The Collector

tn_collectorTHE COLLECTOR is a new horror picture and although the title does refer to the villain (who collects people – sorry, I was hoping it was gonna be Beanie Babies too, but it’s people) it focuses much more on the other guy. Not that he’s a saint either. He’s there to rob the place.

The opening establishes that this guy is doing repairs on a rich family’s home and his interactions with each family member. But it also shows why he’s so desperate for money that he’d pull an asshole move like robbing their safe. He tells a crime boss (Robert Wisdom) that he’s the only guy that can get into that safe, but I think it’s a lie. He just has a little box he can use to listen to the clicks as he spins the dial – I feel confident that I could figure out how to use that thing if you gave me a couple minutes. But maybe he’s the only guy with one of those boxes, that’s why he said it. And because he knows the code to turn off the alarm.

mp_collectorThe family’s supposed to be on vacation but he hears something while he’s in there, and it turns out to be The Collector, a guy in kind of a hybrid lucha libre/S&M mask who is currently torturing the family members. Not only that but he set up a bunch of booby traps. Some of them are little things like a needle that pokes our guy in the ear when he tries to use the phone, or razor blades that slice his fingers when he reaches for the window. But also there are tripwires all over the place that set off ridiculously elaborate traps. You know how the FRIDAY THE 13TH sequels established the rule that killers can catch up to their victims without running? I guess SAW set the precedent that killers are engineering geniuses with the ability to foresee and set up for any outcome.

The traps are increasingly ridiculous. By the time I noticed a bunch of bear traps on the floor in the background of a shot I was laughing, well before a guy fell onto about 8 or 9 of them. The silliest one somehow uses a cable to swing a girl across the room and stick her on a bunch of wall spikes like she’s one of those velcro balls you throw against a target.

Meanwhile The Collector has people tied up so he can pull out tongues and teeth and what not. As you know I don’t really like the torture movies, not for moral reasons but because I think it’s uncinematic. The thrill of the slasher movie is in the chase, in just barely getting away. The “kills” are enjoyable exclamation points on the end of some of the sentences. A torture scene is a long, dragged out exclamation point. An elipses. It can serve its purpose but in this case it doesn’t, it’s not really a scene you dread getting to. You just don’t enjoy getting through it.

The predicament that the safecracker is in is interesting – the family members see him there and he says “It’s okay, it’s just me!”, but of course they gotta be wondering what the hell he’s doing in their house. He’s gonna get himself in trouble, but he’s a good enough person that he stays and tries to help them. And when the dad tells him the combination to the safe so he can get the handgun he says, “Okay” and not”I don’t need the combo, I have a special box for listening to the clicks,” so you know he’s a sophisticated criminal.

I like the setup , the character is developed enough to root for and we can all related to a safecracker in trouble. An everyman. But this Collector guy is a different story. That guy’s just lame.

SPOILERS? I’m not sure if this even counts as a spoiler, because it doesn’t really matter who the killer turns out to be, it has no consequences. But as you suspect early on he’s a pest control guy working on the property. It’s kind of cool that the killer knew the alarm code for the same reason our protagonist did – he works there. But the director uses his profession as an excuse to linger on CGI spiders and wasps on the outskirts of events, which is laughable whenever it happens. At one point it shows a spider watching, and moving his mandibles. Somebody oughta dub in a “CHAOS REIGNS!”

I liked in BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT how the title came up at the very end. It’s kind of cocky to do it that way, like fuck you, I put the title on the end, I don’t care what anybody else does, but it’s an earned cockiness. Also, in both cases you realize the meaning of the title when it appears. Ah ha, so we’ve been through all this, now BATMAN BEGINS. Or okay, “Gotham’s White Knight” has slipped up, Batman’s gonna take the fall, only now is he THE DARK KNIGHT. With THE COLLECTOR what you realize as the title comes up is “Oh, they’re trying to do a series of these, like SAW.” They’ve shown us a killer and an M.O., they’ve even left the protagonist alive. I still think it’s novel that the SAW movies keep different characters alive and expect you to remember what’s going on from sequel to sequel, but I don’t want to see another series like that. Come on. It seems a little presumptuous to end that way.

Well, it turns out this was originally written as a SAW prequel, but then even the people who make the SAW movies didn’t want to see a fucking SAW prequel, so they rejiggered it into this. Man, I hope there aren’t a dozen rejected SAW sequel scripts that are gonna be turned into separate movies the way so many rejected DIE HARDs and LETHAL WEAPONs and stuff did. The people responsible for this one apparently did the FEAST movies and some of the SAW sequels, if that tells you anything.

Anyway, a semi-valiant attempt I guess. At least it had a good setup and a couple laughs. But I don’t recommend it. If you must, I guess it’s available exclusively at Blockbuster now (man, what a coup) and everywhere else April 6th.

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 11th, 2010 at 2:46 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

102 Responses to “The Collector”

  1. You nailed it, Vern. I guess it’s good for a few laughs if you have nothing better to do, but it’s eminently skippable. I actually caught this one in theaters because I like to support R-rated horror movies. I won’t say I felt like I wasted my time, but I definitely could have saved the $8. Oh well.

