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"The Collector" is an American horror film released in 2009. The film is directed by Marcus Dunstan who wrote the SAW sequels which is not very surprising. The film runs for around an hour and half with a guidance rating of 18 because of the gore and violence. It is rated 6.2 out of 10 on IMDB. Best bits of the film have to be the non-stop suspense and the pure horror of the events. The bad bits is problem the poor plot.
The story revolves around a horror figure called the Collector. When thief Arkin (played by Josh Stewart), who works as handy man for a family finds he needs to urgently help his wife sort out the debts she owes loan sharks, he to decides to break into that particular family's home, since he already knows they are going to be away on a two week vacation. As it turns out, the night he chose is the same night a serial killer has set up traps in that same house. And as if the traps weren't bad enough, the maniac but scheming killer, lurks within the house to make life more painful for his victims. The rest of the film falls into place when those cleverly set up traps of knifes, nails, fish hooks and others, all make for the most shocking house-hostage situation.
The beginning: The opening scenes are a prequel of what happened earlier on and I think its great that the film almost seems to jumps right into the horror of the story without messing around too much. The opening credits then kick in after that, which I didn't realise was actually previews of parts of the film's story - like you get to see the house being rigged over some cool gritty effects. However after these opening credits, the main bulk of the film actually takes longer than expected to get started. It does seems to leave the viewer unsure about where the story was going and really made you feel curious regarding what point exactly the film was about to turn horror. But even if it keeps you holding on longer than you would have liked, it does get better - and when it does, it all happens at a pretty good pace. Overall the first few scenes of the film give you the feeling that something nasty is round the corner, but it does take a while for the nasty to show up.
The story: What is most disappointing about the film is the story, and I know that this kind of film doesn't need much of an intelligent story to keep it together, but I would have liked to know just a little bit more about the killer's motive, who he is, why this family, why set up traps, what is the whole idea about "collecting"? But then again, I think these answers could have been left deliberately untouched with the sequel being the place to expand on that. Either way though, I think all these questions have just made a bit of a negative impact on the film's plot and character development. In turn "The Collector" seems more focused on other things such as making certain scenes as gory as possible in order to provoke the shock and repulsion in the viewer which of course you'll find is the goal, rather than trying to create an incredible storyline to go with it, that is clever and exciting. So from this, in terms of the film's story I would just say not to expect anything smart, from this film - it's just a silly kind of film with many empty gaps.
The characters: The characters in the film are simple - just very two-dimensional. We don't get to know them hardly at all, and I think the storyline once again is to blame for that; but despite that I still think it works reasonably well because when you think about it, it wasn't completely necessary to know as much about any of the other characters/victims other than the fact that they were either members of the family - or not - so to put it another way, the characters purpose in the film were just as objects to feed the serial killer's psycho needs. And as much as we don't get to learn so much about the characters, we do learn that it really is a case of stupid people die first - and don't we all love to see that. The lead character, who seems to be the smartest of the bunch, cleverly finding ways to get out of the traps, tries to direct others through more safer routes - they don't listen and things don't go well for them. And so the only character in the entire film who we see as anyone at all, is Arkin, who plays the role as a protagonist, though he is the "bad" guy - a criminal - turned good on this occasion, which is what Hollywood movies thrive on. Basically, on the whole all other characters in the film are just pushing the plot along to provide us with the gore and let face it, the bloody death. And basically the more characters there are, the more the gore we see and in turn the collector, like all other horror figures seems to mostly always win - well he's got to otherwise there will be no hope of a sequel for him.
Horror / scares: This film is not intended to provide jump-out-of-your-seat scares, but meant to give us with the cringy moments. If you like the SAW movies and other horror films like "Nightmare on Elm Street" or "Halloween", this will be right up your street. Only thing to note like I mentioned earlier, is this film is no where near as twisted as the genius SAW movies. The scares in this film will revolve around the terror of being hunted down and the claustrophobic feel of the inability to escape from the house which itself turns out to be one big trap. The collector himself is hardly scary enough though - he doesn't have the ability to build up fear in the viewer as does characters like Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger. And I think I figured out why - It is likely to do with the fact that the Collector (although HE IS creepy), does not come across as chilling enough as the other two characters because we don't even get to even see him properly or get to know him as much (again, bad character development). I mean, Myers and Krueger have got faces that stick in your head and haunt you forever, helped by the fact that we have gotten familiar with their background stories (though I suppose it was really thanks to the sequels). On the whole though the collector doesn't do extremely badly in a horror movie world - we get to see his cold eyes or his demon souls or whatever it is, behind the mask that he wears which is tied up with behind his head. Creepy and effective, but hardly daunting enough to provide the spooks to last beyond the duration of the film.
