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The Moor

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
The Moor
Photograph: Bulldog Film Distribution

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

It’s a case of ‘The Moor, the scarier’ in this chilling Yorkshire-set folk-horror

Yorkshire, 1996: 11-year-old Claire convinces her little friend Danny to distract a shopkeeper while she pockets some sweets. When she returns to collect him, however, Danny has been snatched – the victim of a serial child abductor.

Although the man is later arrested, his young victims are never found, presumably buried somewhere on the Yorkshire moors. Twenty-five years later, having served his sentence, the perpetrator is about to be released, prompting Danny’s desperate father, Bill (David Edward-Robinson), to convince Claire (Sophia La Porta) to help him search the moors once again, hoping to find evidence of the crimes, and perhaps – finally – Danny’s body. They both know it’s a fool’s errand; a retired detective (one of the late Bernard Hill’s final roles) illustrates the vastness of the unforgiving, treacherous moorland in an effective scene employing overlapping Ordnance Survey maps.

There’s more to this than meets the eye, however. Claire discovers that Bill is employing divination to try to pinpoint Danny’s location, which sets her sceptic-o-meter bleeping. Yet the further they explore, the more Claire feels the supernatural power of the foggy, boggy marshland, with its impassive standing stones and 5000-year-old rune carvings. Before long, Claire’s scepticism – and the audience’s – are challenged.

You may feel the fog closing in around you in the cinema

Most horror films weigh in at around 90 minutes, but first-timers Paul Thomas (screenwriter) and Chris Cronin (director) are in no hurry, using the additional running time to draw the audience into a tangled web of grief and guilt. Although set in 2021, the film bears the influence of British ghost stories and folk horror favourites like The Stone Tape (1972), Quatermass (1979) and The Woman in Black (1989). 

Cronin also employs some effective Blair Witch-inspired techniques, including documentary-style interviews and POV filming to draw us further into the story. But the score, sound design and pitch-perfect performances – not least from Edward-Robinson, who gave up a tech career aged 50 to take up acting – ensure the film’s considerable spell remains unbroken. 

It’s a bleak, brooding tale, steeped in folk mythology and infused with so much atmosphere you may feel the fog closing in around you in the cinema.

In UK cinemas Jun 14.

David Hughes
Written by
David Hughes

Cast and crew

  • Director:Chris Cronin
  • Screenwriter:Chris Cronin
  • Cast:
    • Sophia La Porta
    • David Edward-Robertson
    • Bernard Hill
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