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Hoard ★★★



Released: 17 May 2024

Director: Luna Carmoon

Starring: Saura Lightfoot-Leon, Joseph Quinn

Grief is universal. It surrounds us and is something we sadly cannot escape from. Everyday we are mourning without realising. Whether it’s the loss of our youth, or grieving our past relationships with former partners and friends. One of our biggest worries can be losing our parents. I know for myself, as an only child. I dread the day I won’t have the comfort of my parents. Mainly because the loss of life can come at any point and the unknown is terrifying. “Mother’s are gods”, director Luna Carmoon recently said at a Q&A following a screening of her film Hoard in Sheffield. And, she is right, of course. For a directorial debut, Hoard is captivating, emotional and at times bat-shit crazy. But most of all it is a journey exploring grief and how our parents have an exceptional yet confusing and emotional impact on our upbringing.

In Hoard’s first act we are introduced to a young Maria (Lily-Beau Leach) who has a lovely and extremely close relationship with her mother Cynthia (Hayley Squires). Their ‘catalogue of love’ is complicated yet beautiful. In the evening’s, together they rummage through local bins with the hope of finding little trinkets that they can place a meaning upon. Their home is a hoarder’s paradise, a secret safe haven that no one would understand but themselves. Bin bags galore, books stacked so high you’d won’t be able to reach them, to even making a tin-foil ball Christmas tree – it’s hard to comprehend such mess, but within that a thoughtful understanding between the pair generates such heartfelt moments.

Following a fateful accident, a now 18-year-old Maria (Saura Lightfoot-Leon) is now living in a clean, dump-free foster home with Michelle, who we quickly notice is referred to as ‘mum’. She is currently enjoying her freedom after finishing sixth-form by lazing around and hanging out with her best friend Laraib. That’s until Michael (Joseph Quinn), a bin man in the area, comes to visit his former foster mum for a couple of weeks. As soon as their eyes locked a blossoming yet troubled romance was about to brew between the pair. This is no typical love forming relationship, but truly a wild and at times gross sexual awakening for Maria. As her romance with Michael blossoms fuelling them both to growl on all fours together and cement their bond through saliva and consuming ashes, we see how toxic this love can be. As the film delves into the relationship, Maria’s actions seem to mirror her mother’s hoarding traits, not to re-do the mess but come to terms with her loss.

The themes of grief and motherhood are embedded so deep within Hoard, and through Lightfood-Leon’s portrayal as Maria, we see how grief can really take over our minds and bodies. Its runtime just past the two hour mark can feel exhausting at points, partly due to many parts needing to be detangled thanks to how strange and utterly disgusting some scenes are. Perhaps focusing on Maria’s complicated grief more and less on being different could have enabled the film to feel more fully-formed.

For a British debut, Hoard is willing to go that extra mile in terms of originality – and there is something to be admired in an era where such a quality is lacking in the industry. Carmoon has not played by anyone’s rulebooks with Hoard, allowing all the rubbish within the film to really shine. This is a film that is not afraid to be both weird and messy – you actually feel like you can smell rubbish throughout and that is impressive in itself.

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