  2. It is to bad the collector does not collect Beanie Babies. I agree that would be much more interesting. In the end the big plot twist would be the reveal that the collector is Don West.


  3. caruso_stalker217

    March 11th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I have no plans to watch this, but I see that the protagonist is Josh Stewart who showed up in the last season of “Third Watch” which had gotten pretty crazy/bad at that point. Roy Scheider as a Russian gangster, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous. And Wyclef Jean. But Stewart was pretty good and somehow became the best character on the show. So I guess I was kinda bummed that the show got shit-canned.

    Uh, anyway, no interest.

  4. I saw this movie at a preview screening with the co-writers/ director in attendance and I have to say I enjoyed it pretty well. Better than Feast II and Saws V and VI. I liked Josh Stewart, but I think for a change the story should’ve just ended, I’d have been happy with somebody walking off into the sunset/night having survived something awful and knowing they could move on with their life to the degree that they could. I don’t always want (or usually advocate) set-ups for a sequel even though I’m not opposed to them in general. Besides, Monsieurs (sorry, had to do it) Dunstan and Melton have one too damn many franchises on their plate(s) as it is.

    Caruso_stalker217- Before A&E moved it to the wee small hours of the morning I was a devout watcher of “Third Watch” reruns, sadly, I don’t remember any with Stewart but it sounds like he became the replacement for Jason Wiles’ character who got shot up in a pretty brutal network television shit storm of a hospital battle royale that opened the final season.

  5. caruso_stalker217

    March 11th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Stewart played this rookie named Finney who was the son of this corrupt cop so everybody hated him. He was Davis’ partner in the last season and went on to earn everyone’s trust, etc.

  6. Now I remember him. He was cool. I think there was an episode where he comforted a woman who had been impaled in the wreckage of her car. Even if that wasn’t him it was some pretty touching shit.

  7. Always hated the “title at the end” thing. I know it seems like a weird nitpick, but let’s look at James Cameron – T2 and Aliens had really great, memorable fade-to-credits endings. Could you imagine how jarring it would be if the highway at the end of T2 just stopped and we got a big ole “TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY” in your face, Avatar-style? Or if the lovely image of Ripley and Newt sleeping ended with a big “ALIENS” popup? It just seems kinda tacky and self-congratulatory. It’s like, dude, I know which movie I just paid to see, thanks for reminding me though.

    Vern is right – the only time it’s been cool was the end of The Dark Knight, where you go “oh I get it now”

    Anyway, back to The Collector – 1) how much is Madeline Zima in it and 2) how naked does she get?

  8. I quite liked parts of the Saw movies. The “torture porn” bits were a little too much for me, but the insane characters and twisty plots worked pretty well if pretty bizarrely. This one sounds interesting in a tacky sort of way, so I might look for it when it comes out on DVD. I think it’s a definite rent-not-buy though.

  9. Also OFF TOPIC:

    Vern, got anything to say about this year’s Razzies? Personally I thought the G. I. Joe noms (with the possible exception of Marlon Wayans’ Worst Supporting Actor nod) were the most controversial. I mean, I know the film misses the opportunity for Christopher Ecclestone to magnificently proclaim “WE’RE GOING TO EAT THE EIFFEL TOWER”, which would have been undisputably the best line of any movie ever made; but still, is it on the same level as “Transformers 2”? (I don’t know, I haven’t seen the sequel, but G. I. Joe is about ten thousand times better than #1.)

  10. It’s funny you should mention Batman with this, because not that long ago there was a minor villain in the Batman comics who wore a lucha mask and specialised in booby traps. Only he was called El Sombrero and actually wore one, and ended up being lynched by the Joker.

  11. Blockbuster, huh? I wonder if kids are going to get nostalgic for Blockbusters as we might be for our beloved and out of business old family run video places. ‘Cause I’ll be shocked if Blockbuster is still around in ten years’ time.


    You didn’t ask me, but fuck the Razzies. I wonder if they even actually watch the movies or just go by some sort of dumbass internet consensus. Do they ever actually go after controversial targets?

  12. Paul, I’m not a fan of the Razzies. Here’s an essay I wrote about it a couple years back:


  13. I totally forgot about that movie. Wasn’t it supposed to be one of these overhyped “modern masterpieces” like “Hatchet”? I remember a few online critics went crazy for it, but then everybody forgot that it existed.

  14. I think you went pretty easy on this one, Vern. I hate this type of movie killer, the psycho savant. Seems like a big mute dumbo, and yet he is a mastermind when it comes to offing his victims. He sets up these ingenious traps in every room of a very large house that doesn’t seem like it was ever empty long enough to complete the task. It would take hours to set up that room with all the dangling fish-hooks alone, nevermind the room full of bear traps or the other ten rooms that he engineers to be galleries of pain. Of course the killer also relies heavily on coincidence and the other characters being morons in order to succeed. Easy to evade the cops when they wander lackadaisically into the jaws of an attack dog (an attack dog on a short chain, no less.) And then you have the protagonist, who gets a complete and utter fail for horror movie smarts. He had about 10,000 chances to kill the killer and get away, or notify the authorities, and yet he spends most of the movie sneaking around the house trying to provide small comforts to the killer’s victims. His contrived backstory feels like a page out of Empathy for Dummies.