Theme / setting: I have a thing for horror movies where the entire film is set inside a house. I think there is definitely something more haunting about a home setting than any other settings and this might be mostly due to the fact that it is going to have the effect of developing a more realistic fear than any other random setting. Although it may not necessarily be as realistic as you would have like, for example, you always have to wonder why no one thinks to switch on the lights, and even if the landlines have been disconnected, what about the use of mobile phones, or house alarms, but there is still something a bit more closer about that practically. Thematically I wouldn't say the film fits into your typical horror genre, as there is hardly much of a chilling or eerie atmosphere to it but it really just relies on the actions of the killer to provide any kind of fear. Despite that though there are certain elements about the setting that have to remain a cliché, like events only occur through the night, and it is a stormy night, there is thunder and lightening, the police are useless etc, we've seen that all before but it works so perfectly. The film has a whole new style to the usual - daunting as possible. On the whole the film is about escaping and surviving, and every scenes feels important to the viewer for the survival of the lead character.
Special effects: I think it is obvious that CGI plays a big part to the film. The majority of it of course is purely based just on the computer generated effects of terror and torture but on the whole, the special effects as well as general visual effects are just okay. It features brutal, cruel death in the form of victim pain and suffering, but not really literally by the hands of the killer - the traps are the killers. And quite literally it's about the blood and guts as we do see the guts as one of his victims poured out over the floor, which in any case does look like real guts. I mean, what else would it look like... Overall the viewer should be prepared for some real graphic horror and violence. I have to say, I have seen some films were I just felt the gore may have been a little bit put on and maybe just trying too hard, but funnily enough, in "The Collector" everything shown somehow just seems to go with the film, and that might be to do with the fact that there is nothing more this film has to offer, (like a solid story line) and so this turns out to be the key contribution of the film.
The ending: Have you ever seen a film when you feel like you have dedicated quite a bit to watching it, and then the ending really lets you down? Well, be prepared for that too, because I would personally say this film has a frustrating ending. I mean we have almost been on a journey with Arkin and I just feel more effort could have been made to provide a more clever and twisted, shocking ending, some more explanations and filling up of the gaps to finish it all up. Its almost as if you have to wait to the very last scene to get the fact that this film actually wants to preserve anymore of its potential for its sequel - this is extremely disappointing and really doesn't work in favour of the film, because if you did not like the first film what are the chances you are going to go out of your way to watch its sequel, just to get answers? You would have stopped caring by then...
The sequel is due to be released some time this year and is called "The Collection". This time Marcus Dunstan not only writes it but directs it too. This kind of gives us hope that we are going to delve in a bit more into the mind of the Collector and find out what his whole collecting idea is. The good news is that the film is to star Josh Stewart again - I do seriously think the sequel would not be the same without him as he really was the best part of the film - he did after all carry most of the film on his own. All I can say is that the sequel is going to be really great or really bad - we'll get have to wait and see about that.
I can't say this film is one you definitely need to get a copy of and watch. If you haven't seen it you are not really missing out on much, but if you watched, it's likely you would have enjoyed it anyway. If movies like Halloween, Elm street, Friday the 13th, SAW are what you normally like or don't mind watching its worth giving it a go. If you hate films like those, then just steer clear of this film as there is nothing in it that you will appreciate.
