Wednesday, November 1, 2017

National Parklife

XMOOR (2014)

"The Beast is waiting on the dark side of the moor." 
Melia Kreiling makes for an appealing final girl in XMOOR.

WRITTEN and directed by Luke Hyams, XMOOR was described as "the best British horror in years" by the Sunday Sport. American students Georgia (Melia Kreiling) and boyfriend Matt (Nick Blood) travel to North Devon and West Somerset to capture footage of legendary Panther The Exmoor Beast - and a £25,000 prize. Joined by animal tracker and sub-machine gun owning Fox (Mark Bonnar), it transpires that Fox is actually searching for a serial killer, who has methodically dumped dead prostitutes in a section of the terrain. With surveillance set, the trio are hunted by The Beast (James Lecky), who leaves his daughter (Jemma O'Brien) in his land rover while going about his fiendish business. Although the viewer is spared from handheld footage, the final act is unnecessarily convoluted, cheapening the character arc of Georgia who is the film's only asset. Actually filmed in Northern Ireland, XMOOR is a generic movie with a final reveal that copies THE BIGFOOT TAPES, a film that also leads the audience to human depravity rather than what they tuned in for.

The Beast of Exmoor National Park has been sighted since the 1970's, although it became notorious in 1983 when a South Molton farmer claimed to have lost over 100 sheep in the space of three months. In response to increased reports of livestock death and sightings, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered the Royal Marines to send snipers into the hills; when the Marines were recalled, attacks allegedly increased. The Ministry continued to study the reports into the mid 1990's, before concluding that The Beast was either a hoax or that the reports had been mistaken identifications of creatures native to the Exmoor area. In January 2009 a carcass of an animal that has washed up on a beach in North Devon left many locals speculating that it was the body of the infamous Beast, but was later revealed to be a decomposed grey seal.

Graham J. McEwan's Mystery Animals of Britain and Ireland (1986) is a good starting point for big cats, black dogs and freaks of nature.

Sightings of Alien Big Cats (ABC's) in the British landscape often occur in clusters - affectionately referred to as cat flaps - and are certainly nothing new. The 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act - legislation which possibly lead to the release of privately owned wild cats - is a theory which was developed by the West Country's other favourite ABC, The Beast of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. This is a feline than can be traced to animal trainer Mary Chipperfield allegedly releasing three Pumas into the wild following the closure of her Plymouth Zoo in 1978; and in 1994, an official Government conference was organised by then MP for North Cornwall Paul Tyler, who claims to have seen a Puma within 100 yards of his home at Rilla Mill.