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