For reasons I’ve never quite considered, I do like a good horror picture. Oh, I don’t think that makes me a sick or psychotic person at all. I think it’s that horror – a truly good (not great) horror film – taps into some of our deepest fears. About the dark. About abduction. About knives or bullets or other blunt instruments. About isolation. About being caged. About the sight of blood. About entrapment. About bugs. About killers. About death, even. Life is so fragile, after all, and we never truly know when it’s going to be taken away from us, and some folks who make good horror (again, not great) learned a long time ago that “if you build it, people will come.”
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Elena (played by the comely Emma Fitzpatrick) didn’t realize that she was in for the night of her life by attending what she thought was going to be a killer underground ‘rave’ warehouse party. Well, ‘killer’ was right as it turns out the venue was little more than an elaborate booby trap meant to ensnare hundreds of victims for ‘The Collector,’ the latest masked psychopath to put teens on the run. By a strange twist of fate, Elena frees Arkin – the Collector’s last intended victim – and just when the man thinks he’s finally free, he finds himself abducted once more: this time by a team of crack mercenaries hired by Elena’s millionaire father. Despite the odds being stacked against them, they’re intent on finding the young girl before any harm comes of her, but they’ll need Arkin to led them back into the territory of his deepest, darkest fears if they’re to have a chance.
God only knows what’s waiting for them …
THE COLLECTION is a sequel to 2009’s modest hit THE COLLECTOR, which was the first to feature the said psychopath – a masked man whose apparently fetish is to collect human specimens for display in his own grotesque menagerie. And, for all its faults, I thought much of THE COLLECTION to actually be well-made if not a bit predictable, delivering exactly the same kind of nerve-wracking suspense audiences long enamored with the SAW franchise have come to expect. How is that possible? Well, it’s probably because the writers of SAW IV, V, VI, and VII were none other than Patrick Melton and Dunstan – the same team at work here.
So – much like has already been done in the SAW yarns – audiences can expect more than the lion’s share of elaborate traps and get-ups that promise to produce more blood per ounce than any other franchise worth its weight in human bones. Yes, it’s gratuitous, but it’s just what the doctor ordered when it comes to contemporary horror. For that matter, as much as we protest things used to be different, there really isn’t that much difference stylistically in this than say most schlock produced in the 80’s; if anything, the writers have grown a bit more involved in fleshing out the craziness (pun intended), and the film works entirely on that level.
To her credit, Fitzpatrick rises to the challenge, becoming the newest scream queen to enter that unfortunate sorority of actresses. She’s to be commended for showing up, taking her punches, and rising to the challenge to save the hero when the stakes are down. Josh Stewart returns as Arkin (from the first film), and he as well embodies the character with enough cynicism to make him real along with enough realism to make audiences root for him. The rest of the cast? Meh, it feels a bit obligatory, almost as much so as having the main protagonist wear a leather fetish mask. Didn’t Jason and Leatherface corner the market on those scares? Is there really room for one more?
If anything, THE COLLECTION’s downside is that it expects its audience to suspend disbelief perhaps a bit farther than most films of this variety. I mean just how much disposal income can one psychopath have? He’s outfitted an old hotel with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and steel and traps; where does he get all of his money? I honestly expected that there would be some grand reveal in the final reel, and I expected he’d pull off his mask to show me none other than Donald Trump waiting underneath. But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
THE COLLECTION is produced by LD Entertainment and Fortress Features. DVD distribution is being handled through Lionsgate. As for the technical specifications, the film looks and sounds about as good as anything else in the horror genre these days; there are a few directorial flourishes compliments of Dunstan (who pulls double duty here as writer and director) that could’ve used some tightening, but film is a form of art. Lastly, there are a wealth of special features – five short flicks exploring the film and the process; a handful of alternate scenes; the theatrical trailer; as well as Dunstan and Melton’s audio commentary – that should keep interested parties glued to their seats if not already impaled on them!
RECOMMENDED. It may not be perfect. It may not be the most original. But THE COLLECTION is lean and mean enough at just over 80 minutes that it should keep the interest of horror fans, at least, and that’s no easy feat. Enjoy it for what it’s worth – don’t look for it to make perfect sense – and you’re liable to have as much fun with it as I did.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Lionsgate provided me with an advance DVD copy of THE COLLECTION by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.