"I'll just get my gear."

The Collection

tn_collection slashersearch13Like its part 1, THE COLLECTOR (2009), I can’t say that the 2012 sequel THE COLLECTION is any great shakes. But man, it starts out with a bang.

If you haven’t heard of THE COLLECTOR it’s because it was a pretty low key release, opening on 1,325 screens. The first SAW movie was released on almost a thousand more screens. I make the comparison because this one’s definitely in the SAW vein – in fact it started with a rejected script for a SAW sequel. It has a genius inventor/torturer in an S&M mask who sets up preposterous contraptions, bear traps and hidden razor blades in the sizable home of a rich family. But the cool gimmick is that the protagonist Arkin (Josh Stewart, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES) is a traitor who installed the security system and then tried to rob the place while they were supposed to be on vacation, not tied up by a maniac. He stumbles on this nightmare and tries to do the right thing and help them. They’re like “I’m so happy to see you! Wait– why are you here?”

This sequel has Arkin where we last saw him: locked up in a box, one piece in the Mousetrap Game of Death that will set off what’s gotta be one of the most audacious first kills in slasher history. Like many horror movies we begin with some young party lovers, they go to a big rave at a warehouse and have a great time dancing terribly. But then Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) sees her chump boyfriend, who told her he had to work late, kissing some bitch. As she storms out in tears the camera pulls up to reveal the Collector, or The Collection-Haver, whatever the masked killer is called, standing above in the rafters, watching her.

Okay, so I’m thinking he’s gonna follow her home and set up his traps. Nope. She finds a side room to cry in, and there’s the Arkin-in-a-box. (HERE COMES SPOILING.) When she opens the box a dart shoots out, attached to a cable. With Arkin’s help she dodges it, but the camera does one of those PANIC ROOM through-the-walls digital shots where it follows the cable into the wall, around a series of pulleys as it triggers various machinery including a steam powered engine and we’re back up above the dance floor with The  Collectionist watching a bunch of huge threshers start up, spin, lower themselves and mow down almost everybody on the dance floor, including some of the characters we’ve just met. And then everybody who gets away from those gets fenced into a cage like chickens on a factory farm, and then the cage closes in like the STAR WARS trash compactor and poor Elena sits and watches from the outside helplessly as her best friend and a whole bunch of other people get smooshed to death.

Shit! I didn’t see that coming! Even you anti-CG zealots gotta respect the crazy-over-the-topness of the idea. If not for the space station crash in JASON X this chump might’ve caught up with Voorhees on that one.

mp_collectionObviously it doesn’t escalate from there, but luckily it has a good premise. Elena ends up in a box, Arkin jumps out a window and escapes to police custody in the hospital (kinda harsh for possibly the sole survivor of what must be the worst American massacre since 9-11). Elena lives in a big house with a rich father (Christopher McDonald) and he’s even on crutches, so you’ve got plenty of room for traps and suspense sequences along the lines of part 1. But the dad has a better idea: he sends his long time head of security Lucello (Lee Tergesen, NO ONE LIVES) to the hospital to bust Arkin out and make him lead a team of mercenaries to the Collector. So it’s an ALIENS deal, basically.

Although nothing matches the dance floor massacre, there are several inspired bits of absurdity here. Arkin has a series of self-inflicted scars on his arm that he used to keep track of distance and direction while being transported in the box, and they take him right back to the abandoned hotel where they had him locked up. Inside they find many previous abductees, who are forced to take part in weird games and tests in order to not get killed, and many of them have gone mad. Some are basically like an army of zombie attack dogs. Also he has another collection besides the prisoners, he has all these skeletons and body parts sewn together into different monster shapes. I’m no art critic but I don’t like this guy’s tastes.

If you saw the first one you may remember that this Collector guy’s day job is as an exterminator (how does he afford all these booby traps on a pest control salary? Must invest well or something), so there were alot of weird shots of spiders and stuff. In this one he knows Elena is hiding in a room so he lets loose a bunch of tarantulas, his version of bloodhounds or hunting dogs (although he also has those). She holds up admirably, letting the hairy little fuckers crawl all over her without making a peep.

