just kinda generally sneer at found footage movies.  I don't mean to belittle an entire genre, but if one of the conditions of me watching a whole category of movies is "you should basically just start watching about 10 minutes in because there's nothing actually happening before then," then that's a fatal flaw and intolerable beyond belief.  The only found footage movies I've actually enjoyed all eschew that for the sake of getting straight to the point.

Sigh.  I don't know.  Maybe I should try watching this one again and just start it in the middle.  Does it get better?  Anybody know for a fact?

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