The typical horror/slasher movie has been broken down to a science for some years now. Take a handsome man or his misunderstood, nerdy counterpart, pair them with a gorgeous damsel in distress who trips and falls at the most inconvenient times, and make sure they barely survive a bloodthirsty maniac who murders all of their friends. I am happy to say that this template might actually be beginning to deteriorate.
The Collection is the newly-released sequel to the 2009 film, The Collector. Both are written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, the writers of Saw IV, V, and VI, but don’t let their street credit fool you, the two are making strides in creating a much smarter and likeable horror movie.
The Collector followed ex-thief Arkin O’Brien (Josh Stewart) as he planned for one last job breaking into his new employer’s cozy, country residence in order to repay a debt to his ex-wife. While inside, he quickly finds out that he is pulling off this heist at the same time the serial killer known as “The Collector,” a masked man who has the residential family held hostage in the basement.
The motive of this new breed of killer is to go to different houses, capture the residents, torture them a bit, then see if they have what it takes to survive escaping the house that he has rigged with deadly traps. From each test site, he takes one person who he “likes” the most and shuts them in a trunk. The trunk is then placed somewhere in the next test site as bait. That way when someone finds and unlocks it, the person inside becomes loud and possibly screams, attracting his attention. Not to mention, he is called “The Collector,” so taking someone not only serves as bait, but they are added to his “collection.”
The Collection picks up where its predecessor left off with Arkin captured by “The Collector” and placed in the “bait trunk.” This time, “The Collector” doesn’t just want a few family members in a small house, but an entire rave full of unsuspecting young adults. Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) and her friends decide to go to this party after her boyfriend bails on her. During a few scenes of teen partying, with some of the better electronic music I’ve heard, “The Collector” is shown in the rafters waiting to unleash the few devices he’s brought to wipe out the entire crowd.
Those who get away from the death saw that demolishes the dance floor are caged in a room with a closing ceiling, squishing the remaining survivors. In the madness, Elena manages to avoid certain death, finding the trunk and releasing Arkin, who escapes out a window, but before she gets away, she is taken by “The Collector.”
The rest of the film is dedicated to Elena’s caretaker Lucello (Lee Tergesen, Oz), Arkin, and a team of hired mercenaries entering “The Collector’s” hideout to rescue Elena. Unfortunately for Arkin, he is the only person who has survived “The Collector’s” grasp, and he knows the location of the lair. This is a point where Arkin’s intelligence is displayed quite well, because while he was locked in the trunk riding in “The Collector’s” van, he cut his arm every time they went a certain distance or took turns. Resourcefulness and quick thinking are characteristics shared by both Arkin and Elena, already making them more fun to watch than victims of other horror flicks.
Knowing that people who had a hand in creating Saw also created this series might be an automatic turn-off to a lot of people, however, they only took elements from those movies that make this one better. The seamless transitions keep the timing at a perfectly steady pace and always switch from following Arkin to Elena at the best times. The run-down hotel that serves as “The Collector’s” home, and the changes in lighting are eerily familiar to the house from Saw II.
Following the traps before and after they go off also demonstrates some masterful camera use. An example of this is in the beginning when Elena first releases Arkin from the bait trunk, and a crossbow fires a bolt over their heads. The camera travels into the wall, shows the crossbow, and then continues to fly around the rave pointing out the other mounted traps.
Many parts of this movie are very well-planned, and the smarts of Arkin, Elena, and “The Collector” himself never cease to shine. In one of the rooms, a hoard of captives is unleashed on Arkin and the mercenaries, who are people that “The Collector” has drugged, cut out their tongue, and stapled a mask to their face. This seems like a mindless idea, but when you think about the fact that the group wastes the majority of their ammo here on essentially zombies, “The Collector” already eliminates the use of guns against him.
Stewart is no doubt the acting centerpiece of the film with meaningful dialogue that surpasses the trademark horror lines, “Run!” and “Are you alright?” Keep your eyes on Emma Fitzpatrick in the future though, because her role as Elena is nothing short of brilliant, and she successfully avoids being pigeonholed as the damsel in distress. She manages to get herself out of the bait trunk at one point with only her bra strap. That’s pretty impressive.
Horror fans are sure to enjoy this intelligent spin on the classic slasher. The acts of resourceful thinking, constant suspense, better-than-average acting, and pretty cool traps really set this movie apart from the average horror movie. Obviously, there is no lack of blood and gore, and there are definitely parts that will impress the audience with the creativity spun into this sequel. Six out of 10.