One nice moment is when they find themselves in a cage and Arkin has to pull off his cast and unset his broken arm in order to stick his hand through a hole and unlock it. Turning his arm into a Reach toothbrush. Also I like when he has two bullets in a gun and his plan is to shoot an innocent bystander out the window, then shoot the ambulance that comes to save him. I don’t know why he didn’t aim for the guy’s leg or something, but it was a pretty good plan for getting help from the police.

It’s odd, McDonald appears in the opening scene, driving and giving an emotional talk to young Emma and promising to always be there for her just before getting nailed by another car. I thought it was weird that they could get him for a bit part like that, figured he was friends with the producers or something. Later we find out that he actually survived the crash but remains crippled from it. Oh, okay, that explains it, I thought. Except then we only see him a couple more brief times and he doesn’t do a whole lot. Kinda weird.

This weirdo The Collector (played by stuntman Randall Archer, different guy from part 1) is maybe a little too self-conscious about trying to be an iconic horror figure, what with his mask and everything. But they do a good job of keeping him mysterious and vague, and his eyes and smile through that thing are pretty creepy. And when he suddenly bursts through a door with a gun and two dogs that shows that he’s not just following the Jigsaw, Voorhees or Krueger playbooks.

Unfortunately, despite alot of good ideas, THE COLLECTION never really recaptures that ballsiness of the opening, and doesn’t really build enough onto the cool ideas it has. For example they bring up this concept of the game the prisoners are forced to play, but there’s not enough scope or detail to it for it to end up very interesting. And maybe the biggest problem is a lack of memorable characters. Both Stewart and Fitzpatrick are fine in the leads, but nothing more, and not given much personality to work with. And despite watching this recently I’ve already forgotten everything about the team of mercenaries. It’s not an ALIENS or BLADE 2 situation where they’re clearly delineated.

Returning director Marcus Dunstan and co-writer Patrick Melton wrote FEAST I-III, SAW IV-VII and PIRANHA 3DD. Dunstan is also doing a segment in ABCS OF DEATH 2 and played a hunter in HATCHET II, so he’s probly pretty comfortable doing a sequel. And I guess comfortable is what this is. If you somewhat enjoyed the first one like I did then this will provide you equal or slightly greater somewhat enjoyment.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 at 11:45 am 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.

27 Responses to “The Collection”

  1. I watched this one having no idea it was a sequel, but I liked it a lot anyway. It’s not original at all, but it’s an entertaining grab-bag of slasher/torture highlights. The Collectionist doesn’t have a ton of personality, but you gotta give it to the guy. He’s versatile. He must have studied serial killers his whole life, Demon Dave-style, and learned all their tricks. He’s got merit badges in all the major slasher skill sets: clockwork traps, standard knifework, suspense stalking, both physical and psychological torture, secret passageways, recreational vivisection, medical experimentation, corpse sculpture, animal husbandry, people-under-the-stairsification, third-act explosives, even basic small arms. This motherfucker came to play.

    This kind of movie already seems kind of dated, a remnant from a dying subgenre, like the last few stragglers of the slasher cycle that came out in the early 90s. But I think it’s a nice send-off for the torture porn fad of the Early Oughts. We seem to be in those rare periods in between major horror movements, when nobody is really sure what to rip off anymore. Let’s hope we get a bunch of weird also-rans before the next big thing comes out and we all get sick of its imitators.

  2. the big trend at the moment is found footage, is it not?

    it’s ironic that there was a trend for a few years of “torture porn” that was supposedly pushing the envelope of onscreen gore and violence, then it snapped back in the other direction and we got the bloodless, goreless, toothless and scareless PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series, it’s enough to make you miss the “torture porn”

  3. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 2nd, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    My favorite bit is at the end when Lucello faces the killer and they both pull a knife from the same corpse and start fighting each other, UNDER SIEGE style. Like you say there’s lots of good ideas here, with a little more thinking and maybe some better actors this could have been great. Mixing the concept of ALIENS with a slasher flick and throwing in some actiony bits too, on paper that’s genius. Too bad it didn’t fully come through in the execution.