  15. Great essay on the Razzies, Vern. I’d never seen that one. In case no one has mentioned it recently I’d like to reiterate that you are the fucking man.

  16. It’s official: I’m sick of the SAW bullshit.

    Go Away.

  17. Jareth Cutestory

    March 12th, 2010 at 8:06 am

    RRA & Gwai Lo: What did you guys think of that Wilson/Beckinsale horror film VACANCY that came out a few years ago? While not above criticism, I always figured that the film did a reasonable job in the plausibility department, which is where the SAW films fail so badly.

  18. Jareth – Never saw it.

    Though I did see that director’s later effort ARMORED, which was a decent Walter Hill-inspired old school B-actioneer. Kinda like Hill’s TRESPASS, and both had the same problem.

    Also he’s the only director I know of named Nimrod.

  19. Jareth Cutestory

    March 12th, 2010 at 9:15 am

    RRA: How about THE STRANGERS from a couple of years ago? In terms of tone and a more modest scope, there are similarities between VACANCY and THE STRANGERS.

    There was that Pixies song “Nimrod’s Son.” Do the kids these days still listen to the Pixies?

  20. Jareth – Didn’t see that either. Only thing I know about STRANGERS was Clive Barker going ballistic because his (decent) MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN got buried by the studio in favor of STRANGERS. Which btw was the producing pet project of the studio’s CEO.

    Pixies who?


    I’d forgotten he was a pest-control guy. I guess that answers my question about where he got all those bear traps?

    SPOILERS? Above

  22. Mr. S – He got them from Stephen Colbert.

  23. Jareth Cutestory

    March 12th, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    RRA: MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN is one of those films that left me confused. Were we supposed to take the whole premise seriously? The only thing I know about Barker are the two Pinhead movies, which leads me to think no humour was intended for MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN. Am I getting that right?

  24. Vern – I was thinking of that article when I asked. :) I just wondered what you thought of the latest batch.

    One thought – they seem to nominate a lot of singers-turned-actors, regardless of whether their performances were actually that bad. Has anybody else noticed this? I’m not saying that “Crossroads” is a work of divine genius, but I struggle to think what Britney did that was so bad that she deserved a razzie for it…

  25. That’s true. They nominate Madonna every time she even watches a movie, let alone stars in one. She got nominated for that James Bond movie and she had like two lines in it. They’re not even judging her performances anymore. She’s just a low-hanging fruit they can pluck to score some easy publicity. Fuck those guys.

  26. Never saw VACANCY either, but I did see THE STRANGERS, which I didn’t mind. I don’t really remember specifics, but I remember scenes with the masked killers materializing silently out of the darkness etc. that were pretty creepy. I don’t recall having any glaring issues of logic with the movie, but I seem to be noticing this type of thing more and more in my old age.

  27. “Were we supposed to take the whole premise seriously? ”

    Jareth – You ask this of MMT but not HELLRAISER?

    Though I have to say, Clive Barker needs to direct more. HELLRAISER was terrific, NIGHTBREED was abridged but fascinating, and LORD OF ILLUSIONS was pretty good.

  28. Speaking of movies called THE COLLECTOR, anybody ever see the one from the sixties starring Terrence Stamp as a guy who keeps a girl in his basement and doesn’t understand why she doesn’t like hanging out with him? I was kind of surprised to learn that this wasn’t a remake. After all, THE COLLECTOR (1965) was a movie that already existed so it stands to reason that somewhere someone was remaking it. Somebody probably is, with the “THE” removed, the E turned backward, and Peter from HEROES in the Terrence Stamp role. Too bad they can’t have any bear traps in it, though. The kids love those.

  29. Man, I’ve tried and tried to get into Clive Barker’s movies, but I think I have a chemical aversion to the guy. I find almost everything with his name on it cheap, ugly and cheesy. And not in the usual cheap, ugly and cheesy way that I enjoy elsewhere. Even when I find the story compelling, as with HELLRAISER, I just can’t get past some aesthetic barrier. I say that’s one franchise you can go ahead and remake, because THE HELLBOUND HEART is a decent little story and the time may be ripe to update the effects and the feathered eighties hair-dos.

  30. Clive Barker has a yen for uniquely horrifying conceptual nightmares which borders on genius, but often doesn’t translate to film all that well. His worlds can often be so surreal and alien that not many directors know what to do with them. Case in point, MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, which has great intentions but no ability to take Barker’s frightening little dream and make it into the plot of a movie without losing everything cool about it. Although it does feature SPOILER Ted Raimi getting wacked on the back of the head with a hammer in slow-mo so that his eyes pop out SPOILER which has to count for something. I think Barker may need a Cronenberg or Lynch or someone who really knows how to build a nightmarish atmosphere and plot to go along with the concepts. Bernard Rose made a great one with CANDYMAN, and I suspect someone like Christopher Gans or Kiyoshi Kurosawa could really hit one out of the park.

