To say I carried no reservations going into this film would be lying. The Collector was written and directed by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton who penned the last few Saw films. The Saw series only got worse as it progressed with it’s paper-thin veil of acting and story being used to deliver cringe-inducing death sequences. So with much trepidation I secured a copy of The Collector, hoping to see more than clever contraptions and a mountain of plot holes.
The movie begins with an ex-con turned handy man by the name of Arkin (Josh Stewart) who has a pasttime of “casing” the houses he’s currently repairing. “Once a criminal, always a criminal” seems to fit our main man perfectly. This house happens to belong to the wealthy Chase family that will soon be embarking on a family vacation.
Arkin arrives late one night to check for valuables and attempt to crack a safe holding some very expensive jewels that could really help his current situation. It seems Arkin’s ex-wife owes some money to loan sharks and pressure has been applied to the ex-wife and daughter. While trying to open the safe Arkin hears something and realizes he is not alone. Another intruder has turned the Chase’s home into a world of traps with no possible escape. While Arkin is here for gems, The Collector has come for a little fun and maybe his next trophy.
You can really tell these guys did a great job with a smaller budget. Yes, this feature has some of Saw’s creative talent, but be assured the budget is definitely not the same caliber. Dunstan and the crew went far enough from the Saw series to give this movie a somewhat unique look and feel. A lot of similarities will be found between Saw and The Collector, but the movie is distracting enough to keep your mind from calling out each moment that could be ripped from the related series.
I have to commend the work done in the effects department. This movie will not let any gore hounds down. There is little to no CGI used and most effects will elicit at least a moan or cringe. Some of the traps use practical household items or mimic them. Ever wonder how human fly paper would work… The little killer in me now has one less thing to think about.
The movie was advertised with the word Saw about 600 million times. Anytime someone mentioned this movie prior to its release a Saw mention was coming right up. In the end I believe the movie was hurt by it’s own hype as the Saw movies (at least the last few) were given dismal reviews by many. If the commercials were not enough, the fact that the box art itself wore mention of Saw sealed the deal for many searching out a decent horror movie.
The beginning starts out with a weird almost music video like intro. I am not sure how intentional this was, but it did seem awkward. Personally it reminded me of the band Tool so I was not too put off. The movie employs a lot of the same moves as the aforementioned series. If you have an issue with grainy high contrast shots popped in with a lot of quick edits this may not be your cup of tea.
The acting is on par with your average horror flick of the last decade. Josh Stewart does a decent job as Arkin and will make you feel for him as he has to make choices most of us would rather not. Outside of Mr. Stewart the only other note worthy character would be the The Collector himself. There really is no dialog by him or an explanation of why he does what he does. I guess we just leave that open for the sequels.
How the hell do you expect to separate yourself from a specific horror movie franchise when the name is mentioned right alongside your title? I know, how about we take the trap element from the series and make the killer mobile? There is no way we can be mistaken for that money tree of a series which popped up annually and dominated the box office for almost a decade.
For either of these guys to be pissed over the obvious comparison to a series they helped write and mold, would be shocking. Where The Collector trumps it would have to be the tense game of Cat and Mouse between Arkin and The Collector. Arkin has to avoid the many traps while trying to find a way to escape before he too becomes the victim or his next trophy.
This 12 oz. can of ice cold suds goes directly to the suspension of disbelief. I was left with so many question and moments of, “Come on, that would not happen,” that I believe it deserves mention. I was wondering so many things like, “How did The Collector get these detailed traps up with so quickly?” “How did Arkin or no one else hear the days of construction it would take to create all of these traps?” “Why does the killer need a living human and what makes his choice of said person any better than then the next?” “What is the mask made of and why does The Collector wear it?” So many questions with so few answers during my 90 minute stay. Some will say I am being too critical of something that is intentionally unrealistic and I’ll say sure, but give me some GOD DAMN answers before I call the police… just kidding.
With the opening of The Collection looming there is no doubt people will be seeking this title out before hitting the theater. This movie has a decent feel to it and I really hope we get more of a back story and answers in the sequel. If you need a decent Saw meets cat and mouse thriller give The Collector a look.
Take a Drink: anytime you curse at the darkness of a particular scene.
Enjoy a Sip of Wine: if something on-screen cues your mind directly to anything in the Saw series.
Slam a Beer: each time you are wondering “huh?” or “why?”