The Movie Waffler First Look Review - THE HORROR CROWD | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - THE HORROR CROWD

the horror crowd review
Horror filmmakers and commentators discuss the genre.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Ruben Pla

Featuring: Ruben Pla, Oren Peli, Russel Mulcahy, Lin Shaye, Adam Robitel, Darren Lynn Bousman, Ernest R. Dickerson, Brea Grant

the horror crowd poster

As an actor, Ruben Pla has racked up credits in movies as disparate in budget and scale as Insidious and Big Ass Spider!, and has become a regular fixture of the American indie genre scene. Using the many professional contacts he has acquired over the last couple of decades, many of which appear to be close friends, Pla has assembled The Horror Crowd, a well-intentioned but poorly realised examination of what draws filmmakers and fans to the horror genre.

the horror crowd review

Between visiting their homes and bringing them to a studio, Pla has gathered a roster of talking heads that will be largely unfamiliar to casual viewers, but which will be household names if you watch a lot of low-budget horror movies in your household. The biggest names are directors Russel Mulcahy (Razorback, Highlander), Ernest Dickerson (one-time cinematographer for John Sayles and Spike Lee turned Demon Knight director), Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) and Darren Lynn Bousman (the Saw franchise), actress Lin Shaye (the Insidious series) and writer Jeffrey Reddick, who will always hold a place in my heart for conceiving the Final Destination series. At the other end of the scale are indie fixtures like Brea Grant (Beyond the Gates), Lombardo Boyar (Big Ass Spider!), Chelsea Stardust (Satanic Panic) and Sarah Nicklin (The Basement).

the horror crowd review

It's admirable that Pla employs such a democratic approach to his subjects, allowing them all equal screen time regardless of how well regarded their contributions to the genre may be. Yet at the same time it feels like a waste to include such well-spoken and intriguing veterans as Mulcahy and Dickerson if you're not going to allow them time to delve into their careers. Pla employs what stuffy old fogeys like myself refer to as an MTV approach, reducing a series of conversations to rapidly edited soundbites. The documentary broaches various subjects - such as how the filmmakers initially fell in love with the genre, how it provides great roles for women etc - but it moves so quickly between each topic that nothing gets covered with any satisfying substance.

the horror crowd review

You know how sometimes you'll watch a movie and think "I wish that had been a TV show instead", or "I wish that had been a book instead"? Well, The Horror Crowd is the first movie I've ever watched that made me wish it were a podcast instead. Pla has obviously recorded a lot of interesting and lengthy conversations in the process of making this doc, but they've all been reduced to a series of brief platitudes. As an interviewer, Pla has the sort of jovial personality that puts his subjects at ease, so he would clearly make for an ideal podcast host. In an age when you can open up iTunes and listen to three hour conversations with horror filmmakers discussing their work and love of the genre in depth, a doc like The Horror Crowd feels redundant.

The Horror Crowd received its world premiere on 29 August at FrightFest Digital Edition 2020. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

2020 movie reviews