  31. VACANCY was better-than-decent, and relatively plausible by genre standards. (Of course, the whole premise kinda falls apart if you think about it too hard, but that’s horror for you.) It was tense and nicely-shot, free of that “restroom green” SAW look and digital fast-motion and/or shakey-cam trendy crap. Frank Whaley was good, and the film was just sadistic enough to be scary without wallowing. (The special features are another story, but I doubt the director had anything to do with that. You know what I mean if you saw it.)

    It’s the kind of film that makes you say “yeah, that one was pretty good” — but only after someone reminds you of its existence.

    KONTROLL was pretty entertaining, too, and was the reason I gave VACANCY a chance. I’d recommend it as a safe bet for those of you who don’t usually watch subtitled films. (Do we have any of those here?)

  32. Yeah, there was one guy who popped up one time. We mocked him mercilessly and he ran away with his tail between his legs.

  33. “restroom green”, man that nails that whole ugly SAW look.

    I totally forgot CANDYMAN is Clive Barker. OK, that one worked.

  34. One thing I never understood about Hellraiser, was what’s so bad about being a Cenobite. Yes, you look like shit and have to abandon your friends and family to hang out with all the other S/M freaks until the end of time, but I never heard anybody complain about it! They are always like: “Oooooh, this feels so great, it’s an unbelievable experience, me so horny” and to me they sound honest! Okay, I haven’t seen all of these movies, but I can’t remember someone saying: “Help me, I can’t take it anymore.” So have you ever considered that the Cenobites are the good guys? All they do is give people a good time for all eternity!

  35. Jareth Cutestory

    March 13th, 2010 at 7:32 am

    RRA: I guess it all comes down to tone. Despite all the looney shit that happens in HELLRAISER, it all seems to fit into the world that was put up there on the screen, like NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The premise of MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN isn’t more ludicrous than HELLRAISER, but the film was shot in such a manner than I couldn’t really determine its sincerity. It’s a problem I have with a lot of these new films that are made with no grit in them, or at best with some sort of stylized grit, like the UNDERWORLD movies. The heavy use of blue filters makes me think that the director is self consciously putting on a play, like in Greenaway.

  36. CJ – Also, they have such sights to show you. Misunderstood tour guides, that’s all those Cenobites are.

  37. I’m seeing Pinhead holding up one of those little flags and leading all the senior citizens off the bus. Thanks for that mental image, Gwai Lo.

  38. I don’t think the Cenobites were ever portrayed as villains until the third one when they were just running around the streets shooting CDs out of their face and shit. Before that, the villains were the assholes who summoned them. The Cenobites were just doing their job. They’re like traffic cops; They give you the ticket, but you’re the one who parked in the handicapped spot.

  39. Mr. M – True but for a series that had to continue beyond #2 just for the money, they had to do something.

    HELLRAISER was a pretty good movie.

  40. I saw this in the theater. Then I forgot I saw it. I don’t think I would ever have remembered seeing it. Then you reviewed it here. Now I’ll never forget I saw it. Damn.

  41. Jareth — yeah, I think you nailed it on MEAT TRAIN (um. maybe not the best choice of words, sorry). It seems like it’s sincerely trying, but its completely aimless and opaque. It seems kind of like it’s trying for realism, but everyone is pretty and wealthy and well dressed all the time. Then it seems like it might be trying for some sort of over-the-top gore thing, but that’s only for a few short scenes. The great premise of a scary man half-glimpsed in a secret, dark life is a great nightmare premise, but the movie doesn’t seem to realize that the more they reveal about him the less successful this premise is going to be. He’s almost the main character — we even get to see him almost lose a fight with some random guy, and it seems kind of like we’re supposed to be rooting for him? So now we’re sympathetic towards this guy who’s supposed to be the face of a threatening mystery. The more literal they make everything, the more you lose the whole crux of Barker’s story. The end becomes ludicrous rather than nightmarish. But I admit to feeling kind of bad about disliking it because it felt like the filmmakers really wanted to make something good. And wft was up with the creepy rough sex scene about 3/4 way through? It’s shot like it’s supposed to be sexy, but it plays very awkward and creepy, which would be fine if it seemed like either of those things made sense for the film or contributed anything to the tone, story, etc. Not sure what that was about.

  42. Mr. S – Your thoughts on LORD OF ILLUSIONS?

  43. I just realized that MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN has two members of the new A-Team in it. Bradley Cooper is the star, he’s playing Face, and Rampage Jackson (the new B.A.) is the weird guy who comes onto the train and makes fun of Vinnie Jones for looking like Forrest Gump. That was by far my favorite scene by the way. I also like it for the ludicrous ending. It’s not nearly as good as KNOWING but it’s that same kind of deal where when it ends I realize that I really did not expect the movie to go that far off its rocker.

