Netflix Halloween 2015 : “The Beast Of Xmoor”

Posted: October 7, 2015 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Okay, let’s get the confusing stuff out of the way first : writer/director Luke Hyams’ 2014 British indie horror offering The Beast Of Xmoor was originally released under the simpler title X Moor, only to have  the “X” and the “Moor” combined, for reasons unknown, into one word later, perhaps to more (semi-)accurately reflect the name of the North Devon region it takes place in — which is, in fact, called Exmoor with an “E,” and really is rumored to be the favored stomping grounds of a puma-like creature that plenty of people have seen, but no one’s actually been able to photograph.

Think of it as the UK’s answer to Bigfoot, only on four legs, and you’re getting a reasonably clear idea of the “real-life” phenomenon, as well as at least some inkling as to why this particular legend could make for good horror movie material. In fact, looking at the plethora of information and/or disinformation on the fabled animal easily available online, it’s not only  a wonder that I’d never heard about it before but that, at least to my knowledge (which we’ve just established is nowhere near what it probably should be on this subject), no other intrepid would-be celluloid auteur has taken a crack at it previously. So maybe Hyams’ first job with this is simply to make up for lost time?


Before delving too deeply into the proceedings on offer here, I should give the director credit for eschewing the “found footage” trappings that one would assume this flick would make use of — after all, it’s about a boyfriend/girlfriend documentary film-making team that heads off to (E)Xmoor in hopes of collecting a reward for the creature’s capture and getting some honest-to-goodness footage of it at the same time. And yet there are no hackneyed “shaky-cam” antics to be had here as Matt (Nick Blood) and Georgia (Melia Kreiling) go about their risky business — this is just good, old-fashioned movie making.

Fortunately for us all, the emphasis in that last statement should be on the “good,” because whichever title you choose to refer to this by, it’s a pretty damn effective little modestly-budgeted would-be creature feature, made all the moor — whoops, more — gripping once the plot takes a major twist that removes the “creature” from the equation altogether and reveals that, yes, there’s definitely something hunting and killing hapless travelers and/or adventure seekers in the area, but it ain’t no panther.


Which is probably as good a point as any for me to shut the fuck up before I give anything else away. From what I’ve been able to gather, this wrinkle has managed to divide other critics (both of the professional and semi-pro variety — I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide which camp I fall into), but let me just state for the record that I found it not only plausible and well-thought-out, but maybe even downright nifty (does anyone use that word anymore?) on a good day. In other words, it worked for me, and if you keep an open mind, I think it’ll work for you, too.


As will, I’m prepared to wager, more or less the entire movie. Hyams hasn’t crafted an instant classic or anything of the sort here (although he shows all the signs of having one in him at some future point), but his script is well-paced, the direction is taut, the setting creepily atmospheric, the performances very solid indeed, and the tension gets thick enough to cut with a knife on a pleasingly high number of occasions. Ignore the naysayers, give it a go on Netflix, and you’ll probably (or at least possibly) be back to thank me later.

  1. trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

  2. Victor De Leon says:

    Huh. I kept adding this then removing it for some reason, then this morning I get on Netflix and added it back. Go figure. I think I must have been picking up on some vibes from this review, Ryan. Will give this bad boy a go, man. Thanks!

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