  4. and speaking of “torture porn”, I saw the first two HOSTEL movies and enjoyed them a lot, in fact I found the “torture porn” moniker to be a bit of a misnomer, they were just thrillers with moments of intense gore, but not a hour and a half of someone strapped to a chair and getting tortured like you lead to believe, there’s a lot more to those movies than people give them credit for

    I never saw any SAWS though

  5. What’s the Slasher Search 2013 poster from? NIGHT SCHOOL? A prequel to EQUILIBRIUM?

    Griff – Although the HOSTEL movies somehow copped more heat for it, I think the SAW movies (especially the later ones) skew closer to the “torture porn” definition. Those really are movies where you aren’t supposed to give half a fuck about the victims and are just there to see them get torn apart in cool ways.

  6. GUYS I’m sorry, MAJOR SPOILERS

    OMG I love this movie. I saw it on a Sunday afternoon while my girlfrend was asleep in my lap. It totally spoke to me in that 90 minute period of my life. I thought the opening kill was great. I knew going in that the friends were going to die right away but I found it really sad. Especially since that girls death being crushed is a small fear of mine.

    There are so many goofy “bad ass” touches in the film I love. My favorite is the awesome Jet Li like move of jumping down, doing some martial arts moves, managing to spin somebody upside down and catching them with a rope and swinging them to another room all in one motion.

    I also actually did a fist pump when Lee Tergesen’s character managed to survive his trap and show up. It’s too bad he wasn’t able to put up a great fight. I also loved that Arkin is basically the few male final girls and when he decides to fight back he fucks him up.

    The only thing that makes me sad is that they end it on a bit of a downer ending. I mean, Arkin goes crazy and is just going around killing exterminators because he’s seen a zillion slasher movies knowing that they don’t really die. Even though it’s pretty clear The Collector is dead as a door nail

  7. The pretty blonde DJ in the big first sequence is a friend of mine and it was one of the funniest things to see her get obliterated like that. Talk about a bit part, pardon the pun. It turns out a great kill in a horror movie is even more fun when it’s someone you know well. I always thought it would be kind of weird and it does take you completely out of the movie. And then in the special features, they show footage of them shooting gallons of chunky gore with a big air-canon and I’ve rarely laughed so much. Poor gal.

  8. they specifically made and marketed this one so that you wouldn’t know it was a sequel. It’s the only REquel I can name that isn’t based on a previously proven namebrand. The first film cost 3 million and did like 11 million. This one cost 10 million. I don’t know exactly how it happened. But I’m glad it did.

    Also, it wasn’t a Saw script, it was a separate script that actually got them the job for Saw IV-VI. They considered doing a Saw prequel starring a young Jigsaw who is inspired to make his later games by a serial killer run-in in his youth. Fortunately, they canned that.

    The first one is one of my favorite slasher films in the last 10 years. The sequel is really fun, but not as good. I really liked how it felt like they were skipping a couple of sequels and getting straight to the really weird, bizarro sequel territory.

    Hope they make part 3.

  9. One downside to this movie: when it was in theaters, I ended up seeing it a second time with a good buddy because we missed the first movie we intended to see. When we got to the theater our only options were this, or Silver Lining’s Playbook. I wanted to see the latter movie, but didn’t really wanna watch a romcom with my bro.

    He jumped in front of a train about 12 hours later. When I saw Silver Lining’s I felt pretty shitty, cause that might have lightened his mood a lil’ bit.

    #uncomfortableanecdote

  10. “He jumped in front of a train about 12 hours later.”

    dude, seriously?

  11. I’m terribly sorry about that

  12. I cared about the dude a lot, but I also respect a person’s absolute right to self-determination. Anyway, I’m sorry to derail this conversation.

