Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Collection

What is it with the recent sequels to horror movies I like totally sucking ass?!*

The Collector was one of those rare horror movies that completely caught me off guard. Rented on a whim via Netflix I found this low budget flick competently made and surprisingly effective. Written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (who wrote Saw IV-VII, the Feast films and Piranha 3DD), and was the feature directing debut of Dunstan, it showed a great amount of talent from them both. To actually pull off something scary in film nowadays is a minor miracle and this film excelled at it. The cliffhanger ending left me wanting more and now 3 years later the sequel has finally arrived…

I’m guessing that The Collector was a fluke because The Collection is exactly what I thought the original film would end up being-- a generic Saw rip-off.
Picking up not long after the finale of The Collector, we find that Arkin (Josh Stewart) has been left behind in a red trunk at a rave after the title character massacres everyone there, but not before kidnapping a rich tycoon’s daughter, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick), for his own sick needs. A group of mercenaries ask Arkin to help them find Elena since he is the only person to ever escape his clutches. He leads them to The Collector’s hideout, an abandoned hotel which has been booby-trapped to the extreme. Within they discover just what The Collector has in store for Elena.

In the original film we don’t really get any background info on The Collector at all. He’s sort of like Michael Myers in that he’s a blank slate and I believe that’s why I felt the film was so successful. However, I was totally game for some insight into this character to see what makes him tick and why he is collecting all these people. What we get is pretty lame; some people he collects so he can allow them to freely roam his lair as companions, some he lobotomizes/mutilates and has them guard the lower levels to stop intruders, some he chops into pieces to create human art that looks vaguely insectoid. Why? We are never really told except for an assumption made by a character at the close of the film. His motivations are never explained and he's not as interesting as I had hoped. It’s almost like the writers were trying way too hard to make him a new horror icon by giving him all these different methods of torture, but none of it comes together to make any sort of cohesive sense.
The movie zooms by at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to keep up at times, and the movie is over before you know it (it clocks in at barely 80 minutes). Ideas are introduced and dropped just as quickly, characters that are supposed to be professional military types do ridiculously stupid shit, and it ends on a wholly unsatisfying note. I don’t know if there was a lot edited out of the film (some of the gore scenes felt truncated in the extreme), but there was barely enough going on here to justify a whole movie. The creepy and intense style that Dunstan showed in The Collector is absent here as well. Everything is too well lit to look scary (like in Saw II) and there is no panache. It looks like a standard direct-to-video slasher film.

The acting is pretty bad as well. Josh Stewart was pretty good in the original, making for a sympathetic and flawed hero. Here he looks, literally, like he’s been taking sleeping pills for the entire film. His eyes are always half closed and he mumbles a lot of his lines. I did like Emma Fitzpatrick’s turn as Elena. I hope she becomes a new scream queen alongside Jaime King and Danielle Panabaker. Lee Tergesen (Oz, Wayne’s World) isn’t trying too hard to be convincing as a bodyguard, and the underused Christopher McDonald pops up for an unneeded cameo as Elena’s father. But the worst sin in this department is The Collector himself. In the first film he was portrayed by Juan Fernandez, a Colombian actor. His face was even shown at one point before all the booby-trapping shenanigans went down. Here the part has been recast with stuntman Randall Archer instead, and it’s plainly obvious that it’s not the same guy from the original since he’s white as a sheet. Fernandez was bald, this guy has a full head of hair. Fernandez had a particular body language that made the character creepy, this guy lumbers around like Jason Voorhees. The character is not scary or threatening anymore, and for a movie of this type that’s a major issue.
I will give this film props in the gore department. We see a club full of people get shredded, crushed and sliced into pieces. There are stabbings, shootings, iron maidens, impalements, incinerations, autopsies, disturbing body art sculptures and more. I could have done without all the bones being broken since that’s the one thing I can’t bear to watch, but for the most part this film provides the bloody goods. But that’s it.

A hobo shooting aside, I did not find much to like about The Collection. The script felt unfinished, the directing is uneven, the production looks cheap and hokey and it’s not scary or tense at all. I'm going to have to say that this flick was a complete bust. I hope they don’t further add insult to injury by making a third film. The filmmakers effectively killed this franchise with this misfire.

1 out of 5

*Silent Hill: Revelation

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