People often determinedly set out to keep their darkest and most treacherous secrets buried deep away from society. But when one of their loved ones desperately sets out to uncover those perilous mysteries, in a well-meaning but ill-conceived attempt to better understand them, the results can turn out to be menacingly deadly. That’s certainly the case with the protagonist in the new horror film, ‘The Hoarder,’ which follows her as she desperately seeks to emotionally reconnect with her fiancé. As she determinedly and innocently tries to discover undisclosed information about him, she ultimately realizes that she must contend with her own enigmas in order to survive.

After co-writing the script for ‘The Hoarder’ with Chris Denne and James Handel, Matt Winn directed the drama. The horror thriller is now available on DVD and Digital Video from RLJ Entertainment. The DVD, which is being sold for an SRP of $27.97, includes the special feature, ‘Making of The Hoarder.’

‘The Hoarder’ follows Ella (Mischa Barton) as she sneaks off one night to snoop through her fiancé’s storage unit on the seedy outskirts of New York City. But deep in the lower levels of the warehouse, Ella and a half dozen other storage unit customers discover there’s more than old furniture and memorabilia being locked away here. A relentless psychopath has started his own collection, and unless Ella and the others can survive the blood-soaked rampage of the Hoarder, and find a way out of the maze-like building, they’ll never see the light of another day.

The British filmmaker generously took the time recently to talk about scribing and helming the independent drama during an exclusive interview by phone. Winn began the conversation by discussing his inspiration in penning the story of Ella sneaking off to snoop through her fiancé’s storage unit, and ultimately discovering that a relentless villain has started his own unique collection. When he decided to sort through his belongings in the unit one night, he thought, “what a creepy place this is. This would be a great place to set a horror film.

“Co-writing a script is always different, depending on who you’re working with,” the filmmaker revealed as he spoke about his collaboration process with Handel and Denne on the screenplay. “I often initiate ideas, so I initially came up with the idea for ‘The Hoarder.’ The idea developed from the fact that I had a lot of stuff in storage.”

After he established the ominous world that Ella would enter in the story, Winn met Denne, and sent the writer a pitch to work on the script for ‘The Hoarder’ with him. Dunne agreed to collaborate with Winn on the horror thriller’s script, because he “thought the idea was interesting. We then sat down and started writing the script together. We sat around a lot in Chris’s house and coffee shops, and talked about our favorite films,” the director revealed.

Winn also mentioned that they tried to figure out how to best chronicle Ella’s journey, as he explained that genre fans can quickly become critical of character and plot development in horror films. “They can say, ‘Oh, that’s a horrible idea-we’ve seen it 1,000 times before.’ So that really fueled our process of creating an original story,” Winn explained.

The filmmaker then discussed how working on the story influenced his helming style. “I’ve never worked on a horror film before, so I was a little nervous about making one,” Winn admitted. “But I did want to direct it myself. So I wrote it in mind that I also wanted to direct it.”

Winn also revealed that “If you’re a director, whenever you’re writing something, you’re always visualizing how you’re going to film it. If you write, dark interior corridor, you have a very specific idea of how that corridor’s going to look. You see it in your head; you’re not just writing the description down. You’re writing what you’re see,” the filmmaker explained. “So I always intended to also direct the movie.”

With ‘The Hoarder’ featuring a diverse cast, including Barton, Robert Knepper, Andrew Buckley, Charlotte Salt, Emily Atack, John Sackville and Valene Kane, Winn then began discussing what the casting process was like on the movie. “Casting a film is always difficult, even when you have money,” the director also revealed. “You have to get people’s availability to line up across the same period. Also, the director could want this person, while the producers want that person, and the writer envisioned another person. So the casting took awhile, before we all found actors we were happy with.” Winn also pointed out that Barton “has done quite a bit of acting in this genre, and has quite a following, so it was great when we go her on board.”

The filmmaker also noted how he worked with prosthetic and special makeup effects designer Paul Hyett, who he described as “a great guy who’s well known in the U.K. He creates a lot of visual effects and prosthetics. He has worked on the make-up for ‘The Descent,’ and also recently directed ‘Howl.’ It was great working with him” on creating how the characters would look in ‘The Hoarder.’ “He can create every possible prosthetic that you can imagine. So it was great to sit down with him and go through the details of how to make nasty things happen to people.”

When ‘The Hoarder’s script was first in development, Winn developed an idea on how he wanted to create the overall look of the characters, particularly the victims who had their lips sewed together. “We looked around and felt that it hadn’t really been done before,” the director revealed. “So we spoke to Paul about it. He has done practically everything, but he said, ‘I haven’t seen that before, but it’s quite disgusting. But I think it’s quite a nice idea!”

But Winn admitted that creating the sewn lips on the actors was a complicated process, because they had to build the prosthetics and put them in everyone’s mouths. That technique “took about three to four hours. The basics of the prosthetics wasn’t that difficult; the more challenging process was making them look subtle…It was also tough for the actors, because they would have to drink through a straw, and couldn’t speak” for the few hours they were getting the prosthetic applied. “But overall, it was an interesting experience.”

Watch the official trailer for ‘The Hoarder’ below.

Interview: Matt Winn Talks The Hoarder (Exclusive)

Written by: Karen Benardello

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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