The Hoarder Movie Review
Written by Greg Fisher
Released by RLJ Entertainment
Directed by Matt Winn
Written by Matt Winn, Chris Denne, and James Handel
2015, 84 minutes, Rated R
Released on DVD and VOD on April 5th, 2016
Mischa Barton as Ella
Robert Knepper as Vince
Valene Kane as Willow
Andrew Buckley as Stephen
Charlotte Salt as Sarah
Emily Atack as Molly
Suspicious wife Ella seeks out the secret storage locker of her husband, trying to find dirt on him. She and her friend, trick the guard and pick their way into the underground locker, but unleash something as the do. Now they, along with others trapped in the facility, run for their lives as they try to escape.
If this sounds fairly standard, that is because it is. While it is hard for anyone to make a truly new and original horror story, many directors are able to build a name for themselves with their unique take on the genre. Director Matt Winn straddles the line with The Hoarder. He creates a piece of cinema that is entertaining, but in the end does nothing to truly distinguish itself.
None of this is being said to deride the movie. Simply stated, the film does just enough to not be bad. As a filmmaker, Winn has a very good eye for shot composition, use of light, and getting the best take from his actors. In fact, most of the movie is visually compelling, and has a well-cultivated mood and feel. The actors, for their part, aren't phoning it in either. Despite the genre smatterings on her resume, Mischa Barton will never be known as a scream queen, but she does well enough here to elevate Ella from a catty, scared stereotype into someone the viewer is rooting for. Robert Knepper does what he has done best since Prison Break, and plays a character that no one really wants to trust, but he somehow creates a tenuous truce with the audience. The other characters are little more than stand-ins or fodder for the Big Bad, and are easily forgotten, noone moreso than the hippie dippy Willow.
The plot is where things tend to have gotten gunked up. With three separate writers working on the script, one would think perhaps a truly original idea might have wormed its way into the story. The confining, dreary shots of endless corridors of closed storage lockers is a very effective one, but the viewer has seen this many times before. While the cinematic device where the lights shutting off announces the arrival of the killer helps create a fear of the unseen, movies like Pitch Black do it better. The script gives the characters natural speech, which is a blessing that many current horror movies lack. Conversations flow easily, and no line seems to stick in the actor's mouth, or tumble from them like a drunken acrobat. Perhaps the most notable achievement made is the ending. It is distinctly fresh and interesting, but even this smacks of something that could have been better reinforced or simply made more impactful. The symmetry it gives with an earlier scene is well-crafted, but feels restrained for a final shot.
What the audience wanted was a hair-raising scream, but what we are given is an uneasy shriek and titter. It proves again that substance will always beat style.