When we think of horror as a genre, we think of jump scares, shaky handheld footage and bad acting. We are rarely scared. In fact, we often laugh. What does horrify us then, a generation that seems so desensitized? Often it is reality itself, so what could be more horrifying than a documentary? Collective is a documentary film that will horrify you. It follows a group of journalists who are investigating the Colectiv nightclub fire, which killed 64 people. As they investigate how so many lives could perish, a wider conspiracy reveals itself. The gross negligence, fraud and corruption that contributed to this mass loss of life is uncovered, making you sick to your stomach. In other genres, these reveals would be labelled as dramatic fiction, a product of artistic licence or an excuse for the score to swell. However, the nature of documentary as a truth-telling medium means these reveals are an actuality, which becomes the most horrifying thing imaginable.
These reveals though do not become a matter of spectacle. Instead, they play out with a real sense of sensitivity and sadness which stems from director Alexander Nanau‘s nuanced approach to those affected by the fire. The fire itself and what footage is captured of the event is given the utmost respect and care, so its place in the film is brief, necessary and nauseating. Because of this understanding and respect, Nanau captures moments of great intimacy that shatter your heart, as you are made to witness, in excruciating proximity, people grieve the loss of a loved one.
“Intimate, sensitive and has the ability to horrify. Deserves its recent Oscar Nomination.”