I decided to give The Collection, released in 2012, a watch because the concept behind it sounded both interesting and different. While most horror films feature people desperately trying to escape the bad guy, this film focuses on someone going back to confront him. Original, right? Unfortunately, in many ways, the concept of the film is where its strengths end.
The film, directed by Marcus Dunstan, starts promisingly enough with a montage of newscasts about a mass murderer, “The Collector,” committing a series of heinous acts, always taking one living victim with him from the scenes of his crimes. From there it jumps to Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick,) whose plans with her boyfriend have suddenly fallen through. Although she plans to just stay home, her friends convince her to go to a party that can only be entered in a dark alley, after uttering a secret password. It’s a bad move on her part, to say the least, and not just because of the party’s location. Not only does she see her boyfriend cheating on her at this party, The Collector is also in attendance and the party venue is rigged with a series of blade-flying and body-crushing traps that seem to kill off everyone but Elena, whom he grabs, while releasing Arkin (Josh Stewart).
Arkin’s relief at survival doesn’t last long, however. First, he receives a note from The Collector that his family will be attacked, and next he is ordered by Lucello (Lee Tergesen,) an employee of Elena’s father, and his gun-wielding, lawless crew to assist in saving her, despite no personal motivation on his own part to do so. And thanks to an ingenious system of knife cuts carved on his arm, Arkin knows exactly where The Collector is. Why this location wasn’t told to the police is unclear, but nevertheless, he leads Lucello and his gang there.
Once at the abandoned complex though, no one in Lucello’s crew pays any attention to Arkin’s repeated warnings about the brutality of The Collector and as the film progresses, they are picked off one by one. And as they die, we get to watch alternating scenes of Elena trying to escape, and Lucello and Arkin trying to find her. Only when Arkin manages to get the attention of some people outside through a broken window, does there seem to be any hope of survival for any of them.
Watching people stumble around The Collector’s booby-trapped complex may not necessarily sound like the most exciting of plots, but I will say that The Collection held my attention. It may be one of the bloodiest horror films I’ve seen and there is no shortage of creativity in the torture and deaths inflicted on victims by The Collector, who seems to have a particular talent and fondness for knives. One scene of a victim at the complex getting caught in a blade-filled metal box was truly memorable.
With that said, I also watched it partially in a state of confusion. Much like the characters wandering aimlessly through the complex’s corridors with no real clue where they were going, I kind of felt the same – not sure which direction the movie was heading, or why I was watching. There are some half-hearted attempts at character and plot development but none of them seem to carry all the way through. As the film’s title suggest, The Collector – hidden behind a mask the entire movie – is into collecting. Glass cases holding torsos and other body parts, as well as the display of many creepy insects, can attest to this. The purpose behind the “collection” or what exactly The Collector is looking for though in his subjects is never really revealed. We find out at the end that he is an entomologist, but that explains nothing about his interest in butchering humans.
The situation is the same with the characters. Lucello’s determination to save Elena, even if it means his death, is truly touching. But, besides a brief flashback of him saving Elena from a burning car, there isn’t much explanation of who he is or what kind of relationship they have, other than her father being his employer. Likewise, Arkin is one of the rare, released victims, but his prior experiences in the hands of The Collector, why he was released, or pretty much anything about him other than that he is married and a twice-convicted thief is left totally to the viewer’s imagination.
The acting is decent enough and I could definitely appreciate some of the film’s creativity, but as a viewer, I would have liked a little less blood and gore and a little more context to tie the whole story together. A balance between the two could have made this a great horror film, as it is though; it merely falls into the mediocre range.
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