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  Horror Crowd, The Chiller Chinwag
Year: 2020
Director: Ruben Pla
Stars: Lin Shaye, Greg Grunberg, Russell Mulcahy, Ernest R. Dickerson, Clare Kramer, Oren Peli, Adam Robitel, Darren Lynn Bousman, Lombardo Boyar, Sarah Nicklin, Mike Mendez, Jeffrey Reddick, Ryan Turek, Brea Grant, Shaked Berenson, Chelsea Stardust
Genre: Horror, DocumentaryBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Horror movies are practically as old as the medium itself, and the older examples feed into what comes next, especially when those newer creators are so influenced by what has gone before, those classics it becomes a rite of passage to watch as a budding horror fan. But what turns these young fans into makers of movies themselves? Is there any one thing they have in common, part of their psychological makeup or their formative years that construct a mindset that is useful when creating their own fictions? Is it anything more than having seen the right films at the right time, or do you have to have been the "weird kid" who was into the genre that was frowned on by polite society, leaving you misunderstood until you find some others who understand the attraction?

Really, this was actor Ruben Pla's fan film, where he got together a supportive group of horror movie makers - usually directors and writers, but a few producers and actors too - and capitalised on the goodwill they felt for one another by sitting them down and asking them more or less the same set of questions. Either that or he garnered a bunch of like-minded responses he could handily collate into various categories, but that community feeling among horror folks was what appeared to energise him, and there did not seem to be any outrageous freaks among his interviewees, despite varying degrees of hair dye on some of them. Nope, they were a collection of regular guys and girls who happened to make chillers and shockers, happy to be identified with this output.

There was no set of questions asking if they felt as if they were trapped in a horror ghetto and did they really want to direct their own four hour arthouse Bela Tarr tribute, and neither was there an impression any of them were anything but content in the genre. If they were not, you imagine they would not have been interviewed in the relentlessly affable Pla's documentary; maybe he was a little too affable as he did come across as making a conscious effort to demystify a creative process that perhaps not every one of the participants could understand themselves. It could be that Pla should have approached this as a horror host, having a bit of spooky fun with the presentation, for a lot of the time it was so ordinary as to be verging on the mundane in how it represented the talents involved, no matter a few grimmer elements were discussed.

Some of the interviewees mention a childhood of bullying which has brought them to the style of film that focuses on the outsider, while the African Americans asked about racism touch on horror stories that are all too real. Then there's the filmmakers who try to make it in the industry but fail, whom you assume outnumber the people we see here. But in the main, Pla wanted to celebrate how supportive they were, given they all came to horror from similar impulses; when asked if they have a dark side, some do and some don't, but they all seem pleasant enough (even the director of Sharknado). If anything, The Horror Crowd sought to humanise these creators - look, they're just like you and me! - painting a picture of one big, happy family, though it did not much get into how ideas were often raided and revived again and again until they were done to death - and then run over a few more million times. Still, this did put a face to what can far too easily be targets for unthinking internet snark: a lot of people pour their heart and soul into their projects. OK, maybe not the Sharknado guy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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