Written by Kim Morrison
The horror genre is ripe for the picking when it comes to making documentaries. Whether they focus on a particular film or well-loved series like Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013), a well-known horror actor like To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story (2017), or even deal with important issues and topics like Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019), it’s always interesting to get a glimpse behind the scenes.
Directed and produced by Ruben Pla (Insidious, 2010), The Horror Crowd (2020) is designed to spotlight the Hollywood horror community, many of which Pla counts as his close and personal friends. Rather than focussing solely on the films they have made and the legacy they have created, The Horror Crowd takes a look at what makes someone who chooses to immerse themselves in the world of horror.
Split into a number of sections including how their careers began, the first horror movies they watched, celebrating Halloween, and becoming a mentor, The Horror Crowd allows us to a deeper understanding of all the interviewees and how their love for the genre weaved its way into their careers.
The documentary also touches on more personal matters such as having children, losing a parent, and relationships. However, these sections feel a little hit or miss. While in theory, it would be interesting to get a little more insight into how your personal circumstances can affect your relationship with horror and the films you create, it felt like there as wasn’t as much information and depth as I would have liked. It felt like these types of topics were included to try and add a bit of emotion to the proceedings, but they seemed to miss the mark.
The final type of section in The Horror Crowd sees it tackling vital issues in the world of horror, including race relations and women in horror, but again, these sections don’t feel quite as fleshed out as they should have been. When excellent documentaries like Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror exist, it seems very shallow to have a tiny section dedicated to black horror filmmakers, especially when most of that section features white guys talking about Night of the Living Dead (1968) rather than adding something new to the conversation.
One thing that is a welcome change is the cast of interviewees, as we’re treated to people whose films we know and love but aren’t trotted out to participate in every single horror documentary. Featuring the likes of Adam Robitel (Escape Room, 2019), Russell Mulcahy (Resident Evil: Extinction, 2007), Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity, 2007), and Brea Grant (Halloween II, 2009), it was interesting to get a fresh perspective on the world of horror and find out a little more about the creation of different horror movies rather than just the usual suspects.
Director and producer Ruben Pla decides to play a Louis Theroux-type role throughout the documentary, slotting himself into scenes wherever possible to show off his own horror knowledge and stress how close friends he is with everyone involved. While his segments in-between interviews work well, I would have preferred the focus to move off Pla and be firmly on his guests instead.
Unfortunately, the editing of the talking head segments can be a little confusing at times, meaning the natural flow of conversation is interrupted by trying to tell two stories simultaneously. For example, Oren Peli tells the story of how he started making Paranormal Activity at the same time as Russell Mulcahy gives some insight into how he ended up working on Highlander (1986). Rather than focus on one story and then move on to the next, we get a couple of sentences from each contributor before swapping back and forth. Considering how short each section is, there seems no need to muddle the stories together in such a way.
Overall, The Horror Crowd is an interesting watch if you’re a big horror fan and want to find out a little more about the genre. Still, there’s nothing groundbreaking that sets it apart from all the other fantastic horror documentaries that already exist.
I’d recommend giving it a watch to fill in some gaps that may be missing in your horror knowledge, but I don’t think it would stand up to repeat viewings as it only scratches the surface of the topics it covers.
Rating: 3 out of 5