Home Alone plus The A-Team to the power of Saw =

THE COLLECTION

2 Stars  2012/18/79m

Director/Writer: Marcus Dunstan / Writer: Patrick Melton / Cast: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzgerald, Lee Tergesen, Christopher McDonald, Shannon Kane, Andre Royo, Tim Griffin, Erin Way, Randall Archer.

Body Count: 100+


Giving some credence to the notion that if your story lacks, well, story, throw more at it. In the action genre, that’s explosions, in horror, it’s body count. In torture porn, it’s gore.

Proving that Saw contributors Dunstan and Melton are ponies of the one-trick variety, The Collection, follow up to home invasion slasher flick The Collector, is little more than a third-rate Jigsaw wannabe, with a serial killer so incredibly lucky and with so much time on his hands, he’s amassed a body count well into triple figures.

The [PAL] running time of the film is 79 minutes, but the film ends more or less at 70, giving way to the lard-pumped NINE MINUTE credits, a sure sign that imagination stocks had run dry a lot earlier.

At the end of the inventive but sadistic first one, reluctant hero Arkin (Stewart) was boxed up by the titular killer, who always kickstarts his new murderthon with the placement of a victim from his previous spree. In this case, thoroughly undeveloped teenage girl Elena is the one to open the box at a secret rave, which in turn sets off a massive lawnmower-esque device that liquefies the entire dancefloor.

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Other partygoers are trapped and slowly crushed to death by a giant press, until Arkin makes his escape and The Collector chooses Elena to be his next boxee. Attention-grabbing as this opening may be, it seems needlessly cruel and about five times as sadistic as the entire Saw body-count-ography and the first film combined. I considered calling it a day there and then.

Elena’s rich dad hires a group of neo-bounty hunters to get his little girl back and they, in turn, blackmail Arkin into helping them find the collector’s lair; your common or garden abandoned hotel with full electrical support and nobody to bother it.

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Naturally the whole place is rigged with all manner of deadly traps (far beyond the capabilities of an army of builders, let alone one guy on his own) and once in they die in grisly ways: One is skewered vertically, another gets a giant hook in the mouth, while there are knifings, exploding heads, and automated giant-bear trap style surprises for various other schmucks, none of whom are given the slightest bit of character to make us care about what vile thing happens to them. While teenage victims in slasher films are hardly the type you’d hang out with, some of the characters here aren’t even afforded names that are spoken audibly enough to know who they are were.

Strangely, as I typed this up, Jaws 2 was whirring in the background. While gore and triple-figure body counts are in absentia, I actually gave a crap about the group of teenage sailors who the shark is hellbent on chomping in the final third of the film: Their group-concern for one another makes for a big chunk of what’s missing in films like The Collection, where all but the most ‘precious’ cast members are actively devalued and made expendable to the point of the audience wanting them to die violently. You read how people ‘deserve to die’ on any number of IMDb messageboards.

I'd rather hang out with the Jaws 2 kids any day

I’d rather hang out with the Jaws 2 kids any day

Films like The Collection make me question where my ‘line’ is. At what point does horror go from being fun to being disturbing? The perception that gore = horror is one taken too literally by a lot of filmmakers and fans; there’s very little suspense or unpredictability in The Collection. Thus, it plays like an extended trailer for How to Kill People Grotesquely and little else.

I also couldn’t decide if I even wanted to include The Collection as a slasher flick. In the end, it has a masked killer and a girl on the run so enough boxes are ticked, though this one is far more like its Saw cousins than the first movie, which had a more formulaic one-by-one approach.

Essentially, it’s just insubstantial. There’s nothing new to offer beyond more grim ways to skewer folk, and several of those had been seen before in other films – The Collection is a collection of other peoples ideas, it would seem. Tellingly, it made only about 60% of its production budget back during its theatrical run, possibly serving as an answer to: “Do people want nothing but gore?” Sure, later Final Destination outings might’ve been high-blood, low-empathy affairs, but knowing when to go into with your tongue in your cheek is an attribute those had that this sorrowfully lacks.

Blurbs-of-interest: Chris McDonald was in Playroom; Lee Tergesen was in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. It should surprise nobody that Dunstan and Melton wrote the script for Piranha 3DD – another crap film that stopped after 70 minutes for a month-long credit sequence.

4 comments

  • And I heard (granted, months ago) that they’re trying to make a third one called The Collected.

  • This was never a slasher film on my book. I like to categorize this as Death Porn: Just a disappointing kill-a-thon with lots of pointless kills and barely any real story. (It’s THE Final Destination all over again…)

  • A third one is likely to happen I guess… the only thing worse than more depressing mass-teenicide is not getting a proper ending to the saga.

  • Aside from the obvious, I don’t really get why people lump this in with the Saw films. Without knowing that Dunstan and whatshisface were involved with those shitty Saw sequels, there isn’t much of a link here. This doesn’t strike me as torture porn. Sure, there are traps. But…Saw didn’t invent the very idea of traps. And the stuff that is rigged up in these films is very unlike the idiotic “tests” in the Saw franchise. It’s a completely different setup, motive, villain, and execution. And unlike every Saw film ever, this series has a decent protagonist.

    The first one was a pretty intense and atmospheric twist on home invasion horror, not something I’m usually into since it tends to be “group of kids torture a hapless idiot family who accidentally shoots their friend and then gives up”. But the twist was that we don’t follow the hapless idiot family. We get a better character, one who kind of starts out in a different genre altogether (for all Arkin knows, he’s in a crime drama where he’s trying to get his life together). That’s what made it interesting. He wasn’t just some dopey twerp trapped in his own house, doomed to be a generic horror movie victim. That fight scene in the kitchen was one of the best goddamn things I’ve seen in a new horror movie in years. After a decade of worthless protagonists, it’s so satisfying to follow someone who actually has some fight and ingenuity in them. And also who will kick a motherfucker down a flight of stairs.

    The Collection is to that film what Aliens was to Alien. It replaced the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere and the intensity of the slow burn with bigger locations, cartoony soldiers, a huge body count and lots of action. I prefer the first film in terms of execution, but I thought this one was pretty enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the ending. They give you the classic, generic horror movie ending where he finds the mask and the camera zooms out and it’s all DUN DUN DUN. But then they invert that, and the film continues with an incredibly satisfying epilogue. I’m normally hyper-critical of everything, especially in the horror genre. But The Collection was just a lot more fun than most of the stuff I see every day. And Josh Stewart as Arkin is a much better actor and stronger character than I’ve seen in an original horror film in a long time.

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