The Hoarder. 2016. Directed by Matt Winn. Screenplay by James Handel; story from Winn & Chris Denne.
Starring Mischa Barton, Robert Knepper, Valene Kane, Emily Atack, Charlotte Salt, Andrew Buckley, Ed Cooper Clarke, Jamie Bacon, John Sackville, Philip Philmar, & Richard Sumitro. Tall Man Films/Atlantic Picture Company/Sunny Day Media.
Not Rated. 84 minutes.
Some horror movies have interesting premises yet do nothing with them. The Hoarder boasts an interesting little plot, which sees a group of characters stuck in a storage facility underground. Bringing together an expanded cast in a horror-thriller can provide options, it can also clog things up and result in just a ton of victim fodder. Now, I’m not trying to make it seem like a basic slasher flick is meant to do anything more than that. On the contrary, slasher horror is often most fun when you can turn your brain off and pay more attention to effects, tension, the scares, rather than worrying about intricate plots with thoughtful, quality writing. And all the same that’s not to say a slasher can’t be well written, either.
However, The Hoarder is one of those movies where you’re left with a desire for more. For all the suspense and tension director Matt Winn drums up, out of the screenplay from James Handel, there’s ultimately no real pay off that’s worth the time spent building towards its finish. The predictability of a slasher picture is nothing new, so many of them come off as annoyingly trite to the point you can nearly see all the plot twists and turns being telegraphed a mile away. There’s very little to enjoy here. Even the enjoyable moments turn sour once the next scene, or the scene after that, ruins any bit of momentum carried through. Only a slight bit of acting from Robert Knepper and a couple bits of blood are truly worth watching.
Robert Knepper is a guy whose talent is credible. For some reason, he often ends up in run of the mill movies. Or if he does find himself in a big picture, it’s something fluffy and not deserving of his abilities. Even on Prison Break, a series I enjoyed big time for the first several season, Knepper is downright fantastic. In this role, he definitely pulls off the character. No doubt. But it’s not a role he deserves, at least not in this film. He has all the makings of a classic character actor, able to play all types from a regular Southern gentleman to a hard nosed cop to a greasy prison paedophile. He does enough to at least make his dialogue and character interesting, whereas some of the others are less than enjoyable.
Then there’s Mischa Barton, the little girl I adored as twelve and fourteen-year-old boy in Lawn Dogs and Pups, that girl I imagined being one of the biggest starts someday. And for a while Barton had the spotlight. Not sure how or where she slipped. Nowadays, her career is relegated to stuff like this horror dreck. Too bad. She doesn’t do much of anything here, though. Certainly not enough to make her character Ella interesting. From the beginning, there is no real connection with her. Even after her friend is killed, by some eerie primeval creeper no less, Ella is downright emotionless. There’s nothing to keep us drawn into her situation, so she becomes another essentially faceless slasher victim like the rest. And in a movie already hurting for likeable parts, this helps nothing.
In the end, even the slasher aspect of The Hoarder falls short. Never a good sign when a film’s main element fails to reach its mark. There are a couple excellent, bloody kills, even an unnerving moment now and then. Nothing to propel this above dismal. Really, there isn’t enough slashing to actually call this a full fledged slasher horror. It definitely is by definition, and as I mentioned there’s blood at times. Though, the main drive of the movie is its thriller quality. We get the tense moments, the suspense, even certain pieces in the film’s score are atmospheric. Yet never is the sum of the parts more than a pile of mashed together nonsense.
Later, we figure out exactly what’s been going on in the storage facility once Ella discovers a terrifying secret container, and the sinister reason for why it’s kept secret. I have to say, part of this is actually intriguing. There’s at least a twist on what I’d expected to be completely ludicrous. This revelation and finale is most certainly bordering on ridiculous. It’s at least a couple steps away; only one or two. Still, the execution of the climactic scenes, the revelation itself, leaves so much to be desired. I will say this: I dig the very end, in that I’d imagined a much more happy, clued up sort of ribbon-like ending. So there’s at least one small shining light in the mostly rotten darkness of this movie.
This is near bottom of the barrel slasher horror. You don’t need explanations for everything in a movie. In a forgettable slasher that certainly will never see a sequel, there’s absolutely no need to create something so expansive in the finale. Sure, it could stand alone, too. But it seems as if the writer was reaching a little too far. Boasting only a decent appearance from Robert Knepper, The Hoarder is mostly a load of typical slasher tropes with little to none of the pay off. Avoid at all costs, unless of course you like to watch generic trash horror. If so: fill your boots! I won’t watch this again, no matter who long I live.