I had low expectations for The Collector. I knew it had been directed by Marcus Dunstan and written by Dunstan and Patrick Melton, two guys who’d previously worked on a few of the Saw sequels. I’d also heard that The Collector had initially been written as a possible Saw prequel, and that much of the horror was torture-driven. I’m not a fan of torture horror, I’m not a fan of the Saw series, and so I didn’t expect to be a fan—or even enjoy—The Collector.
So imagine my surprise . . .
The Collector is actually a smartly-crafted Slasher that offers up some genuinely suspenseful sequences and a healthy dose of fun. Yes, it does include a few scenes of torture, but these are used mostly to punctuate the violence rather than as its primary source. Most of the kills are quick and sudden and entertainingly creative—even if they do require a rather hefty suspension of disbelief.
See, The Collector follows Arkin, ably played by a sleepy-eyed Josh Stewart. The mother of Arkin’s child is indebted to some nasty people, and so Arkin, a current handyman and former thief, undertakes to rob a client’s home. Upon breaking in, however, he discovers that his intended victims have been taken captive by a masked nutjob with a penchant for booby-traps.
It’s these traps that tend to strain credulity. There is absolutely no way the killer could ever have set up such devices—some of which are quite elaborate—without being detected. It also leads one to wonder exactly why he’s turned the home into a killzone. He’s already got the wife and husband immobilized, so is he expecting someone to interrupt him? Sure, the daughter shows up later, but one or two traps would have sufficed to stop a freakin’ teen, whereas he’s filled the damn house with deadly toys.
It smacks of including these devices not for story or drama but because the writers thought they were cool—something I hated about the Saw movies. But here the devices aren’t taken so seriously. The Collector doesn’t have any of that high-mindedness that makes Jigsaw such an insufferably irritating villain. The Collector is your typical silent, masked killer whose motive is described as simply, “collecting people.” Why and in what way isn’t made clear, but the recent sequel, The Collection, might shed some light on the killer’s hobby.
And, honestly, though ridiculous, the traps are pretty fun. It’s as though the Collector went to the Acme school of serial murder, learning the art of killing from Wyle E Coyote and Daffy Duck. He doesn’t just use one bear trap. No. He fills a whole room with them so that, when someone finally stumbles into said room, the hapless fella gets chomped by about half a dozen metal maws.
Given his penchant for festooning his hunting ground with traps, I like to think that the Collector is actually Kevin McAllister of Home Alone all grown up, twisted by a criminally neglectful family and constant need to protect himself via violent inventions. In fact, I would love it if, later in the series, once the Collector’s face is revealed, the filmmakers recruited Macaulay Culkin to play the killer (that’s if it’s not too late, of course; I haven’t seen The Collection yet).
Oh, that would be too great.
Length: 90 min