The Moor review – formidable Yorkshire-set missing kids folk horror debut

The Moor review – formidable Yorkshire-set missing kids folk horror debut

In the chilling landscape of Yorkshire’s moorlands, “The Moor” emerges as a formidable debut in the folk horror genre. The film, directed by Chris Cronin, delves into the haunting search for a group of long-missing children. Podcaster Claire, portrayed by Sophia La Porta, believes she has pinpointed the search area. However, her confidence is shattered when the police chief, who once led the case, expands her map with five more Ordnance Surveys, ominously stating, “That’s the moor.” This moment echoes the iconic “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Jaws, setting the tone for the eerie journey ahead.

Inspired by the infamous Brady-Hindley murders, “The Moor” can be described as topographical horror. Cronin masterfully uses the moor’s natural elements—swirling mists, ancient stones, and unsettlingly staring rams—to create an atmosphere thick with dread. The fictional Holme moor becomes a character in itself, its oppressive presence felt in every frame.

Claire’s quest is driven by a dark secret. In 1996, she indirectly caused the disappearance of a boy named Danny by using him as a decoy while she stole sweets. Now, she accompanies Danny’s tormented father, Bill, played by David Edward-Robertson, who tirelessly searches the peat bogs for any trace of his son. Their grim mission takes a disturbing turn when they discover a single abandoned shoe in a charred gully. Bill’s obsession grows, but Claire begins to doubt his sanity when she learns he relies on pendulum dowser Alex and his psychic daughter Eleanor for guidance.

The film’s opening is gripping, with a single-take scene capturing the initial abduction on a Leeds street corner. As Claire and Bill venture deeper into the moor’s disorienting terrain, Cronin envelops them in a spiritual fog, maintaining a tantalizing ambiguity about the source of the evil. Is it the incarcerated killer, seen only once in a sinister long shot, or something supernatural lurking in the wilderness?

Unfortunately, the film’s final act falters. Cronin’s attempt to merge the natural and supernatural elements dilutes the story’s impact. Early jumpscares, which effectively hinted at the moor’s latent violence, become predictably manipulative. While most performances are somewhat lackluster, Edward-Robertson stands out, his face a mask of twisted grief. If Cronin had maintained this grounded approach, “The Moor” could have been a standout in British horror. Instead, it remains a promising debut, hinting at a bright future for the director.

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