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The Moor (Film Review)

3 min read
A scene from The Moor

After chilling fans at premiere, The Moor is heading to UK cinemas on June 12 and Digital HD on July 1 ready to terrify a fresh batch of viewers. Directed by Chris Cronin for his feature-length debut, The Moor won the Best Scare award in Total Film's Awards 2023 and was additionally nominated for Best Director and Best Film. And among the expansive lineup, the hype was – and still is – well and truly warranted as Cronin delivers one of the most unsettling, gripping, and blood-curding films of the 2020s so far.

Starring Bernard Hill, Sophia La Porta, David Edward-Robertson, and Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, The Moor tells the story of Claire (La Porta) who is haunted by the abduction and murder of her best friend 25 years after the horrific crime. She has spent her life trying to locate her former friend's body and that of a handful of other missing children, narrowing her search down to one area of ‘the moor'. Her friend's killer has served his time and is due to be released when Claire is approached by Bill (Robertson), the dead boy's father. In a bid to keep the killer behind bars, he leads Claire and psychic Eleanor (Dormer-Phillips) onto the moor which he believes is his son's final resting place. But the group find more than they bargain for as they venture deeper into the moors as something dark and evil haunts the area.

There is little respite from the despair seeped into the very bones of The Moor. From the very first scenes in which we see Claire was indirectly responsible for her friend's abduction, through to the trauma etched into Bill's aged face after he has poured every waking minute into finding his beloved boy, the horror of The Moor runs far deeper than a simple ghost story. The supernatural phenomena is secondary to the raw, stinging pain that comes with the brutal murder of a child and the guilt eating alive all those in the wake of the crime. But that's not to say this folk horror is without its classic tropes. There are plenty of truly spine-tingling, atmospheric scares as we uncover more of the moor that will have audiences frozen still in their seats.

The fog-covered, dew-laden, idyllic landscape of the moors themselves is shot beautifully, highlighting their natural wonder as well as the perilous terrains and inherent dangers that come with them. The location itself becomes a character within the narrative, an antagonist far more dangerous than any human, spirit, or demon. Like The Wicker Man before it, The Moor uses a beautiful, small-town location that glazes over the horrific actions within that feel relatable to UK viewers who have likely travelled to or live in one of these many historical haunts.

The Moor is an emotionally exhausting, terror-inducing look at trauma, grief, and regret that is not uncommon in horror but feels fresh and exciting through the eyes of up-and-coming director Cronin, who is sure to have a long and bright career in the genre following his devastating and horrific feature debut.

The Moor is released in UK Cinemas on June 14 and Digital HD on July 1.