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The Collector – Review

The Collector – Review

Jan 28, 2011

reviewed by Danny
directed by Marcus Dunstan, 2009
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With a box that boasts that it is from the writers of Saw IV, V, and VI, The Collector pretty well announces who its target audience is.  I knew going in that I wasn’t likely part of that target group, but, even though “torture porn” isn’t my favorite sub-genre, I can usually get enough thrills from a well-made example to make it worth a rental (or, in this case, a used DVD purchase).  For about forty-five minutes, The Collector delivered enough of those thrills to keep me interested.  Unfortunately, things go pretty far downhill in the last half of the movie.

The Collector is primarily the story of Arkin, a locksmith, safe-cracker, and ex-con who, in a desperate attempt to help his ex-wife pay off a loan shark, accelerates a scheduled burglary.  In the first of what will become many coincidences, that night also happens to be the night that “The Collector,” a vicious killer and Rube Goldberg enthusiast, has picked to capture and torture the family that lives there.

When Arkin arrives, he finds himself trapped in a house that has been booby-trapped with the most elaborate, physics-defying, and deadly traps ever seen outside a Dungeons and Dragons adventure.  Many of the traps truly are ridiculous and require incredibly specific things to happen before they would actually work.  Still, they all work just fine, except for the one that the plot needs not to work.  That one, which at one point activates on the villain, is a simple pulley and needs only gravity and the collective pokiness of a chandelier made out of blades in order to work.  It, of course, does no damage to the bad guy.

From the first moments in the home, The Collector establishes a pretty depressing structure.  Arkin discovers a family member, tries to rescue them, and, often through no fault of his own, gets them killed in the process (via the elaborate traps).  When he heads back in to the home near the end of the movie to rescue the young girl he had bonded with over a tea party during one of the film’s two unnecessary prologues, I couldn’t help but think that she might be better off on her own.

As silly as the film is, it has its moments.  The creepy opening features a “what’s in the steamer trunk?” moment that reminded me of one of the best moments in Audition.  Arkin is played well by Josh Stewart, who shows no sign that he knows how ridiculous the film’s plot is.  The gore is vast and well-done.  I’m sure special effects guys love working on films like this.  Where else can you show off your ability to make it look like a man is chained to the wall using fish hooks?  The editing and cinematography are likewise excellent.  Still, none of these high points make up for the giant pile of absurdity that is the plot.

As silly as things eventually got in The Collector, it became impossible for me to continue to invest any real emotion in the film.  When the “surprise” ending finally came around, I could not have been less surprised or more disinterested.

So, is The Collector beneath any recommendation?  Maybe the answer is, yes.  But, I suppose the kills themselves are enough to interest those that mainly watch horror for the gore.  Also, anyone who has the ability to suspend his or her disbelief no matter how ridiculous a movie is could maybe find some interest in Arkin’s plight.  As for me, I don’t regret watching the film, but I won’t be lining up to rent the inevitable, The Collector II.

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