dir. Ruben Pla
In many ways The Horror Crowd is the perfect festival film: not because it’s flawless or breaks new ground but because it so accurately captures the camaraderie of the horror community it’s guaranteed to invoke a glow of affection in any genre fan, particularly at a time when many will be seeing it remotely rather than in packed and whooping cinemas.
The feature debut of Ruben Pla – whose face many will recognise from supporting roles in Insidious (2010), Big Ass Spider! (2013) and XX (2017) – zeroes in specifically on a group of film-making friends in Hollywood. Featuring talking heads from the likes of Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II-IV) and Jeffrey Reddick (creator of Final Destination), it takes a free and rambling form, hopping from topic-to-topic in a way reminiscent of old friends catching up at the bar between screenings.
This lack of formal structure can mean discourse is a little unfocused, with subjects that will be familiar to many (such as the importance of Night of the Living Dead (1968) in representing Black characters in cinema). However there are also nuggets of insider info, such as the fond recollections many have for the Jumpcut Cafe in Los Angeles where, prior to its untimely closure, one might have stumbled across royalty such as Wes Craven and Stuart Gordon enjoying a slice of cake.
And through it all is the love of the genre. Pla is irrepressibly enthusiastic, brimming with vitality, and if the doc offers little in the way of revelation then so what: he has somehow bottled the feeling of friendship and that is infinitely more precious, now more than ever.
The Horror Crowd had its World Premiere at FrightFest 2020 Digital Edition. It will be released on 2nd September 2022, and is available for pre-order right now on iTunes/AppleTV