THE HOARD is a comedy/horror mockumentary that chronicles the unravelling of a production team who are attempting to produce the ultimate reality TV show pilot ‘Extremely Haunted Hoarders’.
Directed by Jesse Thomas Cook (Monster Brawl) and Matt Wiele (Ejecta), The Hoard tries to blend comedy and horror together through taking potshots at the predictability and cheapness of reality television.
Extremely Haunted Hoarders – the show within the film – is a Frankenstein’s monster of high concept. Ostensibly, the show is about professional organizer Shelia Smyth (Lisa Solberg) and Dr Lance Ebe (Tony Burgess, author of Pontypool Changes Everything and co-writer of this very film) helping people who are extreme hoarders. Along with contractor Duke Jango (Marcus Ludlow) and renovator The Falcon (Justin Darmanin), they’re going to tidy up the home of Murphy Evans (Barry More) and get his life back on track after years of hiding behind stored up newspapers and furniture. Then there’s the show’s USP where, as Sheila and her team set about tidying up, professional ghost hunters Chloe Black (Elma Begovic, Bite) and Caleb Black (Ry Barrett, The Drownsman) roam Murphy’s property in the hopes of tracking down paranormal activity.
Presented as a pilot that never aired, The Hoard follows the group of reality TV stars as they go about their duties and showing firsthand their own issues. Dr Ebe, for example, uses his time in Murphy’s property to cherry-pick the best pieces of bric a brac that he can sell for a tidy profit at the local pawn shop. The Falcon, meanwhile, sees nothing wrong with taking advantage of the town’s homeless population to earn him to cheap labor for the shoot. Throughout it all Murphy is suitably nonplussed by everything that’s being done for him.
It was mentioned upfront that there were horror elements and, for sure, there are. It turns out that Murphy has a secret in one of his bedrooms that will lead to the deaths of many. The house itself takes hold of Dr Ebe as he develops the same desire to hoard as the man he’s come to help. And there’s also the issue of The Falcon turning into a zombie after eating raw sewage. It all sounds suitably grim. However, you’re going to waiting a long time for any of this to surface. The Hoard wallows in setting up its characters for a large proportion of the running time. When things do start to go bump in the night, it’s so late in the day you’ve almost forgotten the intent of the film in the first place.
You almost want Cook and Wiele to have stepped back before filming to decide what it was they were trying to achieve. Admittedly, a gang of ghost hunters getting more than they bargained for is a staple of found footage horror. However, vacuous hoarding program where the smug presenters have to deal with something more horrific than a room full of cutlery works just as well.
Smashing the two together doesn’t seem to serve a purpose or provide any conflict. It seems like a strange thing to get hung up about, but as a joke in a three-minute sketch it works. Stretched over 90 minutes, you have to wonder what the point is. And look, the performances are great. Each and every person involved is clearly having a ball making this film. It’s just a shame that the audience can’t feel that same euphoria as well.
Overall, it’s a bold effort by the directors, and it does look pretty slick. However, despite its explosive finale, The Hoard ends on a bit of a whimper. No, really. When watching The Hoard, this critic thought they must have missed something in the last 30 seconds to warrant such a none ending. Shame.