Where have I been? The Collection is out and I never even saw the original. I knew about it, I was familiar with the plot when it was first announced, but then it fell off the radar for some reason.
I rectified that problem tonight. In preparation to see the sequel, The Collection, I just watched The Collector. Since this movie came out in 2009, there will be spoilers. Cliffnotes version: Kind of torn. Some good stuff, some not so good stuff.
So the movie is about this guy named Arkin (even the characters are like, Really, that’s your name?) played empathetically by Josh Stewart. He’s a handyman with a troubled home life and needs to give his baby mama a bunch of money or the mob will break her legs or something. So he decides to break in to his rich clients’ home to get her the money by midnight (since all mobsters set 12 a.m. deadlines), but the problem is that a psychopath has set up boobytraps and is torturing the family already. He’s trapped in the house, and since he’s a kindhearted thief, he does his gosh-darned best to save the day. Throw in some torture-porn and cat and mouse play and you have The Collector.
Note: This film is by the creative partnership that spear-headed the last four Saw films. It was originally meant as a Saw sequel, but the producers quickly nixed the idea. I’m not sure how this would have worked. Was the Collector Jigsaw when he was alive and less insane/creepy, or was Arkin meant to be a young Jigsaw who got the booby-trap idea by surviving this ordeal? No clue. The producers made the right call.
Cons: The cold opening feels a bit off. We meet a nice, wealthy middle-aged couple, and there’s an ominous box (why are there always creepy boxes?) and then there’s a smash cut attack to let us know something bad happened. Okay… Doesn’t really resonate. Arkin finds the same box later, which lets us know it’s the same villain I guess. Then the wealthy guy pops up and it’s like halfway through the movie the first two minutes finally make sense? Not horrible, but not very tight storytelling either.
The booby-traps felt like a poor man’s Saw. ‘Nuff said.
Arkin almost flees, then sees the little girl that reminds him of his daughter, and the music cue sounded way too similar to the classic Friday the 13’th ka-ka-ma-ma theme (which is taken from the first Friday when Jason says “kill her, mommy”). Maybe it was just me, maybe it was an homage, but it completely took me out of the movie. I expected the Collector to pop up with a machete and a hockey mask. Little disappointed he didn’t.
It felt like things had to keep happening not so organically. For instance, there’s a lull, what could happen? Suddenly the older daughter returns with her boyfriend, which occupies ten minutes. Then that scene’s done and what could happen? The 911 responder arrives. It was a little this happens, then this, then this.
Pros: There are underlying themes that are fun if you look for them. There’s a whole spider and fly thing going on. The Collector is an exterminator, and he’s set the house up as a parlor that Arkin, the fly, is trapped inside. It doesn’t hit you over the head, but it’s there.
Josh Stewart is a good horror leading man. I believed him.
There’s a very meta scene where I realized that I’m watching a protagonist watch the antagonist watch people have sex. Instead of focusing on the sex, it went through the voyeuristic layers, which was a fun turn.
The movie is very well shot. It looks gorgeous.
A horror movie is meant to creep you out, and this succeeded quite well. I actually liked the characters as much as I could, and felt bad when harm befell them. Well done.
Wrapping up, I’d give the movie a 2.75 out of 4. I’m leaning toward 3, but I’m holding back for some reason. I just can’t quite justify 3 whole stars.
This has been Elliot Arthur Cross reminding you that The Collection is now in theaters. Go support horror movies people, or they’ll go away.