Starring: Josh Stewart, Michael Reilly Burke, Andrea Roth, Juan Fernandez
Director: Marcus Dunstan
Writer(s): Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Cinematography: Brandon Cox
Original Score: Jerome Dillon
Running Time: 90 Mins.
Knowing that The Collector is from the minds that brought us the later Saw sequels will either fill you with glee or certain dread, especially considering the heights that the franchise started at and have now been reduced to in an annual gore=fest bereft of any kind of ingenuity, but fear not The Collector is everything the first Saw film was, intense, hard to watch, brutal, terrifying, nasty and well acted to boot, everything a great horror film needs to succeed. Whatever Dunstan and Melton took from their work on said franchise it wasn’t the lack of originality their sequels possessed.
Not that The Collector is a giant leap for cinema, or horror for that matter, rather it is a gritty nasty little film that plays out like Home Alone with added death, imagine a house booby trapped to the hilt with all manner of sharp and acidic objects and a tormentor (the Collector of the title) who has taken a family hostage with a man who sought to rob them left to try to save them. The Collector pulls two trump cards, one is having the hero a villain (in a sense) and secondly choosing to leave at least some of the nastier bits to your imagination (which is ALWAYS more terrifying), that isn’t to say gore-hounds will be left disappointed for a fair amount of blood is shed.
Josh Stewart makes for a great anti-hero, an everyman who is thrust into a harrowing situation and faced with a number of dilemma’s, we learn about him as a person inside and out, something which can’t really be said of the other victims which is where The Collector begins to show a few cracks in the inital excellence. Largely a faceless family, no time is spent on them meaning they are merely there to be maimed or killed, par for the course in a slasher film but I couldn’t help feeling that in reaching that little bit further with characterisation we would have cared more for the victims in the same way we do for Stewart.
This alone though is a minor flaw in a tight, taught filmic experience, however as the intensity builds and we enter the finale The Collector slips into Halloween territory and at once admirably avoids going all “Saw” on us by having some grand and twisting scheme to unveil but frustratingly it does the opposite and leaves the killer as a cipher, with literally no explanation as to why he does what he does. mystery and the fear of the unknown are powerful tools in the horror genre, witness the original Halloween before we knew anything about “The Shape” as Michael Myers was known then, but when you have a pre credits scene that sets up the killers trademark ( collecting his victims in boxes) and comments as to his motives (” you will only live if he wants to collect you”) there needs to be a conclusion, some kind of suggestion at the very least as to who this man is and what his motives maybe beyond just a creepy, yes, but ultimately faceless monster/man.
There were two thoughts left in my mind as I left the cinema, firstly how good the film was at being scary and secondly how badly a great deal of my goodwill was squandered in the face of an obvious set-up to what looks likely to be a Saw-esque series, though I could be wrong…The Collector might just be the new Michael Myers, a faceless shape with the creepiest eyes in horror…
A tense and scary horror film,what more could you ask for… until it decides to either cop-out with a lacklustre ending or leave us hanging for a sequel with far too much left unexplained, either way The Collector loses a grade for this woeful mistake.