Opening night of Screamfest 2012, I was able to see the new horror film, The Collection. Horror fans may not have too much trouble remembering The Collector, which came out back in 2009, but others may struggle when realizing that The Collection is actually a sequel to that film. Now The Collection is not really a film that solely depends on knowledge from the previous entry and similarly it is a different sort of beast from the first film. The Collector was very much a cat and mouse thriller, set inside a house, which happened to incorporate a lot of deadly traps, labeling the film as a part of the ‘torture porn’ horror sub-genre. The Collection may have a similar setup, but this time the majority of the action is placed inside the hideout of the collector, which turns the film into more of a funhouse of horror traps and grizzly images, flipping the series on its head. It may or may not be worth your time, but it’s a mean, lean, horror flick that is a fun enough ride.
Arkin: Better be prepared. Bring everything you got, because if he catches you, he’s gonna make you wish you were dead.
To provide some setup for those unfamiliar, The Collector was about a killer who basically rigs houses with numerous deadly traps and lets those living inside try to work their way out alive. They are always unsuccessful; however, the Collector always takes one victim away in his trunk. The end of that film led to its anti-hero, Arkin (Josh Stewart), being taken by the Collector, after having successfully saved another life the Collector was after. The Collection picks up some time later, as we follow the actions of Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick). The extended setup allows us to see the Collector having expanded his twisted game to a night club, leading to a ridiculous amount of deaths. Elena manages to escape death and finds Arkin in a trunk the Collector brought with him. Arkin manages to escape, but unfortunately Elena is taken by the Collector.
Awakening in a hospital, Arkin is blackmailed by a team of mercenaries, hired by Elena’s father (Christopher McDonald), to get her back. As Arkin is the only person to have ever escaped from the clutches of the Collector, he will be the key in being able to find where Elena has been imprisoned. This leads to Arkin directing the team to the Collector’s lair, which is a multistory, trap infested dungeon, with an assortment of creepy objects, body parts, and still living victims that have since become a part of the collection. As the Collector is not one to be barged in on, he is ready for the team and it will become a struggle for everyone to try and get out alive.
I was a fan of The Collector. It came out during the time when we had Saw sequels coming out year after year and while The Collector was certainly not shy about its hard R-rating, I was pleased with its simple plot structure and the effectiveness of having it essentially boil down to a cat and mouse chase between two specifically skilled opponents. The Collection sort of betrays its roots, as it downplays this aspect in favor of a bigger, louder approach that many sequels suffer from. However, the film did still manage to work for me, because it maintained a level of simple plotting, mixed with a fast-paced structure that kept the tension high, as I enjoyed the creativity seen in the house in which the Collector lives.
There is a lot to accept when it comes to believing in Arkin being a person that would actually go back into the torture palace that he only barely escaped from. This is something that I am sure would have been more drawn out if the film was not edited down to a lean 90 minutes, but as it stands, that is basically the major bump I had to get past, and once I did, I was happy to be back with this enduring character, who makes for a strong protagonist in this sort of film. I would say the same about Fitzpatrick, who becomes much more than just the woman in trouble, as she equally gets the time to try and find her own escape and deal with some pretty horrific situations.
Co-writer/director Marcus Dunstan, who is responsible for several Saw sequels as well as the awful Piranha 3DD, manages to return to what almost seems like his Collector side project and inject a lot of high energy in what goes on. Sure, there is a lot of disgusting stuff in this movie when dealing with what kinds of trophies the Collector collects, but the film does not focus too heavily on being out and out brutal. Really, the handle on violence is darkly humorous in a lot of situations, depending on one’s tolerance for this sort of horror film, which makes for an entertaining film in some ways. There is a solid level of tension held throughout and I have already mentioned the pace of this film, which is incredibly quick.
It would be incredibly easy for me to pick apart the film for its weak characters and ridiculous, trap-based settings and that is certainly something I have done for other films I have seen. There are, however, similar films that I have not ripped into, despite those issues, and it is for a very particular reason: I had fun watching it. I can dig into the Saw films or the Resident Evil films because it honestly feels like they try too hard and don’t have me really enjoy what I am seeing (Saw is just dim and dour, while Resident Evil just bores me). I feel less inclined to do so for films like The Collector, because, for whatever reason, I was able to have an enjoyable time watching it.
The Collection takes a different sort of approach than its predecessor, but it still makes for a fun horror ride. There is a lot of creativity that went into building the horrible hideout of the Collector and the film moves along quick enough to keep the viewer into what the main focus is. The plotting is structured pretty straightforward and the film has some decent work from its leads. It may not win over those who already do not enjoy or tire of films like this, which are much bloodier than other horror features, but I got enough enjoyment from what The Collection was bringing to the table.
Arkin: He’s picking us off.
The Collection hits theaters on November 30th. Here are some pics from its screening at Screamfest 2012:
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