If Cole Abaius’s whoring didn’t convince you to see this film, maybe you’ll want to after you’re finished reading this. The Collector didn’t get a great shake in theaters, though it was originally intended to go straight to DVD anyways. Then the film disappeared from the radar before unceremoniously appearing on DVD and Blu-ray in March. Now that you know the history of this bitch, let’s talk about it.
The Collector follows Arkin, a safe cracker, who is all set to rob a house of a rather large, precious stone when he finds that a demented serial killer has already set up shop in the very same house. Arkin must figure out how to escape the booby-trapped house without being caught and gutted to pay off his wife’s debtors. Things get a little more complicated when he starts to care about those trapped in the house with him.
The film takes its time before racking up a kill count, but puts the pedal to the metal and scores a quick total of seven dead before the credits come up.
Much like the kills, the ills take their time in coming, starting off with some cuts and a battered body, but hits some high notes when the story goes full speed ahead. There are some stabs, a mouth is sewn shut, fingers are cut off, a chick gets nailed to the wall (literally), and her boyfriend has an unfortunate run in with about a dozen bear traps. There is an electrocution, some dental work, and the most violent bit of gore – a head used as a battering ram.
I was surprised when I saw some strip club boobies. I was even more surprised when Madeline Zima shows up and bares her rather awesome set of breasts. But most exciting to me is supper hottie Daniella Alonso. She’s fully clothed and only in it for a few minutes, but hot damn she is good looking.
Crime doesn’t pay. Also, when you get a chance to kill the guy who’s been trying to kill you, smash his head to mush.
Following the “hook ‘em in the first 10 minutes” rule, The Collector starts off with a shock scene, though it feels somewhat unrelated to the rest of the flick. This leads into a sweet credits sequence. I missed this in theaters, but I noticed on the Blu-ray that the film is rather grainy, some scenes much more so than others.
The film, written by Saw alumni Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton and directed by Dunstan, has been compared to Saw and justifiably so. The killer sets up rather elaborate traps which help establish the tension, but as I’ll discuss, are one of the plot holes of the film. That said, The Collector is miles better than most installments of the Jigsaw series.
In a switch up, I’ll talk about what doesn’t work first. Numero uno for me is the traps. They seem out of place. The serial killer somehow gets into the house and rigs almost every room with some rather elaborate traps. According to the timeline, he manages to do all this and capture the inhabitants in roughly four hours. He must be a busy body. In relation to the traps, I’m not sure what purpose they serve. When we catch up to our killer, he’s already captured, to his knowledge, everyone in the house. We never see how the traps are implemented or why they’re there in the first place. Some of them make sense, though going through the motions of planting twenty bear traps and making an acid glue that you spread around the floor. But, we’ll let that go. Why?
Because the film is, overall, pretty awesome. There is a real sense of tension from start to finish. There are cool shots. The movie looks great and it’s well executed. I can’t remember a film that worked this well and actually had me on edge. The score is awesome and heightens the experience, the soundtrack is baller, and the sound is creepy. This is a great thriller that almost deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Halloween in terms of excellence. Almost.
What was missing? Closure. Like virtually all modern horror films, rather than wrapping it up and writing a sequel a few years later, Dunstan and Melton opt for the “shocking” cliff hanger, surprise ending. There is no true resolution to the plot. Things are left hanging. Rather than wrapping up the first installment, it just gets ready to launch into The Collector 2, which is currently being scripted. I think perhaps these two Saw fellows have spent too much time with that franchise and forgot how regular movies are supposed to work. Though, there could be a case to be made that this is a more effective and realistic ending. Though I won’t buy it. Because I’m unsatisfied. The Collector himself from start to almost finished is definitely just a regular guy. Then he takes on almost super-human qualities as he effortlessly evades capture, tracks our hero down, executes some ninja moves, and does all sorts things that a severely injured man shouldn’t be able to do.
Though the ending falls flat for me, it didn’t fall flat enough to kill the whole mood. The film is 97% awesome and 3% disappointing. Still a pretty good mix and worth watching. I’m definitely interested in a sequel, though instead of turning this into a Saw copy in terms of franchising out six congruent sequels, this series should focus on telling complete stories and if sequels are merited, just do them episodically.
Anyways, check it out. The extras on the disc include a joke alternate ending, a commentary, and some other stuff that you probably won’t watch.