I’d been pleasantly surprised by The Collector. Given its connections to Saw, and the fact that it had initially been conceived as a possible Saw prequel, I expected The Collector to be another exercise in torture-porn banality. Instead, it turned out to be rather fun and inventive, the kinda movie I wish Saw had been, with a killer intent on using creative ways to dispatch—not torture—his victims. The Collection gives us more of the same as it takes us into the Collector’s lair.
The first movie introduced us to down-on-his-luck, once-a-thief Arkin (no first name?), played by Josh Stewart, who is convinced to rob a house which, it turns out, has been turned into a killzone by The Collector. By the end of the movie, Arkin, the only survivor, is taken by The Collector (uh…spoilers for the first movie).
In The Collection, we meet Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) who, after being ditched by her boyfriend, goes to some underground club (that requires a password to get in, no less—the password is “Nevermore”, pass it around). The club, however, is targeted by the Collector and his underground club-sized thresher.
A movie like The Collection—and its predecessor—requires a strong ability to suspend ones disbelief when it comes to the killer’s mechanized killdgets (get it, it’s like “kill” and “gadgets” put together, ‘cause they’re gadgets that kill, right, get it?). I mean, seriously, how did he set all this up? Did he do it himself, the weekend before, hoping no one would notice? But, whatever, it’s pretty fun stuff. And, once in his lair, the traps and their complexity are more believable. He woulda had years to work on those.
Aaaaanyway, turns out the Collector has brought one of his trusty trunks and this one is filled with Arkin. Elena accidentally helps Arkin escape but is herself captured, taking Arkin’s place. It seems that, between the first and second movie, Arkin spent a fair amount of time in the Collector’s lair and is asked to accompany a team of mercs sent to rescue Elena.
What follows is an exploration of the Collector’s humble abode and the titular collection therein. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge, honestly, with narcotic-fueled zombies, random people pinned to random walls for unknown random reasons, dogs, bugs in jars, a museum of (badly) reconstituted bodies, and traps, of course, lots and lots of traps. Besides the thresher, though, none of the traps were especially memorable. The Collector had me laughing out loud a few times, amused by the killer’s (and writer’s and director’s) sheer creativity, but the sequel fails to take things to the next level. It all feels a tad ho-hum and been-here, seen-that.
We also don’t learn much about the Collector’s motivations. I’m still not exactly clear on what, exactly is the nature of his collection. There is mention, by his victims, of being “good enough,” presumably for the collection, but is this really something they want? Is being part of the collection a good thing? There’re also intimations that his collection is tied, somehow, to entomology, but, with the exception of those aforementioned bugs in jars, there is little tying one with the other—unless those reconstituted bodies were meant to be made to look like insects . . . ?
Overall, though, it’s a fun watch with a sympathetic hero in Arkin, and Elena makes for an excellent Final Girl. If you enjoyed The Collector, you’re sure to enjoy The Collection, but you might also be a tad disappointed as the sequel doesn’t add much to the original.
If you’re looking for Saw-lite, meaning a similar concept without the torture, this one’s worth a try.
PS: I still believe that, in the end, it should’ve been revealed that the Collector was none other than a grown-up Kevin McCallister.