** (out of 5)
November 30, 2012
Josh Stewart as ARKIN
Emma Fitzpatrick as ELENA
Randall Archer as THE COLLECTOR
Christopher McDonald as MR. PETERS
Lee Tergesen as LUCELLO
Navi Rawat as LISA
Johanna Braddy as MISSY SOLOMON
Directed by: Marcus Dunstan
BY KEVIN CARR
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It’s not uncommon for a film to be ahead of its time. This is a defining element of cinema, in which a film transcends the current status quo and touches upon something that has yet to be popular or understood for years to come. Even in the less-respected horror genre, films can be ahead of their time. Examples of this include John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”
However, the more common event in the horror genre (and many other genres, as well) is to be behind its time. This happens when a film is trying to ride a wave that has pretty much come and gone. Two of the biggest pop trends in horror movies over the past decade were the influx of Asian horror films and torture porn. Both had relatively short lives, going from around 2003 to the end of the decade.
“The Collector” came out in 2009, right on the waning end of the torture porn craze. In fact, by the time “The Collector” was released, the genre had pretty much burned itself out. Still, this was a decent flick that found some new ground for the genre. In particular, “The Collector” featured an intriguing moral dilemma with the main character, who had to choose between his own safety and saving a family he was trying to rob.
Now, the sequel “The Collection” tries to cash in on the freshness of this earlier film. The problem is that not only has torture porn come and gone; “The Collection” also dumbs down the movie to direct-to-video quality.
This new film follows a college-aged girl named Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) who ends up being captured by the serial killer known as The Collector (Randall Archer). After slaughtering an entire rave, The Collector kidnaps Elena while Arkin (Josh Stewart ) our hero from the previous film escapes from the man’s clutches. Elena’s father tracks down Arkin and forces him to then lead a team of mercenaries into The Collector’s hideout to save the girl, facing an array of grisly mazes and booby-traps.
While there’s a certain moral dilemma that Arkin faces, the meat of his character is gone from the first story. Instead, he’s a pawn of Elena’s father, and he often just manages to slink around in the background to avoid getting killed. The mercenary team that goes into The Collector’s lair has a mid-90s action film sequel quality to them. They are trying to be badass hunters like the Colonial Marines in “Aliens,” but they come across more like the group of pirates in “Deep Rising”… only with no Treat Williams to raise their street cred.
However, the biggest sin that “The Collection” commits is that it goes too big. From the beginning, where The Collector manages to booby-trap an entire rave so he can lay waste to hundreds of dancing teens, things quickly reach a level of silliness that fits more in a comedy or spoof than an actual horror film.
What makes monstrous serial killers scary is if they can at least be somewhat believable. Even Jigsaw from the obviously influential “Saw” films had a level or reality to him. He was a man riddled with cancer who devised grisly and creative but relatively small-scale traps for his victims (at least until those movie pegged the silly meter after the Jigsaw character dies half-way through the series).
Turning a rave into a literal meat-grinder is impressive on-screen, but it’s ridiculous in concept and execution. More over, when the rescue team (which quickly becomes the worst rescue team ever assembled by perforating any remaining victims with machine gun fire) gets into The Collector’s lair, things escalate to an unbelievable level of intricacies.
Add to this silliness a swatch of characters you’re given no reason to care for, and you have a bit of a dud for a theatrical horror film. No wonder it was snuck into release at the end of November instead of getting rolled out closer to Halloween.