The Collector (2009)

Director: Marcus Dunstan.
Starring. Josh Stewart, Andrew Roth, Juan Fernandez, William Prael, USA. 1h 30m.

Sometimes we just have the urge to sit back and watch people get tortured, and if that’s your bag, then this debut from budding director and gore king Marcus Dunstan is something that till tantalise as it has a fairly compelling backstory and delivers some trippy Saw like setups even if there are plot holes, the overall aesthetic and creepiness of the movie makes it a neon marvel of pain and guttural cinema for a new generation after the video nasty era slowed down to nothing all that special despite special effects and cheaper methods of film making becoming more available, it feels as if cinema got rather sensible for a while. But in the rise of gore and torture horror, for me this is own of the more wild and lavish mainstream titles.

Marcus seemed to really enjoys setting up the movies characters before slowly stripping them like Pinhead on a bender, using narrow sight lines and illuminated objects he relishes in giving hints to the audience of what’s coming, trying to draw attention to what a person is contemplating, and ultimately what will finally take them out, something maximized in other splatter and torture films like Final Destination and the Saw Franchise.

Revolving around a lovable thief Arkin (Stewart) as an ex con trying his best to go straight but like an alcoholic it’s hard not to let go of this lifestyle and Arkin can’t help noticing the family safe while doing simple carpentry. On returning home his wife tells him that the family needs a lot of cash to pay off her loan shark or they are going to learn what pain is really about. So he puts on his thief cap and breaks in during the dark of night. The heat of the day fades into a dark and bright acrid pallet.

In the process of locating the safe he realises that the supposedly empty home is actually pretty active, a serial killer is in the process of torturing the family who are bound and held in strange hostage situations, but the masked psychopath is soon alerted by the presence of Arkin and his interest is piqued but instead of going in for the kill a spider and fly chase ensures.While this is all very exciting, it’s more concerning why Arkin is chosen at all to be a hero, is this really the man to save them or will he just take the money and run? Is this low life thief with his own problems really the hero this family needs?

He always takes one

Once the story is set up, something notably done in record timing and expert style. The rest of the movie could easily be summed up as Arkin venturing throughout the home and finding a new sadistic game being played out in every room. To set the scene, he enters a room filled with fish hooks and one catches one in the eyelid, ouch! Another room has a powerful toxic glue smeared on the floor and due to this urgency to avoid detection and the hands of the cruel psychotic hot on his heels, he often rushes into these amazing traps. Unlike the Saw franchise where you’re given time (albeit sometimes short) to contemplate your predicament, Arkin doesn’t always have this luxury. The films hot point and downfall is the sheer amount of “killing rooms” they attempt to squeeze in, the lithe Arkin will run into a room struggle through a trip then on exiting, there will be a fresh trap, as if the madman managed to re enter behind him and knock up another fun round, but loopholes and bloopers asides there’s a lot of pain to witness if nothing else.

The dark quiet house which is supposedly empty, is in fact busy with people dropping in and dying all night, but it’s the prefect set up, something we’re all familiar with and the thoughts of having a mad man in your own home killing you and your family slowly seems to be the suggested undercurrent of fear, those thoughts that keep you up at night.

With the lack of information on the killer, the reason why he always takes one, and only subtle hints to he is, it’s clear that this was always going to be the first of many, and while i enjoyed the movie and was excited about how this could carry on, there was always a sombre feeling that maybe this level of dark entertainment just couldn’t be maintained?

Rating 6/10

RThe Collection (2012), The Last House on the Left (1972/2009), You’re Next (2011),Vacancy (2007), Hostel (2005), The Strangers (2008), Se7en (1995), Saw (2004) Final Destination (2000), Train (2008)
L – Torture Horror

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