This film was an absolute joke. Its based on a handy man who plans to steal from his employer to pay off his wifes debts however when he enters the house his employer returns early and all of a sudden the collector guy springs out of no where with a black ninja style mask on. The collector then proceeds to torture people in the house and when the main character turns around from the safe he is trying to crack all of a sudden lots of traps have appeared in the house. It makes no sense what so ever.... why would the collector guy board this house up, lock the door then setup loads of home made traps. The traps are of mega poor quality and some of them are just physically incorrect and not possible. They are laughable, me and my friends were laughing at the poor quality of this film and I'm still unsure why this collector guy broke into a house then like made it his own torture den and setup a load of traps. Anyway the first trap you see activated is just weird and its over a bit to quick to understand what actually happend. The owner of the house reaches for a golf club or something near the bed but attached to the golf club is some string and apparantly it ends up attaching to the guys leg, dragging him onto the landing and hanging him over the balcony... its just physically impossible. Below is a list of some of the other poor home made traps in this film. If you have ever seen Home Alone then the traps set by Mckaulny Culkin are to be considered rocket science compared to the ones in this garbage film:
The curry sauce trap: One point during the film the main character enteres a room with a darky yellow type substance on the floor that resembles either curry sauce or mustard. This substance comes across as some kind of acid and when the character treads on it, it burns right through his shoes. A cat also enters the room and gets a bit melted onto it. What puzzles me is why hasnt it melted through the floor as its in an upstairs room.
The scissor trap: This one is horrendous. A pair of scissors attached to some string... one point in the film a girl picks the scissors up wanting to use them as a weapon and some how the scissors and string project her across the room onto a wall that has blades on it....
Knife Lampshade: This trap is actually in the film twice. Its basically a chandellier that has kitchen cutlery attached to it and when someone pulls a rope it falls on people.... this trap is triggered at the start of the film but it seems the collector re-sets it back up as it comes back later on. It doesn't actually show him re-setting up the trap and there is no kind of sounds to imply he has set it back up.
Bear traps: Bit obvious this one... a load of massive bear traps just strewn across the dining room floor.
Nails on the stairs: A bunch of nails facing upwards on the stairs... you see a few people act cautiously here but later on in the film you see the collector belting it up and down the stairs with no nails present!!!! It may be a different set of stairs but still rather shoddy.
The film is basically based on the main character trying to get out of the house with this collector guy in whos killing people. You never actually find out who the collector is really and its just a totally garbage film that leaves you laughing and bewildered at how bad it is. We even looked through the special options to see if there happened to be an option to remove the mask of the collector or somthing lol.
TERRIBLE DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS!!!
Film Only Review
"The Collector" is a film I'd heard much about after its release in America last year, written by the team responsible for the last few of the "Saw" instalments it was a film I have been waiting to see with great anticipation. Lovefilm sent me a copy of the film, so would it live up to its hype? The night before Halloween seemed the perfect time to watch it so with the lights off and the volume cranked up I settled down. So what did I think?
Arkin (Josh Stewart) is working as a handy man in a rich couples house, he knows the layout and has a good relationship with his employers especially their young daughter who reminds him of his own child. The family is supposed to be going on holiday so Arkin is given a couple of weeks off whilst the house is empty but is in somewhat of a dilemma. His wife is in debt and owes a lot of money to loan sharks and has run out of time to pay them back, the house he has been working in is owned by a jewellery broker and Arkin knows that there is an expensive gem stone in the safe. Desperate to get some money together Arkin, a former petty criminal, decides to break into the house and steal the gem stone, he has a buyer lined up for it and is an accomplished safe-cracker. His plan is risk free isn't it? What could possibly go wrong?
What Arkin is unaware of but is about to find out is that the house isn't empty after all, his friendly employers haven't gone on vacation, instead they are being held captive by a masked man with a taste for torture and pain. The house has been rigged with ingenious booby traps and Arkin finds himself in the middle of a game of cat and mouse as the attacker soon realises that a stranger has joined them. Can Arkin outwit The Collector and rescue his employers whilst avoiding all the traps the house has to offer? You'll have to watch the film and see for yourself, though be warned - it's not going to be pretty...
**Like Home Alone on Acid**
Remember the Macaulay Culkin film "Home Alone" when Kevin decides to rig his house up with booby traps to prevent the would-be thieves from ruining Christmas? "The Collector" takes this idea on board but rather than cute little cartoon-like booby traps offered in the family favourite film instead _this_ house that Arkin finds himself in offers some near-invisible razor wire, spikes on the stairs and blades imbedded in the chandeliers. Oh, not to mention the horrific looking bear traps in the living room and flesh melting acid on the bedroom floor and as you discover the traps the same time as our unlikely hero you can't help but think that these are the work of someone's _very_ troubled mind.