  44. German Censorship Trivia: The German distributor of Midnight Meat Train decided to not relaese the movie in this country, after the FSK demanded too many cuts. (He released it uncut in Austria and Switzerland, though.)

  45. MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN is a terrible title. It sounds like an internet porn link I would NOT click on. Maybe that’s the point and we’re supposed to view the thing like a gay porno with the sex scenes edited out or something. I thought this movie was kind of bad because the story was ridiculous and the execution felt kind of like a Red Shoe Diaries episode gone wrong. I suppose it was worth watching as an oddity but feh.

  46. For a moment i though that Vern had reviewed the movie with Terence Stamp directed by William Wyler., the one he made after BEN HUR, i believe.

  47. Vern — yeah, incompetent as it is, I feel slightly torn about really trashing MEAT TRAIN because it just seems like the folks who made really wanted to do something weird and scary and not pull their punches. They weren’t very good at it, but I have to give some credit to their commitment. Maybe the sequel can get Liam Neeson and Sharlto Copley in there somehow? Dare I say, MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN: POCNO?

  48. Mr. S – It’s official.

    The POCNO joke has been run into the ground, sharing the same cemetary as “Gordon cheets on his wife and has a beer!”

  49. Nah I’m pretty sure I still find it funny. Give it a try, you’ll see.

  50. I was always pretty pleased with myself for putting together SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS. Just had a good giggle over it right now in fact

  51. I mean, if your pants travel long enough, they’re going to make it to the Big Easy eventually.

  52. God help me, I just laughed at that. I was ready to call the POCNO thing too, but it looks like it just found its second wind.


  54. “We mocked him mercilessly and he ran away with his tail between his legs.”

    Well, I hope you weren’t TOO hard on him. He’s already got it rough, having to go through life with a tail and all. Like some character out of Charles Burns’s BLACK HOLE — which Fincher is apparently NOT making, ’cause he’s busy instead with that Facebook film we’ve all been clamoring for. FACEBOOK BEGINS.

  55. …or should I have said FACEBOOK BEGINS: POCNO? Just to show I’m with it like all you swingers.

  56. Hey Johnny Depp is doing another PIRATES movie.


    I win.

  57. Damn you.

  58. Don’t blame me. I said it was over earlier, but NOOOOOOOOO it was apparently a benefactor of a “second wind.”

  59. one of those movies that is just nasty – not because it is trying to tell you something deep about human nature, but simply because it was made by (one imagines) a couple of overweight virginal heavy metal fans who should have been hugged more when they were kids

    the kind of emotionally and creatively stunted dipshits who think putting weird camera angles, coloured filters and Quake II sound effects on a generic slasher movie plot makes it “arty”.

    people who like evanescence and pro wrestling in non-ironic ways will love this

    fuck this shit

    fuck these people

    fuck them

  60. Yeah, because Evenascence is known for their violent lyrics and blood splattered shows. :)

    (Don’t get me wrong. I respect you opinion and I’m not really a fan of these kind of movies either, but your knowledge of stereotypes seems to be a little bit off.)

  61. Yeah, Anaru, I’m not sure if you’re trying to imply that fans of violent horror movies secretly like to listen to teenage girl music, or if you’re implying that Evanescence is metal. Either way, I think you’re off-track.

  62. I think he’s saying that Evanescence and The Collector both have the flashy trappings of “darkness” without actually having any substance worth getting dark over.

  63. But even then is Evanescence more the kind of “melancholic teenie darkness” than the “sadistic splatter darkness” of movies like this.

  64. Yeah, I’m just not getting the connection between heavy metal enthusiast virgins and Evanescence. Or pro-wrestling and Evanescence either. I’m with CJ, this guy doesn’t understand how stereotypes work.

  65. i apologise to all the evanescence fans i seem to have offended

    poorly educated trailer trash was the stereotype i was going for. thanks for playing though.

    evanescence sell “deep emotional poetry” to people who can barely spell their own names

    wrasslin sells “epic gladiatorial conflict” to same (or their brothers, if you are being super literal about it)

    this POS movie and its brethren sell “really dark heavy artistic horror” to same…

  66. hahahhahaha he just called you all evanescence fans. fail.

  67. I found the killer’s traps to be pretty ridiculous, and a mark against the film, but I still got a kick out of this movie. It at least had the grace to avoid the the over-the-top, Saw-style Avid farts and the killer himself was creepy. I love what they did with his eyes. The secret of that travel chest he brings around was unnerving. I like Josh Stewart too and I liked seeing him in a leading role. I’d like to see someone give him something to really sink his teeth into again like Cronenberg did.

  68. I just saw this and found it pretty disappointing, not least as I do actually have a certain amount of affection for the SAW movies, even though I could probably far easier give you a list of what’s wrong with them than one with what’s right with them. Marcus Dunstan does seem to actually have some directing talent, especially if you quite like that restroom green look, but at the same time there were large chunks of this where it was difficult to tell what was going on, and given that this had a paper-thin plot it was hard to care. But I was surpised you didn’t mention the bizzare, hilarious/awesome scene where the killer, midway through killing some poor saps, gently takes a spider from its web and releases it to the outside world. I’ve no idea what they were going for there, but it was definitely a unique touch.

