Its strange how our cultures differ so dramatically, back in 2009 when The Collector was released in the US it became somewhat of a success. A low budget offering from Saw writer Marcus Dunstan, everyone was talking about The Collector and it was almost viewed as being the new Saw, with everyone in the knowledge that the Saw series was coming to an end. Across the world however The Collector was not even greeted with as much as a smile, the movie ending up a budget title less than 6 months from it’s UK DVD release.
I should begin by saying that The Collector does bear all the Hallmarks of the Saw movies, but in some ways it goes a step further, so if you have issues with the Saw films, you really need to look no further into this, The Collector will push the boundaries further than Saw ever did.
Arkin (Josh Stewart) is a handyman hired to carry out work on a country estate, this ex-con is troubled by his loses as a husband and a parent, and when his wife tells him that she needs money to fend off a loan shark by midnight he must return to his criminal past in order to achieve this goal. Having set out to rob his new employer he finds that things in the house are not the same as when he was there earlier. Stumbling about the house he soon realises that he is not the only intruder in the home, and having found the houses owner Michael (Michael Reilly Burke) and his wife Victoria (Andrea Roth) tied up and severely tortured, he understands that he’ll find it very difficult to escape from the house unscathed.
Saw became well-known for its devices, well The Collector picks up similar devices and takes them one step further, I’m sure some will say one step too far. It’s fairly brutal stuff with the intention not to kill, but to severely maim the occupants of the house, with razors on windows, guillotines, fish hooks, and pulley systems set up all around the house (Home Alone style). It’s not until you reach a scene with an acid soaked floor, with a certain glue like quality that will stick people to the floor until it dissolves them; that you realise how brutal the movie is; chiefly because the victim to encounter the floor first is a black cat. With half the cat left on the floor it is released to an even greater fate. This is a recurring image through the movie, escaping one trap only to enter one far worse.
The Collector is a bizarrely contrasting film that looks of variable budget as the movie plays out. It starts classily enough with an image that might well haunt you for a while, then almost slips into nasty Z list TV channel quality production values, before looking like its budget is boosted up for the whole house under peril final portion. It’s a curious mixed bunch, that I guess in some way adds to its charm.
This is a clever movie with a unique style that almost harks back to the horror images conjured up in Italian cinema from the 60’s to the 80’s. The film makes good use of colour, even in darkness and appears chic and stylish throughout.
As for the movies killer “The Collector” we have a disturbing looking masked character with the most interesting, and disturbing eyes. He bares more than a striking resemblance to the character of “The Tooth Fairy” as seen in Michael Mann’s Manhunter. He is strong unless hurt, at which time he feels pain just like the rest of us.But much like Saw we have a chief killer that has weaknesses, it like Saw I suspect that weakness will be his strength.
The movie is benefited further from a series of abstract scenes that can be viewed in more than one way. It also has some moments that could almost feel like false endings in which you’re practically crying out “don’t you dare end it here”. The movies final moments really leave you wanting more, and you feel that as the movie ends things are actually only just starting.
Regardless of how its received The Collector’s success Stateside has ensured not one but two sequels both of which are due in American cinemas through 2011, and I cant help that despite the movies final sounding third chapter “The Collection” that we will be seeing more of these movies before too long, and maybe, just maybe the UK will finally acknowledge the power of this original.