Lulling you into a false sense of security the film's opening twenty minutes gives you the chance to get to know the characters and when I first started to watch the film last night I wondered what the fuss was all about. As is an often-used horror opening we witness a seemingly random moment in a different victims house which sets up the character of "The Collector" but nothing is really explained and once this is over the attention switches to Arkin and his employers. Whilst the very beginning of the film attracts your attention straight away it is extremely similar to "Saw" where the usual, established opening features someone beginning a game set by Jigsaw and their attempts to free themselves out of the trap they find themselves in. "The Collector" was written by the team behind the last few Saw films and the similarities in style are apparent throughout the film but as much as the films themselves are similar in presentation the motivations at the heart of the maniacal villain are completely different.
This is a nasty film it has to be said and seems to borrow themes from many of the horror sub-genres; in some aspects the film could be likened to the recent spate of 'torture-porn' titles, "Hostel" included as the torture effects are incredibly realistic and viscerally presented on screen, there are scenes of extreme violence which are stomach churning to see and even I cringed at some of the things that happened to the victims. I enjoy horror films as a rule but even I draw the line at sadism and outright cruelty and The Collector features enough sadistic acts to satisfy the most eager splatter-fan although I have to say, this aspect really didn't appeal to me. On the other hand and what I do enjoy in horror films is a slow build up in tension and the creation of atmosphere and this is where "The Collector" excels, there are some genuinely creepy moments where Arkin is being stalked around the house by the man in the mask and this is wonderfully presented with tight camera angles and a real sense of foreboding and dread. Throw in the booby trapped rooms which have recently been used in Saw and its many sequels and there should be something for every horror fan to enjoy here and I have to say that overall I loved this film although I did watch parts of it with my fingers in my ears and with one eye shut.
Essentially the film is a fusion of Halloween, Saw and Hostel and like all recent successful horror films this is, no doubt, going to the start of a new franchise. From watching the film I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to its producers as the storyline is deliberately ambiguous, we don't learn anything about The Collector himself or why he does the things he does, this film serves merely as an introduction to the character and no doubt his back story will be explained and expanded upon in future instalments. Like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and even Jigsaw himself The Collector is sure to become the next horror icon and it was no surprise for me to learn that a sequel to this film is already in production.
**Conclusion Price and Rating**
Mixing up the horror sub-genres in The Collector proved to be a great success for me; I loved the quieter stalking, cat and mouse aspects of the film and was repulsed by the strong use of gore. The traps were inventive if not implausible and extremely effective to see in use and the acting from all was believable and compelling. I liked the premise and set up of the film, the fact that our hero was a flawed character himself made a nice twist on the usual good guy vs. bad guy scenario which is the usual horror cliché and unlike John Kramer in the Saw series the villain here has no misguided sense of morality. Now that the Saw franchise has reached its conclusion with the latest Saw 3D being the last in the series I can see The Collector taking its place and look forward to the next instalment, will this be the next big thing in horror? I think it will.
Price wise The Collector is available from Amazon for £10.99 on Blu-Ray which is £1.00 more than the DVD release, if you have a Blu-Ray player then this is the format I would recommend but if not then the DVD would still be a fine option to choose. Horror fans should see this as soon as they can and I would recommend its purchase, now that I've seen the film I am in no rush to buy it at its full retail price but once it has been reduced and offered in a sale it will be a title that I would not hesitate in buying for my collection.
The film isn't perfect so can't have a perfect five star rating from me, the fact that we don't learn much about The Collector himself yet means that there is still much to find out, I do hope that the sequel reveals some secrets and I can't wait to find them out. I did thoroughly enjoy the film though (even through my fingers) and it was the perfect choice for a pre-Halloween treat so 4/5 dooyoo stars seems reasonable to me.
Definitely recommended, thanks for reading my review.
Please note that this also appears on ciao under my username.
A film only review - currently showing at cinemas - region 2 DVD release date is yet to be advertised.
