The Collection Directed by: Marcus Dunstan Cast: Emma Fitzpatrick, Josh Stewart, Christopher McDonald Running Time: 1 hr 22 mins Rating: R Release Date: November 30, 2012
PLOT: A young woman (Fitzpatrick) is kidnapped by The Collector, a torturous serial killer known for kidnapping one survivor of his murderous sprees. A former captive (Arkin) is enlisted by the girl's father to lead his hired guns to the Collector's main base.
WHO'S IT FOR? This will fill the void of anyone mourning the completion of the Saw franchise, or will slightly amuse those who find horror entertainment in lots o' torture.
EXPECTATIONS: I did not see The Collector, but I think someone once told me it "wasn't that bad, compared to the Saw movies." That's not exactly a good sign, but then again, the Saw franchise is over. Perhaps there would be a nice horror surprise to be found here?
Emma Fitzpatrick as Elena: Fitzpatrick is fine as this movie's scream queen, the innocent participant whose safety is promised fairly early by the movie's interest in toying with everyone else but her (although spiders crawl on her face, gah-ross!) Granted, Fitzpatrick establishes enough sweetness that we want her to be safe - not a scratch or dent on this model. But the script essentially defies its own spoiler alert, separating her from the urgency of the events, reducing from the horror movie the thrill of seeing an unfortunate soul ease their hand into a bear trap. Score: 6
Josh Stewart as Arkin: The inclusion of Stewart's Arkin back into the Collector's world is so forced that it becomes a comical nightmare, but the ugly moments involving this character are enough to make us glad we're not there as well. In a movie built on screams and tanks of blood, Stewart does provide the intensity required, while capping the movie with the type of anger that does seem to be a common trait in these bitter horror killers. Score: 5
TALKING: Elements such as "character development" and especially "dialogue" feel even more like excess baggage, which the movie carries with sassy resignation (a la Paul Rudd's picking up of a fork in Wet Hot American Summer). As laid out by a wordless scene in which Elena interacts through glances with her deceiving boyfriend, The Collection proves to be better off with no dialogue at all. The movie's usage of unfunny cliché expressions further prove this point. Score: 2
SIGHTS: Instead of introducing this movie's Angel of Uber Death with any type mysterious presence by means of lighting (important for providing vagueness to characters whose appearances might already seem obvious), The Collection introduces Collector extremely blandly, with no curiosity or menace implanted. Yup, he's just a man in a black mask standing on the rafters. This resignation to Collector's visual blandness is heavy throughout, with two exceptions being Collector's pose that has him auditioning for Expendables 3 (featuring those two dogs), and his faceless finale. The movie is edited by Kevin Greutert, who is worth mentioning for he adds another familiar face to Collection's Saw soul train, as he directed Saw VI and Saw VII: The Final Chapter (and edited Saw I - V). Whereas Greutert's previous cutting of images in the Saw movies pulled off a few tricks (like when a death scenes was used as a transitional cut in Saw V), the only style of The Collection is clumsy gore, admitting even more so that the movie is primarily constructed to present the unmoving image of someone's skull being turned to mush, etc. Score: 4
SOUNDS: The Collection beats loudly with dance music in the beginning, which lays fertile ground for the film's piercing sound design. When the visual horror of the movie has become tired, the crunches, splats, and stabs of the audio elements are enough to make sequences uncomfortable (and by putting any torture porn on mute just makes it even sillier). Score: 6
BEST SCENE: In a fashion similar to the opening tragedy to Ghost Ship, The Collection hits a bloody funny bone with its club killing, merging the movie's lust for the color red while also showing off absurd engineering for a death machine.
ENDING: In a surprising ending to this movie (as led by an intense sequence in which faceless, smooth cinematography creates strong tension), Arkin has the final word. And of course, the word is, "F**k you!"
QUESTIONS: Will there really be another sequel? Are moviegoers still interested in torture porn like this nowadays? Or have the death mechanisms started to collect visible dust? And what would it take to convince me to return to my place of initial torture? Absolutely nothing at all? Oh, maybe perhaps the Skyfall blooper reel.
REWATCHABILITY: Slim to none. This movie won't be the least bit scary in its second run, instead just playing off like brutal violence.
Though this movie does feature the appearance of two dogs, the title doesn't refer to, as my girlfriend had guessed, a collection of puppies (but this would be a decent sequel to Hotel For Dogs). Instead, The Collection is an agglomeration of grossness; a torture porn-ucopia of gruesome images that seem in competition to out-obscene each other. There are spiky traps, mutilated corpses, human skeletons made into spider skeleton shapes, and then there are some more traps. The Collection is solely engineered by two Saw filmmakers to gross out its audience with booby traps, taking viewers into a horror house where it isn't so much a fear of what's behind Door Number Death, but how loud will the door slam after someone steps into the room, and how gross will the visuals be when a human body is inevitably destroyed.
The Collector himself is like a fan fiction mix of Jason Voorhees as a nimble Jigsaw, but he doesn't inspire the level curiosity for either of those now-classic horror heroes of blood and chaos. It is also uncertain as to whether Dunstan and Melton want him to be super human like Jason, or like Jigsaw, a mortal being with a lot of time on his hands. More so than those two, Collector has his ability to cause fear overshadowed by his traps-manship, whose dedication to hilariously elaborate traps (how does he know they work?) lacks any inspiration. Jason slashed horny teens to avenge his mother, Jigsaw canoodled people in messy Rude Goldbergs with aims of teaching a hands-on lesson, and the passionless, yet relentless Collector ... just maims and/or kills, and then moves on, his only consistency being that he always kidnaps one survivor so he can booby trap them for later, creating a circle of death that spins at the rate he pleases, or something like that. What does Collector Man do on his off days? This guy works really hard for someone who doesn't seem to care what happens before, during, or after his collections have expired.
This indifference certainly seems to be a product of the filmmaking of The Collection, which is as equally uninspired as what Collector does with his murder mementos. The writers seem to share the same motivation as their masked creation for such bloody mayhem: "Because it just looks cool, dude." Thus, cinematography and editing are often bastardized to the significance of a hoarder's stack of moldy pizza boxes, not kept for any personal reason, but because one is too lazy to do anything about them. The film's running time even barely makes it to 80 minutes, toying with the notion that The Collection is indifferent about being a fulfilling feature film at all.
When the movie does channel its simple main motivations, making the material it actually cares about, The Collection can be a small success in its own right. It is a movie purely interested in the horror of blood, whether it is used to express over-the-top carnage (as with its goofy opening massacre), or cause discomfort to the audience because there's an entire ocean of it. It is curious, then, as to why a certain scene involving a sequence broken bone got the biggest reaction from the screening audience. Do broken bones work below the levels of desensitization that blood can so easily achieve, especially when sprayed in the audience's face so rampantly? Were viewers just relieved to see some other method of pain that didn't involve blood splatter, even if it was only for a moment?
To his credit, gore hound Dunstan does succeed in making the slaughterhouse of Collection an audience's anti-fun house, one with a few claustrophobic sequences that keep viewers' mental investment trapped in the moment (such as the effectively paced, bloodless epilogue). The ways of death inflicted on this movie's cattle are surprising enough, within moments that are uneasy enough, that this gore hoarder does succeed in satisfying its simple desire to be really grotesque, with a couple bits of remaining creepiness. A lot of other stuff, however, is just junk.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10