Thursday, March 31, 2016

In the Rat Maze with The Hoarder: A Film Review

Tagline: "His Collection is Almost Complete."

*there are spoilers here.

Director: Matt Winn.

Writers: James Handel, Matt Winn and Chris Denne.

Cast: Mischa Barton, Robert Knepper, Valene Kane, Charlotte Salt and Emily Atack.

The Hoarder joins a growing collection of horror films set in a storage facility. From Storage (2009) to Self Storage (2013), this setting keeps production costs down and the characters trapped with the confines of a warehouse. This time, the characters are trapped like rats; but, something is trapped inside with them. A caged hamster symbolizes the characters' upcoming predicament. Meanwhile, the characters are so flawed by various vices that they are unable to help themselves or the others to escape. This makes the villain's murderous tasks that much easier. As well, The Hoarder offers a late social message on letting the past go. However, this message is acknowledged much too late by the protagonist; she is too busy covering up her indiscretions. Overall, The Hoarder is a solid horror feature and horror fans will be entertained by the film's darker elements.

Ella (Mischa Barton) is jealous of her fiancé and she suspects infidelity. Her sordid past, which is revealed late in the picture, is being projected onto another. So, Ella recruits Molly (Emily Atack) to investigate his storage unit. Laying way off the beaten track in New York City, this storage facility is unusual, in that its manager does not like to let his customers leave. Ella is trapped with a number of other, very flawed characters. From a heavy drug user to a corrupt cop, Ella must rely on herself if she ever wants to see daylight again.

The film does hint at the upcoming trapped scenario. In an early scene, a hamster is seen in his cage. Later, the characters are ensconced much like this small rodent. Like a rat maze, the storage facility repeats long halls and exits; there is no way out, once the doors are closed. Also, a late scene shows feeding bottles, which resemble the water bottles used by hamsters. The characters are being compared to this poor trapped creature. And, to take this thought a step further, the central villain sees the characters as something less than human.

The trio of writers, James Handel, Matt Winn and Chris Denne, add in a late message of leaving one's past behind. The protagonist, unfortunately, is not astute enough to receive this message, or she simply ignores it. She reaches in through a grate to grab her diary, which houses evidence on her previous promiscuities. Hiding her past is more important to Ella than leaving it behind. Also, Ella's boyfriend, Brad (Ed Cooper Clarke), decides to leave the contents of his storage unit behind. He wants them to be sold, in order to forget his past. One character realizes that history is less important than the present, while another does not.

Finally, almost all of the film's characters succumb to vice. Each character is hiding one vice or multiple vices. The corrupt cop, Vince (Robert Knepper), is trying to hide his money grubbing reason for being at the storage facility, for much of the film. He is no hero to root for. The minor character Willow (Valene Kane) is also at the EEZZEE storage warehouse for nefarious reasons. Willow is not a diabetic. Instead, she is a hard drug user and likely a seller, as well. Many of the characters succumb to greedy motivations, with Ella hiding her own vices. Only the fairly flat character Ian (John Sackville) has nothing to hide, or nothing to be ashamed of. Though, his work in advertising might be considered a flaw, in itself. Without a virtuous character in the mix, it is a question of hoping that the least amoral character is saved from the staple gun.

The Hoarder will be released by RLJ Entertainment on home entertainment formats, shortly and horror fans will find an entertaining film here. Slightly claustrophobic due to the many interior sets, The Hoarder keeps the characters trapped in the rat maze as the blackhat goes about his bizarre experiments. Also, there are some quality film elements within as the writers tease out some symbolism onscreen and a partially set-up social message. The characters are overly flawed, which unfolds the film's believability, somewhat. Still, there are a number of tense scenes within The Hoarder and this stalk-and-slash feature will keep you trapped in your seats, with a malicious killer.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10.

A preview of the film, with a trailer, is hosted here: The Hoarder Trailer on 28DLA

More details at All Horror: The Hoarder at All Horror

Recommended release: Self Storage at Amazon

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