A young man named Arkin is contracted to do some repair work around the home of Victoria and Michael Chase. A relatively quiet man, he studiously goes about his work, forming a close fondness for the Chase's youngest daughter Hannah and a rather more cautious friendship with the elder daughter Jill. Workmen and contractors are working round the clock to get the house ready by the time the Chases are due to leave for their vacation and Arkin is delighted to receive a small bonus for his dependable and trustworthy services.
Arkin, however, holds a secret. Hounded by his ex-wife, and fearful for the safety of their daughter, he must raise a significant amount of cash to bail his wife out of her debt. Aware that Michael Chase is a reputable diamond dealer, he plans to return to the house after dark and rob the Chase family whilst they take their vacation. The trouble is, Arkin is not the only one with eyes on the Chase family home, as he soon realises to his cost when he becomes trapped in the house with a psychotic killer and a host of sinister and rather deadly traps...
Released in 2009, The Collector has grown something of a cult status over in the States, where horror fans are lapping up Marcus Dunstan's visual flair and macabre storytelling. The writers are not entirely new to the genre. Fans of the Saw series will recognise their names as the screen writers for episodes 4 through to 7 and their Feast trilogy has a smaller, but equally passionate following. The Collector is unlikely to astound and amaze horror fans; there isn't anything entirely new here, but there's a stylish visual quality here that lifts this way beyond its straight-to-DVD counterparts.
As Arkin works his way around the Chase family home, he quickly becomes aware that he is not alone and what follows is essentially a cat and mouse chase throughout the rooms of the house. As time wears on, the other intruder in the house has more and more time to set small but deadly traps around the house, forcing Arkin to work harder and harder to outwit his opponent. These aren't unavoidable traps like those in Saw. These are relatively small-scale, instant traps, designed to prevent exit and access, but largely with suitable and equally nasty consequences for the victim. Unsurprisingly, as the story escalates, the scale of the nastiness increases alongside it, forcing Arkin and 'others' into more and more desperate situations.
It's a very bleak film. There's something inherently nasty around nearly every corner and the way in which the family home is instantly turned from a safe haven into a prison is rapid and all-consuming. The script constantly pushes the boundaries of what a viewer might deem acceptable, the writers toying with the audience's sensibilities in a constant debate around 'no, they won't show that - will they?" Within the genre, it's becoming increasingly common for directors and writers to move closer to the edges of what they can do and there's more fun guessing where things will end up than there is actually watching the finished results. The Collector works particularly well on this level. It's not a relentless barrage of excessive, silly gore and violence. It's more a steady of stream of increasingly violent/nasty acts as events become more and more desperate for the victims in the house.
The film feels very much like Dunstan flexing his directorial muscles. He tries out a variety of very specific styles and techniques here, notably when a visitor to the house falls prey to a succession of very nasty bear traps and when another victim is used to deflect the impact of a meeting water and electricity. It's all very MTV; it's very much driven by the need to be striking and quirky. The slow motion and twisted camera work of the bear trap scene works particularly well, the audience almost feeling the biting impact of the metallic teeth as they rip through flesh and bone. The water/electricity scene is very different again, Dunstan's camera peering upwards through an apparent glass ceiling as a fish tank full of water is spilled onto the floor, a victim thrashing and burning amidst electrified water, whilst a pretty, tropical fish seems to swim casually past. It's not a subtle style, but it's a rich, colourful and varied approach and it's clear that an awful lot of thought and time has gone into how this film 'looks'.
Such time is, however, spoilt (if not often wasted) by the patchy, incoherent narrative. The simplicity of pitching Arkin (an apparent bad guy) against a surprise, far worse bad guy is not exactly lost, but the bad guy is just a bit too random to be really frightening. Labelled as some kind of 'Collector' there are attempts at a back story here, but it's difficult to grasp exactly what's going on. Apart from torturing and brutalising everyone in sight, it's not entirely clear what the whole point of The Collector is, and you can't help thinking that he has been introduced solely in the hopes that if it all plays out OK, there might be a whole new franchise here. He's an eerie, rather macabre and certainly unpleasant fellow (the simple look of his masked face works particularly well here, especially in later scenes when he peers through the window) but he seems to lack any real purpose.
