Like many horror fans, I considered 2009's The Collector a mediocre Saw cash-in, better than some (oh hai Captive) but still fairly unspectacular or worth another moment's thought. Mostly, I was just annoyed that anytime I spoke about William Wyler's outstanding adaptation of John Fowles' novel, I'd have to first preface it with "the 1965 kidnapping film, not the torture porny one." Think of all that wasted breath! It's enough to make a gal never even consider seeing what seemed like an extremely unnecessary sequel.
Yet here we are. Funny how that works...
Quick Plot: Following the events of The Collector, news of that film's brutal (and handy) serial kidnapper/killer has spread throughout town, rendering overprotective parents even more justifiably overprotective now that the world's smartest psychopath is a known fugitive. Poor Arkin (Josh Stewart), last seen being re-abducted, has finally escaped the clutches of Jigsaw--er, The Collector. Unfortunately for the locksmith-turned-would-be-
jewel-theif, there's a price to pay.
Arkin, you see, is the only living witness to The Collector's latest game: slaughtering the entire patronage of a happening club via an insanely cool opening scene that involves a ceiling lawn mower and man-crushing elevator.
It's seriously kickass.
The only other survivor is a young rich girl named Elena, who escaped a few killer gadgets only to end up inside The Collector's House of Leaves-esque funhouse. While there, she just might encounter the following:
-a zombified army of fellow kidnappees who have been drugged and tortured into 28 Days Later-ish states of pure psychotic fury
-lots of character actors who were on HBO dramas.
All of these things, as you might guess, are insanely amazing.
Elena's father recruits a team of bait--er, mercenaries-- to follow the trail of the elusive killer and retrieve his pixie cut little girl. Following the usual plot logic of sequels like The Descent 2, we accept the fairly ridiculous fact that Arkin would agree to join them in order to avoid a prison sentence (because rich dads can buy pardons, didn't you know?) and simply sit back to watch the highly trained elite team die terrible horrible no good very bad deaths.
Written and directed by returning filmmaker (and a Saw IV-3D writer) Marcus Dunstan, The Collection wastes none of its brief running time. We get a batch of characters put in mortal danger, and a few spunkier ones with a fighting chance to survive. The film slows down briefly to drop hints about what else entertains its masked killer (including a creepy girl-woman who somehow avoids torture by being creepy) but simply refuses to bog itself down in exposition or backstory. As a result, we're treated to a quick, scary, creative and occasionally, very funny improvement upon its standard first installment.
Between the bomb-detonated necklaces, bone-crushing elevator, security system tarantulas and pseudo-zombie army, The Collection's batch of menaces seems to come out of a bottomless Santa Claus sack filled with magic horror movie tricks
Chekhov’s Law of Hearing Aids is tragically ignored, as despite one scene of minor tension, the fact that the film's lead is indebted to a very fragile piece of technology is never really utilized
The Jury's Out
Less than 90 minutes long, I have to assume The Collection's credits sequence--in which all the speaking roles get a highlighted screencap freezing on their bloody and gruesome deaths--was inserted to pad the running time. It's a bizarre choice that takes the film's last few beats into pure comedy territory (observe one actor's credit displayed over a splat of body parts and blood). I can't tell if it's silly or brilliant.
Split up. Seriously, if you want to DIE a BRUTAL AND HORRIBLE DEATH, just split up
Having a rich dad might not prevent your boyfriend from cheating on you, but it sure comes in handy when you're kidnapped by a supergenius psychopath
There's no question that horror fans should check out The Collection. Perhaps the more complicated issue involves whether one should first see The Collector (not the Terence Stamp one; one should ALWAYS see the Terence Stamp one). Much like the Saw series, the second film does indeed depend on the story and characters from the first. While I found the first entry to be too mean-spirited and mediocre, it apparently has a strong enough fanbase. So who knows, you might like it. Regardless, I'd find it pretty hard to believe you wouldn't enjoy The Collection.