    Better anecdote:

    I went to the premiere for this movie at ScreamFest ’12. At the afterparty, some coked up douchebag started a fight in the lobby and punched the director of Feast 1-3 and his brother. As it happens, that director is the son of Clu Gulager. So, I sat in the lobby with him for a bit (I was *very* drunk) while he explained what a “tough guy” was to me. Said I wasn’t a tough guy because I was reading Raymond Chandler, but that I might be a tough guy because of my patent leather docs. It was weird and cool and fun. Then my girlfriend picked me up, (ironically enough, she was at a screening of CLUE) and I met her sister for the first time. Somehow, I made a good impression, in spite of being I-lost-count-a-long-time-ago drinks deep.

  13. flyingguillotine

    October 3rd, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I was at that Screamfest screening, as well. I must have left before the fisticuffs. I spoke with Marcus for a couple of minutes at the party… oddly, he was just standing off to the side by himself.

    Super nice guy, just a really down to earth fan of the genre. He could be any dude at a Fango con, and in this case he just so happens to make horror movies, too.

    I had never seen the first one. I liked THE COLLECTION okay. That thresher is a nice opener, and I dug the scene when he comes in guns-a-blazin’.

  14. Oh, we probably met, then.

    The fisticuffs were between the two parties happening there.

  15. I wasn’t at this party.

  16. Are you sure you didn’t punch anyone in the gulager family, Sternshein?

  17. I think these COLLECTOR movies are exactly what we worried the SAW sequels would be: all traps and no mystery/morality. Even the worst SAW sequels, which Dunstan and Melton wrote, still tried to continue the story and have something to say (health care man, why they gotta deny cancer treatment?)

    The mercenaries were so unmemorable, even with recognizable Adre Rojo in there. That dance club kill was wild though.

    The third one sold be THE COLLECTIVE, a group of collectors who pay dues and everything.

  18. I donno, man. The Collector was really well filmed. And it had a great 20 minute long, silent, cat and mouse scene. It was also totally gratuitously violent.

    I loved it.

  19. grimgrinningchris

    October 5th, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    This review immediately made me think of GHOST SHIP and its amazing opening scene on the party deck of the ocean liner. Nothing in the world that they followed that with was ever going to live up to it, much less top it. They should do a special edition release of just the first 5 minutes repeated over and over.

  20. The Original... Paul

    October 6th, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Fred – I agree with you about the original “Collector”. I gotta say that the sequel, from Vern’s review, does sound more interesting than the original one was.

    Griff – to put it mildly, I agree with you on there being more in “Hostel” than it’s given credit for. And speaking of which…

    Can we stop lumping “Hostel” in with the rest of the “torture porn” brigade? Look, I actually like the “Saw” movies, and I admire what they’ve accomplished in terms of a cohesive storyline even if the execution is sometimes flawed. But “Hostel” is a genre-expanding masterpiece that would IMO fit comfortably on just about any list of “best horror movies ever made”, should anybody even try to attempt to compile such a list. The arc that the main character goes through – he starts off as this unlikeable boozed-up pussy-hunter who’s completely complacent about his own status in life, then has everything he’s taken for granted stripped away from him, bit by bit, until all he can cling to is the tiniest glimpse of humanity that probably even he didn’t know he had in him – is one I’ve never seen done before, and certainly never expect to see done anything like as well as it was done in “Hostel”.

    What I think that Hostel’s many imitators (and it has a lot of imitators) completely fail to realise is that 1) the truly horrifying bit of that movie isn’t the “torture porn” itself, but the combination of tense buildup and horrifying conclusion, and 2) the whole point of putting an (up to that point) fairly unlikeable character in that situation in the first place was to demonstrate just what he had to go through in order to find some humanity. To put it mildly, getting a load of actors to play completely iredeemable assholes and then showing them have their skin pulled off with fish-hooks is NOT an acceptable substitute. It entirely misses the point of what made “Hostel” as great as it was. Hell, you might say that the whole point of “Saw” was to put unlikeable people in positions so extreme that it changes their whole world-view, yet I can’t see anything in any of the “Saw” movies that demonstrates that the filmmakers ever really “got” it.

  21. Speaking of Ghost Ship, I am so tired of the wire slicing people in pieces gag. Final Destination 2, Ghost Ship, Cube (the first one), 2001 Maniacs, and Piranha are just one of many instances of this over used kill.