    BTW, even though this made about $10million _worldwide_ it’s _still_ getting a sequel shot in RealD 3D, and therefore surely planned for a proper theatrical release. How does that work?

  69. The original Paul

    November 30th, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Saw this one. Wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t. Jeez, after going through the best of the horror / claustrophobic situation-type movies, I now seem to be going through the mediocre and the downright bad. “Frozen”, “P2”, “The Collector”, “Buried”… I gotta start going on recommendations again, hopefully pick SOMETHING better than this crap.

    Two other comments:

    1) I quite liked the beginning with the guy’s family. Best part of the movie. Sort of has the same quality that “Wolf Creek” had for me – the moment the killer showed up, the quality of the movie just shot down.

    2) ENOUGH WITH THE SHITTY BLUE FILTERS ON EVERY GODDAMN FUCKING HORROR MOVIE ALREADY. Jeez, you remember when people actually made horror movies that you could watch without squinting?

  70. The original Paul

    November 30th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Come to think of it, I am now declaring a moratorium on blue filters in horror movies. They shall exist no more.

    So we’ve had: shakycam, avid farts, and how this crap. What stupid shit will filmmakers choose to assault their well-meaning viewers with next? Any predictions?

  71. O.G. Paul, I might go you one better and declare a moratorium on all filters in all movies. No more desaturated colors or florescent greens or golden desert hues. Just make the fucking movie look like my eyes see. If I can tell that you fucked with the color to achieve a “look,” you have failed.

  72. Majestyk: But is it really just a problem with the use of filters? I’m more inclined to think that the problem is that filters are too easily used as substitutes for real style and compositional ability.

    Take the filters away from Wong Kar-Wai, for example, and you still have magnificently composed shots that articulate the themes of his films in subtle, intoxicating ways. Take away the blue filters from MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, on the other hand, and you have footage from any given CCTV.

  73. The problem isn’t even always the filters, either, but a lot of post-production trickery that directors do to try to jack up the atmosphere they failed to capture during shooting. The technology is nifty and has been used in interesting ways, but I agree with Jared that it’s often a substitute for actual style.

    The blue look is overused, but my pet peeve of the past few years has been the desaturated to the point of neat monochrome but still in color look. So many crime and horror films are going for that style, for a sense of grimness or grittiness or whatever, and all I can’t think of is… why not just shot the film for black and white? At least then we might get some rich contrast and cool shadows.

  74. The original Paul

    December 1st, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Jareth – the last film I saw that had what I’d call a legitimate stylistic use for the “filters” effect was “Traffic”. (Which is an excellent film, by the way.) That’s – what – eight, nine years ago now? I don’t know for certain without IMDB’ing it, but it seems like a very, very long time.

    There are ways to use colour that don’t involve covering your camera with dirty coloured paper. (Yeah, I know that’s not exactly what they do, but it’s what the end result seems like.) This may surprise some of you, but I think “Hero” is an excellent example of this. Yes, I know I’ve written a lot of very bad things about “Hero” on this forum, but I have no problems with the cinematography of that movie. It’s done very well, and could’ve made a good movie look great. Instead it makes a bad movie look pretentious, but that’s not the fault of the cinematographer.

    So in answer to your point, yes, I think the problem is that filters are used as substitutes for compositional ability. But is there a “legitimate” use for filters nowadays? Getting the particular “look” of “Hero” must have taken a great deal of effort. At the moment I’m not seeing any examples of the technique that don’t come off like a “quick fix” – somebody saying “we want our movie to be dark and gritty, let’s stick a blue filter over it and it’s done!” If somebody can name me an example, post-“Traffic”, of a “filtered” movie that was actually improved by the use of the technique, I’d take that back. But I can’t think of one myself.

  75. Majestyk,

    “Just make the fucking movie look like my eyes see.” Although, I don’t know man, if I can agree with that sentiment. One, I’m not sure any movie ever looks realistic per se. Cinematography (not that I have a complex understanding of its nuts and bolts) is such a multifaceted thing, with all the different choices of lenses, light source, light sensitivity, depth of focus, color palette, etc etc and so on. Even movies that we think look normal are based on a series of stylized choices. More broadly, I don’t think the movie camera is a good substitute or approximation for the human eye.

    Which is what I love about it. I see reality (or my version of it) every day; I want my filmmakers to experiment, and stylize, to play with light and color and all of that. It’s just I’m sick of the same few stylistic cliches (like the blue filter or the overdesaturation) being used over and over again by unimaginative filmmakers.

  76. O.G. Paul: Filters themselves aren’t anything new under the sun. Camus used them to great affect in
    BLACK ORPHEUS. This particular kind of filter use continues quite effectively in Guy Maddin’s stuff.

