Sometimes you find yourself watching a movie that has a weak structure, plot holes bigger than any hole has the right to be, and all but throws logic out the window. On some bizarre level, however, you still enjoy it. This is how I felt when watching The Collector, a small budget horror/thriller released last year that was looking to continue to capitalize on the popular torture themes the genre has been producing so much of recently.
The film starts with us being introduced to Arkin (Josh Stewart), an ex-con setting up various security devices for a rich family who’ve built a house in the middle of nowhere. He, along with a dozen other workers, are feverishly trying to finish the job before the family leaves on a vacation either later.
Before finishing up his work, Arkin runs into the youngest daughter, Hannah (Karley Scott Collins) who he bonds with over an imaginary tea party in her room. Her father, Michael (Michael Reilly Burke) finds the two but before he can get suspicious of the encounter they bond over both having children of the same age. Sympathetic to Arkin’s seemingly down-and-out state, Michael gives him his pay for the week plus a little extra. Arkin then heads straight to a bowling alley, where his ex-wife works, and hands over the money.
This is where things get confusing, as Arkin speaks with his daughter like he barely gets to see her, giving her a teddy bear for her birthday before his ex-wife scolds him over being useless, and not providing enough money. The scene makes it seem like Arkin is a bum who doesn’t support his family, when moments later we realize it’s the ex-wife who’s in trouble with loan sharks and it’s Arkin who’s doing all he can to bail her out. This is probably one of the worst scenes in the movie (as it’s important because it sets up Arkin’s motivation) and if it had been done better would’ve helped fill up one of the many holes that plague the film.
Arkin was, in fact, casing the place he was working, and has a connection to someone who wants him to break into the house and steal the contents of the safe hidden inside. Needing the money for the loan sharks by midnight that same night, Arkin knows it’s now or never and moves ahead with his plan to break into the house. Little does he know, however, that someone far more dangerous has already broken into the house and booby trapped it from top to bottom with malicious devices. Not in order to keep people out but to keep them in.
Written by the team who brought us Saw IV, V, VI and soon to be VII, death traps seem to be the logical route to go, as it’s what they know best. The house of traps is quite impressive and there’s no doubt the gore factor is here as well. It’s more the complete and utter lack of realism that misses the point here. With literally only hours to do so, the Collector manages to impressively booby trap an entire house with things that will have you chuckling at certain points (a room filled with nothing but bear traps) and cringing at others (a room with a floor coated in some sort of acidic glue that ironically burns everything but the floor itself.) It’s something that you must look past in order to enjoy the film to it’s true potential.
The acting (mainly done by Stewart) is actually quite good, and despite the lack of coherent background on why he does what he does, he’s an easy character to route for. The supporting cast is equally solid, including the Collector himself, played by Juan Fernandez, who has no speaking part, but pulls off the creepy psychopathic body language perfectly.
The film is directed by Marcus Dunstan (one of the film’s writers) and for his directorial debut he does quite a good job. He keeps the tension rising, and paces it so that all that is illogical about the film doesn’t ruin the mood he’s trying to portray.
Make no mistake about it, The Collector is a film that can make you shake your head in complete disarray with how much isn’t explained or rationalized. On the other hand, it’s also an intense thriller that, while still seen as completely irrational, will leave some wanting more once all is said and done. I’m in the latter category, as I believe I’ve found my guilty pleasure for the year.
The Collector comes to DVD with a 2.35:1 anamorphic image, and it looks solid enough throughout. It‘s nothing that stands out but it gives the feel the film wants to portray; you‘re never taken out of the moment by poor visualization. The sound is also pretty decent, however, at times the music comes in quite loud, only to have a softer spoken dialogue soon follow. This can be quite frustrating at times, but it doesn’t hamper the experience overall.
Director’s Commentary – The commentary is done by Director Marcus Dunstan and co-writer Patrick Melton, who give an interesting perspective on the genre. Fans of the film, as well as horror films in general will find interesting points made throughout.
Deleted Scenes – Nothing of note here, outside of the alternate ending, which almost seems like a spoof ending. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that if you own, or rent the film, definitely check out this ending after you finish watching for a quick chuckle.
A music video for “Beast” and theatrical trailer complete the extras portion of the film.
What can I say about The Collector that I haven’t already said? You kind of know what you’re getting into, as far as who wrote the story, but in the end, The Collector turned out to be better than I thought it would be; and while it’s plot is comparable to Swiss cheese, it’s still a film in which I want to see more of. Horror fans should definitely give a chance.
Liddell Entertainment presents A Fortress Features production The Collector. Directed by: Marcus Dunstan. Starring: Josh Stewart, Juan Fernandez. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD: April 10, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.