Sunday, 14 April 2013

Capturing Your Attention: The Collection Hits Home Video

Because I am shamefully slow at doing any sort of write up, I missed the theatrical window on this one, but just in time for home video, here is my two cents on Marcus Dunstan's blood-drenched horror/thriller sequel, The Collection.

Following on from 2009's pleasant surprise, The Collector, The Collection follows a masked serial killer who puts people through elaborate traps that kill the victims in all manner of gore-soaked ways, and keeps one victim alive and stuffed in a box (his 'collection'). Our protagonist from the first film, Arkin, returns, and is blackmailed to take on a quest to rescue a girl from the trap-laden lair of The Collector.

Good to see the gimp from Pulp Fiction working again.

There is a bit more to the film than that, such as the big first act sequence in a nightclub where everyone is slaughtered (er... spoiler-ish?), but essentially, the film is the standard infiltrate the villain's hideout to save the girl. Coming from the writers of several Saw films, you know to expect the typical Rube Goldberg-style traps and over-the-top gore, and they deliver these in solid doses. Unfortunately, this is pretty much all they deliver.

This film's predecessor, The Collector, was a small scale but high concept idea executed fantastically. Taking a violent premise of a burglar getting caught up in a serial killer's trap, but injecting it with claustrophobia and tension, the film exceeded my expectations and has earned a decent reputation with most folk. Sadly, all the good things about the first film, like its intimacy, its straightforwardness, and even the realism of the villain, all get lost in the sequel's attempts to be bigger and bloodier. Not to mention the moments that seem just bat-shit insane (one word: zombies).

Not badly acted, not badly shot, not badly most things, the film just kind of coasts along, hitting all the story points beat by beat, with disposable characters dispatched predictably. It's a good thing the Collector films are marketed as 'from the makers of Saw', because, really, if that is what draws you to the film, it is what will hook you in. For your average movie goer, or those who want more than just an over-abundance of SFX (I'm purposely avoiding the 'torture porn' phrase, because though it sticks to the original intention of the phrase, it doesn't fit the mutation that those words now conjure), the film is just by the numbers.

It has some lovely imagery and set pieces, it picks up towards the final act, Charlie Clouser again provides a brilliant score, and I did find myself rooting for certain characters towards the end, but all in all, it has a massive been-there-done-that vibe to it. All the while I was viewing it, I just couldn't shake how much it reminded me of Saw II, with a similar setting of an ensemble cast trapped in a death house, trying to escape the madman and his whacky implements. It really does seem like they are trying to take over the Saw mantle with these films, and oddly enough, this film will only be stronger if they do. As an individual film, The Collection is very A-typical, but if presented as part of a (minimum) three film series, it becomes an intricate part of a bigger picture.

I know the filmmakers have plans for a sequel, but this installment fell flat at the box office, so we will have to wait and see if the story will be furthered. As it stands now, this film really only serves to satisfy those who want more of the Saw type evisceration. For anyone else, I'd recommend going back to the first film.

What do you make of this?

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