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November 2010

The Collector

cast: Josh Stewart, Michael Rielly Burke, Andrea Roth, Karley Scott Collins, and Daniella Alonso

director: Marcus Dunstan

87 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Icon DVD Region 2

RATING: 4/10
review by Gary McMahon

The Collector

A lot of the mainstream modern horror films seem to be going down the route of mindless torture and violence. That's okay; I'm not opposed to a dash of the red stuff. It's just that the majority of these films offer little else than the violence, and we all know that a diet of only one type of food can be bad for your health.

The Collector is the 'brainchild' of Marcus Dunston - one of the writers of the pathetic Feast films and a couple of the Saw sequels. Not a great track record regarding good quality ground-breaking horror, in my humble opinion.

Josh Stewart plays Arkin, a safe-cracking thief who works for a construction company and uses his position to scope out houses that he can rob. His girlfriend (Daniella Alonso) owes money to a loan shark, so he is desperate to get hold of some money for her and his young daughter.

So Arkin enters an empty house late one night, only to find that it isn't so empty after all. The family is being held captive by some nameless, mask-wearing psycho who has set up traps all over the inside of the house. What follows is a basic cat-and-mouse set-up, with Arkin trying to save the family, get the money out of the safe, and get back home by midnight so he can pay off the loan sharks.

It's all ludicrously over the top, and actually rather nasty-minded. The violence is protracted, and because we have no backstory for the killer (he might or might not work for a bug-extermination company, who were also at the house earlier in the day, when Arkin was fixing doors and locks, but that's all the information we get). This lack of substance detracts from the film, and all we are left with is empty tension.

We don't even care about the victims because they are two-dimensional: a rich man, his bland wife, and their young daughter. This is a shame, because The Collector could have been an entertaining film, and it does show a lot of promise in the first 40 minutes... but then it just runs down, the plot moving in a repetitive loop with nowhere left to go until the obvious, uninspired open ending.

The direction is adequate. The film looks nice - like a pretty picture - but the visuals don't really serve the story. It's just been dumped there, on the screen, with little or no real thought behind the process. I regard the first three Saw films as guilty pleasures - I know they're crap, but they're entertaining crap - but this movie is simply dull.



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