Monday, August 17, 2009

The Collector (2009, Marcus Dunstan)

A sucker for home invasion thrillers (Bryan Bertino's The Strangers had me rapt last summer), I frolicked off to the movies for The Collector quite willingly; turns out, it was created by a couple of alumni from the Saw series (a series that I can't stop watching, even as I objectively acknowledge its awfulness), and I was sad to discover that this particular "random-Saw-scribe-side-project", a tiny subgenre that's given us agreeable flicks like Dead Silence and Death Sentence, appeared to be a Saw film deleted from the more popular series' story arc.

Stylish, loud, and scored quite frequently by the dulling hum of bad techno, The Collector isn't all bad. There's a sublimely creepy prologue, and even a few genuine edge-of-the-seat moments. Problem is the creators' reliance on tired torture-porn gags to sell the material - when blue-collar Arkin (Josh Stewart, terrifically acting circles around the material) breaks into a client's house to rob them (don't worry, the proceeds keep his wife and daughter from gettin' dead at the hands of some nasty loan sharks), he encounters.... a mysterious stranger who's violently booby-trapped everything, and has the heads of household strapped to mysterious torture contraptions. Way to think outside the box, gentlemen.

Pretty soon the film collapses into a parade of garish, outlandish violence - ironically, its target audience is desensitized to this sort of thing, having seen the last few Saw movies - strung together by a pretty threadbare plot. Very little is explained, which I suppose is for the better, because a "putting the puzzle together" epilogue would have simply dragged out the proceedings further. The Collector is quick and nasty, which sounds perfect for a horror flick, but turns tiresome pretty quickly. Once the blood starts squirting, all semblance of atmosphere is dashed (upon a bed of rusty bear traps), and the flick fails to deliver on the promise of its opening moments. (I can't tell if a scene that involves a quick end to a premarital-sex encounter of over-the-top eroticism is meant to be hilariously self-aware or not, but if it is, thanks for the laughs.)

I dunno. This movie hooked me from the start, and lost me somewhere in the rising action. I suppose I should applaud what it does right - but all I can think about is the pitch session.

"And the villain turns out to be.... THE GIMP FROM PULP FICTION. Priceless, right?"
"That's TERRIFIC! What's his motivation?"
"Hell if I know. LET'S CHOP A KITTY IN HALF."

Meh. Not totally for me.

Rating: **1/2 (out of five)

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