The 'traps' are a little silly too. Whilst they start out fairly small and simple, they develop in complexity and skill in a way that seems rather implausible. A simple chandelier, for example, is rigged up with a succession of rather nasty blades attached to it, such that it might impale anyone it lands on. But it's not entirely clear just how much time the Collector has had to rig up these little devices, especially when more and more seem to appear throughout the film. Planks and blades seem to appear at windows without any sound of hammers banging nails through the wood and every time Arkin returns to a room, there seems to be something new and nasty lurking there, even though the Collector couldn't previously have been there in that time.
Quite what the purpose of the traps is all about is something that the script makes a vague, yet unfulfilling attempt to explain as the story and tension develop. Whichever way you decide it works out, it's all a ridiculously unnecessary waste of effort on the part of the Collector, such that the audience realises pretty quickly that it's all entirely for their benefit. This isn't necessarily a problem, of course. The traps provide a number of quite memorable scenes and the barrage of nastiness helps crank up the tension enormously. But this certainly isn't a film for anyone with a naturally questioning nature, as it's almost certain that there are no satisfying answers to the most likely questions. However complicated the writers have tried to make this; it really is a very simple kind of tale - a modern cat and mouse thriller with strong torture porn horror elements thrown in to sicken the audience along the way.
The small, intimate cast works pretty well here, with most of the action dominated by two or three individuals. Josh Stewart is an excellent choice for the lead Arkin. Stewart has one of those faces that can easily switch from kind to cruel, which becomes an essential characteristic as the plot develops. Stewart, a regular on the big US TV shows, is quite convincing here, but most importantly, he's very subtle, which helps enormously. He's just as likely to keep the audience guessing as anyone or anything else here, which is what The Collector is really all about.
The titular nasty guy could have been played by anyone but the strangely creepy Juan Fernandez probably adds more malevolence than you would first think. He's a naturally weird looking guy (check him out on www.imdb.co.uk if you don't believe me) and has been in everything from music videos to feature films. Otherwise it's down to 'little girl in danger' Hannah (cutie Karley Scott Collins on pretty good form), screaming Mom (Andrea Roth, unmemorable) and useless father (Michael Reilly Burke, another TV drama regular and also unmemorable.) Elder daughter Jill (Madeline Zima) seems a little wasted here but that aside, you'll certainly believe what they're all going through as the bad guy has his wicked little way...
For The Collector, the most obvious comparisons would be drawn to the Saw franchise. This is not only because of the very obvious inclusion of nasty traps in both films, but The Collector is made very much like a Saw film, with lots of grainy, grimy imagery and rapid, jumpy editing from one scene to the next. But the addition of The Collector at the heart of all the action sets this aside from Saw. With no obvious plan, dialogue or intellect, The Collector is a very different, almost unfulfilled character when compared to the likes of Jigsaw.
It's actually more like Friday the 13th and Halloween, notably the very obvious peril of Arkin and the young girl as the killer stalks them around the house. The script plays out very much like a "stalk and slash" film, with continual, escalating violent confrontations between Arkin and the Collector and more and more of those 'is he dead' moments. The conclusion plays out very much like these films, leaving the way open for sequels and leading us to believe that the killer is almost unstoppable (a rather unwelcome outcome, in all honesty). The strong visual torture porn elements could have come from anywhere really; too brief to have been stolen from Hostel, but largely along the same lines in all fairness.
In fairness, it's a reasonably competent mixture of all these things, blending some of the good bits but also falling foul of some of the not so good bits.
There's much to like and enjoy here. Dunstan's relatively experimental approach means that The Collector is often nice to look at, between and amongst all the slashing and screaming, that is. The bad guy is truly villainous and the traps are nasty enough to make you cringe in all the right ways. But the narrative is very poorly developed here, begging, borrowing and stealing from countless other films without really fully explaining how and why this came to be. Ultimately, The Collector is an unfulfilling exercise, emphatically ticking some boxes whilst virtually scrawling senselessly over others. Sequels and further outings seem inevitable, but future writers must focus on what makes the Collector tick if they want to prevent completely alienating the audience.