The Hoard


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Hoard
"It captures the in-your-face style of hoarding programmes perfectly but it's 96 minutes long with no advert breaks, and watching it quickly becomes exhausting."

Observing the psychosocial disintegration of populations caught up in the death-throes of late stage capitalism, one has to wonder, who is really the most poorly adjusted: compulsive hoarders or those who compulsively watch television programmes about them?

Perhaps both are, in fact, perfectly adapted for their environment, examples of the kind of madness necessary to survive in this studiously desperate age. The Hoard takes things a step further, reimagining those television programmes with a supernatural twist. In the opening scenes of this film, we are introduced to the team behind Extremely Haunted Hoarders. Their mission: to investigate a series of properties owned by a neglectful landlord who is going to lose them all unless he can get them cleaned up before a strict deadline.

The Hoard is, in many ways, a victim of its own success. It captures the in-your-face style of hoarding programmes perfectly but it's 96 minutes long with no advert breaks, and watching it quickly becomes exhausting. It also takes a long time to introduce the horror elements that many viewers will be waiting for - though when it does, it doesn't shirk on gore. Early on, we get the usual overdramatic TV-style theme music blended with snatches of Wagner’s Siegfried’s Funeral as our first hint that something is amiss. There are many false leads - the landlord has been keeping quite a few secrets - and these are often amusing but get a bit samey after a while. The interpersonal dramas among cast and crew are similarly problematic. You won't be rooting for any of them to stay alive.

Dan Herrick's production design is amazing. Piling up junk deliberately so that it looks organic is trickier than it might sound, and all the more so when actors have to be able to run around and climb over it safely. There are lots of sinister little hints hidden within these complex sets, along with playful; references to other horror films which, to its credit, this film doesn't dwell on. It's a shame that all this careful work is let down by cheapass, Asylum-level CGI in the final scenes. The thing about making a trashy film effectively is that you really can't afford to go about it in a careless way.

Although the character work is necessarily shallow, The Hoard occasionally achieves the same pathos as some of the work it's based on. The landlord doesn't come across as nearly as unhinged or unreasonable as the TV programme tries to paint him, just as an ordinary man who got out of his depth and needs a bit of sympathy and support to set things right. It's the media that is the real monster here. The film may not be subtle in making this point - or, indeed, in doing anything else - but it nevertheless achieves a curious variation on an old horror theme. Humans are no longer the locus of the horror because humans were never really in control to begin with.

Reviewed on: 05 Mar 2019
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The Hoard packshot
A crew of TV personalities, including a professional organiser, a psychologist, two ghost hunters and a team of junk removers, attempts to reform a legendary hoarder who owns four condemned and haunted properties.

Director: Jesse Thomas Cook, Matt Wiele

Writer: Tony Burgess, Jesse Thomas Cook, Matt Wiele

Starring: Lisa Solberg, Tony Burgess, Barry More, Ry Barrett, Elma Begovic

Year: 2019

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Canada


Glasgow 2019

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