    I’d argue that Wong Kar-Wai uses filters in 2046 in a far more sophisitcated manner than Soderbergh
    did in TRAFFIC, but I like Soderbergh a lot too.

    I think Shinya Tsukamoto uses filters really well, particularly in SNAKE OF JUNE.

    I also like how the Pang Brothers and the Wachowskis use filters.

    I’m not a huge fan of PAN’S LABYRINTH, but I’m pretty sure filters were used in that one. And my
    complaints with the film have nothing to do with how the film looks.

  77. Dan, I understand that all cinematography involves stylization. But for me, nine times out of ten I don’t want to be aware of a movie’s photography having a “look.” In most cases, excepting movies that exist solely as exercises in style, the goal should be to find a way for the photography to be invisible. When everything is blue for no fucking reason, it doesn’t feel real to me, which fucks with my suspension of disbelief. Look at any John Carpenter movie, for example. The cinematography is obviously very specific, with its deep blacks and colorful highlights, but I never get the sense that it’s just the director of photography showing off so he has something flashy for his reel. It finds a good balance between artfulness and naturalism, which is what I prefer.

    Of course, this all goes back to the problem of most modern filmmaking techniques: From editing to scoring to cinematography, they all go out of their way to call attention to themselves. They force you to critique the filmmaking as you watch rather than just get absorbed in the story.

  78. Majestyk,

    The “invisible style” argument is a fair one (it’s what Truffaut thought John Ford accomplished, and what he aspired to), but I don’t share it as an overall philosophy. Carpenter is an interesting example, though, because while he’s not an overt, in-your-face stylist, I would still argue that many of his films don’t look particularly realistic or natural. It varies, obviously, with something like ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 being a more on the naturalistic side of things, but I don’t think there’s anything particularly naturalistic about, say, Sutter Cane’s mansion in IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS. Nor should there be.

    And there are plenty of highly stylized moments in his films, none more famous than the extended POV shot at the beginning of HALLOWEEN. The trick is, Carpenter is a consummate craftsman and executes his style so perfectly that it doesn’t feel overt. I think what you’re really arguing for is a modicum of taste, restraint, and skill in cinematography, and not so much a blunt realism or naturalism.

    “They force you to critique the filmmaking as you watch rather than just get absorbed in the story.”

    I don’t know, I think it’s possible to be absorbed in a film and still be aware of the technique. I don’t think it’s a mutually exclusive experience. Happened with me last night with FROZEN, which really wracked my nerves (I have a problem with heights, and dogs) but I will still aware of how the director was achieving his intended effect.

    Plus, and maybe this is a different argument, but story/narrative concerns are only one piece of the puzzle for when when it comes to what I want out of films. I can forgive problematic or indifferent or incoherent stories if there are things about the technique, the artistry, the atmosphere, etc, that I’m admiring. I mean, hell, that’s sort of the deal if like me you’re a fan of horror movies; I’d have to dismiss a lot of my favorites if being absorbed in the story was my main criteria for success.

  79. Majestyk: I think you can have it both ways. Take something like HAPPY TOGETHER: yes, you have no choice but to notice the stylization of the film that Wong’s whole raison d’etre – but I find it utterly absorbing precisely because of the senstivity and mindfulness of how the thematic variations employed in the cinematography. It’s a kind of intelligent voluptuousness, if that makes any sense.

    But I see what you mean. MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS gave me a headache. The cinematography didn’t gel with the script or performances at all.

    And a variation: Jennifer Lynch’s SURVEILLANCE, though probably an isulting bad film, was elevated to watchable precisely because of some smart choices in visual design.

  80. I don’t want to overstate my case here. I like eye candy movies like SPEED RACER and CHARLIE’S ANGELS, and I can’t really say that I don’t like filmmaking that calls attention to itself when I have a Brian De Palma collection a foot high. I think I just have a pet peeve about color-corrected photography. To me, it creates a buffer between me and the reality of the movie. With certain notable exceptions, I would rather see a movie that manages to have an eye-pleasing color palette without resorting to something so blatantly artificial as to tint everything blue.

  81. I see where you’re coming from. Colour correction can contribute to a wide range of moods, such as bringing a fantasy-tinged world like that in AMELIE to life, or subtly enhancing the chill of MARTYRS, but the same strategy isn’t going to work so well with your typical Mike Leigh joint. And nobody better go back and retoroactively apply it to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

    I also agree that the vast majority of the filter work we see these days is heavy handed.

  82. The original Paul

    December 1st, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Good points all, and maybe I should limit my point to the movies where the filtering is OBVIOUS. Watching the bad American remake of Kairo, originally named “Pulse” (which I don’t advise anybody to do, I wouldn’t have either if I’d have realised it was a remake) I honestly thought there was something wrong with my television – it’s that heavy-handed.

    Now in “Traffic”, the filtering is also obvious, but there’s a stylistic reason for it, and (in my opinion anyway) it works very well. In many of the films mentioned (“Amelie” in particular), the filtering is either subtle enough that it creates a mood without being overwhelming. I’d even put “The Matrix” into this category, at least when compared to the likes of “P2” and “The Collector”.

