A cross between Ghost Hunters, Extreme Home Makeover and Hoarders with a touch of Dr. Phil and a dab of Storage Wars mixed in The Hoard covers all of the reality show bases. Rockford Ohio or to be more specific Rockford Ohio, March 19, 2017 is the setting for the piece. The plan was to create the ultimate reality show titled Extreme Haunted Hoarders; however the truth of the story was too extreme leading to several breakdowns amongst the team with the production teetering on the edge of a full stop. Professional Organizer Sheila Smyth (Lisa Stolberg) assembled the team together. The members include Dr. Lance Ebe (Tony Burgess) and his every present gold Smokey and the Bandit-era Trans AM, Ghosties clairvoyant Chloe Black (Elma Bergovic) and her ex paranormal gadget guy Caleb (Ry Barrett) who is at his chameleon-like comedic best in this feature. The home makeover content comes from Duke Jango (Marcus Ludlow) who is full of ingenious swear word combinations for both his renovating partner The Falcon ( Justin Darmanin) day worker Charles Ivey and any observations he may have on the job. The crew descends on Horder Murph Evans three homes with 48 hours to clean them up before the city moves in to condemn.
Directors Jesse Thomas Cook and Matt Wiele hit all of the reality show tropes with this mocumentary production. You have the confessionals, the camera following the crew even when they are not aware, the extremely dramatic narrator and quick editing all staples of the genre. The narrative unfolds smoothy in the opening stanza. Things begin to go sideways when Dr. Ebe and Lisa follow Murph as he claims to be headed to another property. Instead, he detours ending up at a previously undisclosed residence which becomes the focus of the remainder of the feature.
Lisa Solberg is the glue linking the teams as Sheila Smyth. She is cheery and positive almost to a fault but has her own weak moments due to the weight of the situation and the monumental size of the task the group has undertaken. Marcus Ludlow stands out as Duke Jango. He is a sledgehammer on a search and destroy mission. From the moment he rolls up on a set of local layabouts looking for a day worker. He is at the centre of the action anytime he is on screen. Ry Barrett continues to flourish in the Canadian indie film scene. His ghost hunting techie Caleb Black spews out the names of the devices he monitors but perhaps his most impactful discover comes via good old fashioned black light. Tony Burgess who also has a co-writer credit goes through perhaps the biggest transition as Dr. Ebe. He is the respected professional at the outset, displays sticky fingers around Murph's antiques, then descends into the behaviour patters he is accusing Murph of possessing during his first assessment of his subject.
The Hoard is a laugh filled ride that hyper exaggerates all of the worst qualities of reality television. The writers have tucked in a fitting comment on the whole genre when Sheila tells Murph that he is the only normal one amongst the whole group. Each cast member takes their license to free roll and runs with it. It's a fun time at the movies that is not overtaxing and will have the audience leaving with a smile on their face which is much needed at this time where negativity dominates the landscape in just about any direction your turn.
*** 1/2 Out of 4
The Hoard | Jesse Thomas Cook / Matt Wiele | Canada | 2018 | 139 Minutes.
Tags: Hoarding, Rockford Ohio, Eviction Notice, Ghost Hunters, Show Runner, Auction, Antiques, Chairs, Picture Frames, Shotgun, Settee.