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World of Compulsive Hoarders (2007)

A look at compulsive hoarding, and how this mental condition has affected the lives of four sufferers in particular.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Vicky Blunt ...
William ...
Karen ...
Donna Mattheou ...
Roy ...
Rachel ...
Sari Steel ...
Dorothy Breininger ...
Lloyd ...
Paul Salter ...
John Allan ...
Himself (as Reverend John Allan)
Trevor Hadfield ...
Himself (as Dr Trevor Hadfield)
Maureen ...
Mary Wolf ...


A look at compulsive hoarding, and how this mental condition has affected the lives of four sufferers in particular.

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2 May 2007 (UK)  »

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Gets inside the houses but not the lives of the subjects and is weaker as a result
17 February 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

According to this film, 1 in every 200 people in the UK hoards things, unable or unwilling to throw them away. A form of obsessive compulsive disorder, at its worst it sees homes filled with rubbish and sufferers cut off from society. Not exactly being able to take the moral high ground when it comes to OCD (how many reviews do I have on this site now?), I decided to watch this film out of curiosity but also aware of how I do view those that hoard. Having worked for a short time in the offices of a local government Environmental Health department, I do have quite a negative view of people who hoard – having seen the pain it causes to the families and neighbours.

Clutter is one thing but living with mouldy waste and the risk of vermin is another and it is hard to feel sorry for people who like to have half-eaten pies or loads of newspapers round the house. I came to this film looking for a bit of an understanding and perhaps enough to convince me that this habit is a "illness" and not just a sign of someone with no interest in hygiene. In this regard I don't think the film succeeded because it didn't make me feel that much sympathy or empathy for the hoarders but rather just more sympathy for those caught up with them. So OK something is driving William to collect rubbish (including his own faeces in buckets in the shed) and I can understand a disease stopping him seeing it as wrong, but he just seems totally unaware of his community (who, incidentally pay the tax that allows him his weekly benefit). Likewise Roy doesn't seemed moved at all by the tears of his wife to even try to find room for change and his frustration with his daughter during clearing is hard to watch. Maureen and Lloyd offer a little more hope but even still you get the feeling that as soon as you turn your back they will have rubbish piled high in their front rooms again.

The film doesn't convince in exploring the whys of the situations and I felt the people behind the camera could have pushed the people with question after question to try and force the people to examine themselves. I appreciate that this was a documentary and thus a genre that shouldn't push or guide the subjects but I'm not sure what they achieved here by just pointing the camera at these people. Interesting to see inside the homes of these people but I wanted to see inside their heads and the film never really looked like doing that to any significant degree.

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