The Collector DVD review

The Collector is directorial debut of Marcus Dunstan, the writer of several Saw movies. But is it a satisfying horror film, or just pointless? Here’s Dave’s DVD review…

The Collector starts out as a conventional thriller in which Arkin, a security system installer with debts and an estranged wife, plans a heist on the property he had just secured only to find that there is somebody else there, with an agenda of his own. From this point on, it’s a cross between Saw and Home Alone as Arkin plays a game of cat and mouse with the vicious, mute Collector and running foul of his many, ingenious and improbable traps.

Having installed a state-of-the-art security system to the family of Michael Chase, broker and married man, and his self-obsessed wife, wayward teenage daughter and far too friendly little daughter, Arkin is on his way to a meeting with an unsavoury fellow, having decided that the safe of the Family Chase is an ideal target for their burglary. They plan to carry out their crime when the family are away on holiday, leaving very little evidence behind as (obviously) Arkin knows all the ways into and out of the property.

Arriving in the dead of night, things quickly go wrong, as Arkin enters the property only to find someone else has been there, added a variety of security features designed to prevent people leaving, and littered every hallway, room and surface with traps. These range from the run of the mill bear trap to the far more elaborate (and potentially comical) chandelier lined with knives.

You see, The Collector is a man who goes around collecting people. It’s not clear why he does this, but he’s been doing it for a while and, if he gets away with it, will probably continue doing it for as long as he’s capable. He’s a fellow who wears a leather mask, remains completely mute and sets up traps that would make Wile E Coyote green with envy. Heaven forbid anybody (like Arkin) stumbles blindly into these traps, as he’s bound to end up in plenty of pain.

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Arkin must play a dangerous game as he tries to outwit The Collector without losing his own life. However, no matter where he turns, death awaits.

The Collector is a messy film that is littered with gory scenes and violent moments, yet fails to merge them with the rest of the script into a single, quality product. It’s filled with many clichés from the genre: thunder and lightning, a mute killer that doesn’t seem to be vulnerable to anything, a little girl who must be saved, a franchise-making finale and some ridiculously over-the-top set pieces that are designed simply to show how bloody everything can be.

Whilst the premise and script may be a bit of a mess, the cinematography is actually pretty darned good. The layout of the house allows for some disorienting shots, and the lightning allows for some eerie shadows that reveal the traps and gore that awaits. 

However, as if thunder and lightning weren’t enough, the cliché of slow-motion to highlight key moments is overused to the point of saturation. There’s only so many times that you can see someone fall down slowly, advance slowly or light a cigarette slowly.  Still, on the subject of shots, the viciousness of the varied traps cannot be denied as skin is torn, bodies damaged and limbs severed. It makes for some grim viewing, with a few moments actually being quite stomach churning.

It’s a film of two parts, really. First off, we’ve got some fantastically graphical moments of gore brought about by some clever Saw-esque torture devices. However, the film is tempered by a rather pedestrian script, where a number of moments that should have been riddled with suspense are ruined by sloppy signposting. 

It’s a real shame that the film can’t quite achieve that same feeling that I got when I saw the first Saw or Funny Games. Perhaps it’s time for filmmakers to try something entirely different.

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The commentary features the director and writer, along with a handful of crew, talking in an upbeat fashion about the making of the film, even going so far as to analyse the elements and influences of the film. You can’t help but feel that they are seeing something deeper than I did.

There’s also an alternate ending that features Arkin running away from the house. It’s actually a really poor end to the film and it’s a good thing that they chose to replace it with the featured end.

Two deleted scenes, one featuring a conversation between a sheriff and Arkin, the other offering a monologue from Roy are included. They do offer something in the way of character development, but neither really does anything for the film and they’re better off deleted.

There’s also a music video for Beast and a trailer for the upcoming Let Me In (the American version of Let The Right One In.)

The ideal audience for The Collector are those looking for a Friday night gross-out movie or teenagers who want to show how hardcore they are with gory horror. It’s definitely a film where you’re more likely to remember the horror than the characters.

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3 stars

The Collector will be released on October 18th and can be pre-ordered from the Den Of Geek Store.


3 out of 5