Director: Marcus Dunstan Release Date: 25/06/10 Link:IMDB There’s usually a point in any house-bound, killer(s)-on-the-loose movie during which some secondary character enters the house for some arbitrary reason (say, for example, to rob it) and either saves the day or gets brutally murdered. In The Collector this character, who might ordinarily have been relegated to deus ex machina status, or simply served to beef up the body count, is treated as the main protagonist; so when ex-con Arkin (Josh Stewart) breaks into a supposedly empty house during the midnight hour in order to rob it, he instead chances upon a crazed killer who apparently has been busily hacking the owners to bits, rigging the house with deadly traps and hunting for the youngest daughter (whose hiding skills rival those of Newt from Aliens). Good idea, but the actual film is so bad, it’s like it was designed as a deliberate attempt to prove right every stupid-ass thing that’s ever been said about modern horror films. Watching it, you’d almost believe that modern horror really has abandoned storytelling altogether in favour of pointless blood and gore. It’s as if the writers heard the phrase “torture-porn”, and instead of dismissing it for the stupid, childish, sensationalist buzzword (phrase?) it is, thought: “oh, cool, let’s make one of those!” Either that or it was intended to be a satire on the very idea, in which case it’s been handled with all the satirical flair of a Scary Movie, or Showgirls. I think what annoys me most is that Arkin is the only character with a story – not an overly original or comprehensive one, just your typical “estranged father driven to crime in order to pay child support” schtick, but at least it’s something. The other victims are barely even bare-bones, and the crazy masked killer is just that: a crazy masked killer. Nothing more, nothing less. Whereas I’ve seen that work in other movies – Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers comes to mind – here it’s completely counter-intuitive, mainly because there’s nothing interesting about him. He’s not really a character at all, he’s just a blank vessel for gratuitous torture and bloodshed*. For me, the most telling moment came right after the movie, when a friend asked me what the guy actually collected and I had to really think before I could provide the answer. The fact that I had to dig for information that should have been fresh in my mind just underlines the fact that I didn’t (still don’t) care. Both writers – for the sake of filling your head with useless information, they’re called Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan (the latter of whom also directed) – co-wrote Saws IV, V and VI, which is odd because the Saw movies are famous for their plot twists; The Collector doesn’t have a plot to twist. Arkin has a decent enough back-story, true, but once he enters that house the plot stalls completely in favour of set-pieces in which Arkin tries to save a family member. He usually fails, which after a while becomes kind of funny, as if you’re watching a series of cartoons in which the punch line is always the same. Bugs Bunny outsmarts Elmer Fudd. The Brain fails to take over the world, but his resolve remains strong. Sylvester and Wile E. Coyote both go hungry. And those under Arkin’s care get horribly murdered. I really hope there’s not a sequel (apart from anything else, why does everything these days have to result in a goddamn franchise?), but if there is I’d be happy for it to go the way of Freddy’s Dead or Bride of Chucky and start actively taking the piss out of itself. Half the work is already done. The Collector is clumsy, stupid and, if watched with as much premeditated irony as you can muster, halfway enjoyable. And the answer is: people. He collects people. Photobucket *I want to make this absolutely clear – I fucking love gratuitous torture and bloodshed. I’m one of the few people out there who’s willing to defend both Hostel movies and most of the Saws. But it only works if it’s got story and context, and The Collector has neither.