Arkin (Josh Stewart) has problems. His wife owes a vague yet sufficiently large amount of cash to loan sharks, and his handyman job doesn't pay enough to help. It does get him into homes, however, and being an ex-con in cahoots with a robbery ring, he decides to steal a huge gem from the house he's been casing. All looks well and good, but as soon as he breaks into the home he finds that someone has beaten him to it. A masked creep has been torturing the family, and has booby trapped the house to the hilt. The burglar is faced with the moral dilemma of stealing, fleeing or saving the family. Escape is not going to be fun.
When I replay this movie in my head, it's like a broken, messed-up dream that's both out of synch and hard to retell in any form of coherence. The Collector has too many hazy dream-like scenes that just don't make sense raising more questions than it answers. Like, why was there so much time for Arkin to go from room to room interacting with each torture victim undetected by the green-eyed predator with the leather bondage mask? How could the evil one set all those traps in the course of a few hours? And if not expecting anybody why then booby-trap the house? Why would a man who has a life-or-death midnight deadline to steal a jewel not carry a cell phone? And who exactly is this "Collector" and what drove him to play these games?
There is no doubt that writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan (responsible for Feast 1, 2 & 3 and Saw 4, 5, 6) will churn out The Collector 2, 3 & 4 in coming years, so we may get answers to these questions at some point. But this doesn't offset my disappointment that this movie looked so cool and could've worked on so many levels if it had a twist or more development of the subplots and some common sense. Instead, Melton and Dunstan chose to cash in strictly on torture porn.
Dunstan's slick directing excels in mood setting but the timing of the scares and gross-out gore seemed off kilter. The deaths aren't played out as much as the killer relies on his knife and gun. Sure, the booby traps all get used but they're pretty easy to anticipate. It was, however, refreshing to see a film filled with unknown actors. Stewart carries the heft of the film though there's hardly any acting to speak of, just reacting. The score is superb with howling wind, squeaks and creaks, and Bauhaus creeping in with "Bela Lugosi's Dead."
At the end of the day, The Collector is a bona-fide mess: a miasma of cheap tricks delivering nothing but gut-wrenching, stomach-churning, gory effects. At least the Saw franchises provide a method to their madness, a sense of purpose and even twisted morality. This movie feels lazy, full of plot holes, and far-fetched circumstances. While the main idea of two bad guys with different interests colliding at the same place sounds rather intriguing, The Collector fails to use this concept intelligently. Instead, we are subjected to a meandering journey into the macabre world of sadistic torture for sick voyeuristic pleasure, lacking a sense of humor and devoid of any redeeming qualities.
The Collector ★★✩✩✩
Starring Josh Stewart, Daniella Alonso, Michael Reilly Burke, Andrea Roth. Directed by Marcus Dunstan