Film Review – The Collection
The Collection (2012) starts off with a bang. A crowd of scantily clad, sexy people dance together in a hip-looking techno club. All of a sudden, someone trips over a wire, initiating a mechanism made up of steel spikes on a rotator. The spikes twirl viciously and move from the ceiling toward the unsuspecting victims. Nearly all get split into pieces. Did anyone notice this machine was fast approaching them, given that it was propped up less than fifteen feet above their heads? Of course not. The people that inhabit this world must have some condition that doesn’t allow them to tilt their heads upward, because most of the traps they fall for could have easily been discovered if they’d used something called “peripheral vision.” But alas, this is a place where moving your head is prohibited.
Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton wrote the film’s screenplay, with Dunstan taking the directorial chair. In case you didn’t know, this is the same team that brought us the last four Saw entries and The Collector (2009), to which this is a sequel. You know what that means: lots of blood, lots of brutality, and plenty of mindless gore and violence. If “torture porn” is your thing, then this is definitely for you. Sadly, it isn’t to my tastes. I found this to be a dull, unoriginal horror movie that relied less on creativity and more on shock. It didn’t know whether to be over the top ridiculous or over the top horrific, and instead sat uncomfortably in the middle.
The hook (pardon the pun) involves a psychotic killer (cleverly named “The Collector”) who kidnaps and maims victims, and stores their bodies in the dreadful basement of his secret warehouse. If he doesn’t kill, he’ll perform gruesome experiments that will leave people looking and acting like drugged-out zombies. His warehouse is stocked with medical equipment, cages, odd torture machines, display cases, aquariums—everything you can possibly think of as a horror villain cliché. To go even further, in case anyone were to venture into his dungeon of doom, The Collector has rigged every room and hallway with booby traps just waiting to slice up anyone walking by (and not looking up).
All of this elaborate set-up got me thinking. Clearly, The Collector has resources! Not only can he find and rent out an entire warehouse, but he also fills it with all this strange and unique equipment. He also has the time to decorate each room with its own “theme,” like a haunted house. The medical field is an obvious specialty of his, and he has a knack for making creative machinery. If he has the money and time to create all this carnage, don’t you think it would be more apt for him to focus his energy on more positive work? Maybe he should become a surgeon; no doubt he likes cutting people up. Or maybe he should build specialized traps; I’m sure hunters around the world would be more than happy to pay him for it. Instead of using all those antique chests to stuff people in, sell them for a pretty penny! What about interior design? Not everybody can make each room of their house feel as distinctive as he probably could. If it weren’t for all that “insane” stuff, he could make a nice living with all of his talents.
We also have protagonists. Trailers very conveniently spoil The Collector by letting us know that Arkin (Josh Stewart) escaped as the sole survivor. Barely alive and unable to shake what happened, Arkin learns the meaning of Murphy’s Law when he is dragged back to The Collector’s hideout the very same night he escaped. A young girl named Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) was taken by The Collector, and within the next few hours will most likely be dead. However, a rescue party, led by Elena’s sworn protector Lucello (Lee Tergesen), is determined to find her, and they force Arkin to help them through the maze of terror.
And thus we get our fair share of jump scares, idiotic choices, and plenty of death. It’s no surprise that the rescue mission doesn’t go as planned; they never do. What I didn’t expect was—despite being advertised as horror to the tenth degree—how silly The Collection is. Some scenes not only ask us to suspend disbelief, they ask us to suspend rationality. I particularly enjoyed the part where Elena (who looks a hell of a lot like Natalie Portman) attempts to pick a lock by using her bra, or another moment when The Collector searches for someone by letting loose a jarful of tarantulas. If this were more of a screwball horror, then I would be up for it, but the tone is much more serious than that. As a result, the movie falters.
What it does do, though, is provide an opportunity to name the next sequel. I’m going to go with: The Collectioner.
Final Grade: D+