    I don’t know, ideally I’d like to see the right technique used for the right effect, not because it happens to be “fashionable” or makes the trailer easier to sell or whatever. Just doesn’t seem like that’s the case with overt filtering.

  83. O.G. Paul: At the very least, I’d like it if the filmmakers showed some commitment to the craft. When I work with colour toning (like sepia) or smearing/fogging techniques in the darkroom, I’m using chemicals, vaseline, and my hands. Scanning and photoshopping the negatives would be infinitely easier, but you never get the same textural effect.

    Also, those PULSE sequels were even worse than the American remake. Just awful.

  84. “When I work with colour toning (like sepia) or smearing/fogging techniques in the darkroom, I’m using chemicals, vaseline, and my hands.”

    I’m better understanding your appreciation for Guy Maddin.

  85. Maddin’s love for obsolete staging, filming and editing techniques really endears him to me.

    The pro-incest messages are just a happy bonus.

  86. I know, it’s a huge no-no to say something positive about BAD BOYS 2, but I really adore the movie for its colours. I seem to be the only one who noticed that, but it has a bright, strong, almost comic book-ish colour palette. Not the typical modern, glossy, cool, one coulour action movie filter (like part one, which was mostly yellow), it seems like every, single colour in this film has been enhanced for itself. It’s hard to describe for me, it must be seen. (Yes, I just asked you to watch BAD BOYS 2.) I can’t remember any other movie that looked that way.

  87. CJ,

    I have nothing but love for BAD BOYS 2, and the look is a big part of it. I know there’s a strong anti-Michael Bay tenor around these parts, and I can agree with certain criticisms, but for the most part I love the way his films look. The reflections he gets off the skin of the actors in BAD BOYS 2 is particularly nice looking… the whole movie has a rich, saturated look to it that I dig.

  88. Finally, more than one BAD BOYS II lover in one place at the same time! I also love the look of that movie and it’s good example of what I was talking about. Clearly, it’s stylized out the ass, but it always looks like that’s just what the reality of that scene looks like at the time. Not like, say, FASTER, where everything looks kind of yellow but you know it’s a photographic effect and not representative of what the characters are actually seeing.

  89. The colors in BAD BOYS 2 are really intense (as opposed to bright of flashy) and there’s a real high contrast between light and dark. It gives the movie an appropriately heightened feel without drawing too much attention to itself. (Except in the cases where it’s trying to call attention to itself, like the circular-tracking camera shootout in the old Hatian house).

    CJ & Majestyk: BAD BOYS 2 pact?

  90. We ride together, we die together. BAD BOYS 2 for life.

    Shit just got real.

  91. Majestyk, when you popped me from behind, I think you damaged some nerves…

    No.. wait. Sorry. Not an appropriate BB2 quote for this scenario. At all.

  92. I’m in! (Do we now have to make Bad Boys 2 tattoos? Because even I think that goes a little bit too far.)

  93. Yes. They will be on our forearms, and when we put our arms together they will form a picture of Will Smith holding 2 guns shouting “I AM THE DEVIL!”

  94. Sheesh, there goes my money for the next Canada trip. Things I do for movies with beautiful colors…

  95. Can mine say “Anybody want a grape soda?”

  96. “Ever make love to a man? Do you want to?”

  97. Or maybe the mosaic of Johnny Tapia as Jesus would be a better tattoo choice

  98. What about the burning cross with Michael Bay’s name over it?

  99. That would be a great backpiece. Like a yakuza, only retarded.

  100. The original Paul

    December 5th, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Eh, I think “Bad Boys 2” is the worst moviegoing experience I’ve had, and easily the worst “legitimate” film I’ve ever seen (excluding pornography and certain made-for-cable or made-for-DVD crap). But I can’t see a bandwagon without jumping on it. So count me in!

    Does that mean I get to drive a Ferrari along the coast with the top down? Wearing ray-bans? At sunset? To a backdrop of military hardware and nuclear explosions? Because that would be AWESOME.

  101. Funny, with THE COLLECTION out now, they really are trying to turn this into a continuing series. As a defender of the SAW films and majority of the sequels, I really don’t like the COLLECTORTIONs.

  102. I just watched THE COLLECTION last night, and for an unnecessary sequel to a movie I didn’t particularly care for, it was pretty good. It takes the ALIENS approach to sequels and tries to expand the story and genre a bit. I feel like a lot of makers of pointless sequels try to make the ALIENS comparison, but this one does it very literally: the plot involves the sole survivor of the first film being recruited to guide a team of soldiers to face off against the villain.

    It’s pretty god damned ridiculous from start to finish, but does it with a straight face, and has a surprisingly good cast (Bubs from THE WIRE is in there somewhere). It reminded me a bit of HOSTEL PART 3 in that it has fun trying to buck your expectations. It introduces a whole bunch of characters at the beginning who you assume will be the leads, only to kill almost all of them off by, like, 15 minutes in. I love that kind of crap.

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