  22. Re: Paul

    Rewatch hostel, it’s a very poorly made film in parts. Like, in all the non-torture scenes.

  23. Paul, potentially better and certainly ambitious but failure in execution, particularly the mercenaries.

  24. The Original... Paul

    October 7th, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Tawdry – I’ve already watched it at least six times, I honestly don’t think my opinion is going to change. To me it’s perfectly paced from start to finish, the acting is damn-near flawless from everybody, the direction is perfect, the scoring absolutely nails the mood of each and every scene, and the cinematography not only suits the film perfectly but makes it look as though it were made on a budget of twice as much as it was. I can absolutely understand someone not liking it – this is pretty much the definition of a film that’s not for everybody. But I cannot for the life of me understand how anybody could think it’s “poorly made”. To me it’s easily on a par with Phillip Kaufman’s “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers” and George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”. And it’s better than anything I’ve ever seen from John Carpenter, including “The Thing”, a great-but-flawed film that I love and have probably seen more times than Vern has had birthdays. It’s that damn good.

    What I’m getting at here is that I regard this site as a place where films like “Universal Soldier: Regeneration”, “Blood and Bone”, “Kill Zone” and their ilk – films that probably wouldn’t be noticed, much less celebrated, in other places – can be promoted and shared between fans. It just depresses me that a masterpiece like “Hostel” doesn’t get more recognition here. (And I don’t use the word “masterpiece” lightly.) I mean, WHY? Is it because it’s from a new director, whose only previous film “Cabin Fever” was seriously flawed in terms of both character and structure? Did people go into “Hostel” with negative preconceptions because of this? Or because of the whole “torture porn” debate that it sparked? I just don’t get it.

    Other times when I’m in the minority on something, I get why people don’t agree with me. “Casino Royale”, which I think fails as an adaptation and as a story, succeeding only on the level of product placement, I despise, but I still get why people like it. “Mission: Impossible 3”, which I loathe for everything it is and everything it represents, I can understand people having fun with. But this one I don’t understand. What are you guys missing? It’s like some producer made an “American cut” of the film that butchered it and removed everything that worked about it, and that’s what people are judging, instead of the film that I saw.

    Anyway I’m gonna shut up about “Hostel” now. IMO it’s a masterpiece, done deal, move along. To…

    …Fred – that’s actually a recommendation of sorts for me. A great concept but shaky execution appeals far more to me than a mediocre or bad concept that’s executed well. Plus, I have long and varied experience of dealing with mercenaries, so I don’t expect that to be a problem. My real issue is that the original film didn’t strike me as particularly good in terms of either concept or execution.

    Finally Sternshein – I did notice the thing from “Final Destination 2” that I thought aped the pre-credits death at the start of “Cube”. But honestly, that whole exploding-fence-sausage-slicer thing showed such a complete disregard for any laws of physics that I’m aware of that I was kinda overawed by the audacity of it. I think it says something about the stats of the human condition, though, when you can have a legitimate grievance that too many people are being sliced into pieces by wires for your entertainment…

  25. I like CABIN FEVER a lot too because although it’s not very scary, it is pretty damn funny

  26. I enjoyed this one, although not as much as the original. There’s a lack of imagination when it comes to the traps that I found a little disappointing. Considering they’re entering into the domain of this guy I was expecting some ingenious trap designs but it’s pretty standard stuff unfortunately.

    I’m guessing there was some more scenes shot with McDonald that were cut out. On the DVD making of there’s a quick behind the scenes shot of him sitting across from a tied up Arkin in his mansion that isn’t in the final movie, or on the deleted scenes section. Watching it I thought it was strange how little he had to do.

    Aside from the delightfully insane opening massacre I loved the final showdown between Arkin and The Collector, and the epic piece of music that plays over it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fciH0Vwa1fg

    So yeah, all in all not perfect but a fun little movie.

  27. I think the father character and the lead mercinary were originally the same guy, but they wanted to anchor the film with a “respectable” actor, but couldn’t get McDonald to do the action bits, so they split the character into to.

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