The Collection (Marcus Dunstan, 2012)
I’m still not quite sure what led me to press play on Marcus Dunstan’s The Collection. It’s the sequel to his 2009 film The Collector, which I loathed. But since I watched it, I have read a number of reviews of it, and everyone else had the same reaction I did: “wow, that first one was pretty awful, but The Collection shows Dunstan learned from his mistakes.” Well, maybe not in so many words, but the sentiment is there. I may be overplaying this; The Collection has a 37% rating at Rotten Tomatoes (critical), while The Collector has 30%. But hey, a seven-percent improvement is a step in the right direction, no? While ultimately The Collection is yet another serial killer movie, after the first few minutes Dunstan abandons all attempts at realism and turns this into the movie Saw II kind of wanted to be out of the corner of its eye (and I say this as an unabashed fan of Saw II, the last entry in that franchise I liked); you throw a bunch of people in a craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy house with a demented killer and see what happens. Nothing that happens is new or original, but it’s pretty fun.
NOTE: The following plot synopsis necessarily contains spoilers for the previous film. If you have not seen The Collector and are planning to, you’ll want to skip the next paragraph.
When we last saw the Collector (24‘s Randall Archer), he was, of course, getting away scot-free. Otherwise, this would be a very short film. We open in a dance club with loud music and lasers and all sorts of chaos—so when a series of traps starts taking out the guests, very few people initially notice. Elena (The Social Network‘s Emma Fitzpatrick) is at the club, but has no idea what’s going on out there; she spotted her boyfriend with another girl, stormed off into a random room, and found a big chest. When she opened it, she discovered the battered body of Arkin (The Dark Knight Rises‘ Josh Stewart), the Collector’s—supposedly—final victim in the previous film. The two of them escape, through some rather unbelievable stunts, the massacre out in the main room. Well, “escape” may be pushing it a little, since while Arkin gets away by jumping out a window, Elena is grabbed by the Collector and spirited off to his place. The cops are more than willing to pin everything on Arkin, effectively blackmailing him, as the only surviving victim of the Collector, to take them through the house searching for Elena. Needless to say, while Arkin knows some of the Collector’s tricks, he doesn’t know all of them…
Yeah, well, it’s a “put a bunch of people in a trapped house and sit back and watch the fun” movie. You know what? If you played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid and the infamous, utterly sadistic Tomb of Horrors tournament module was one of your favorites, you will get a lot of kicks out of this movie. (Unfortunately, no one thought to stuff a Sphere of Annihilation into a gargoyle’s mouth here.) No, there’s not a great deal of plot, but the horrors Arkin and his forcible cohorts discover are varied and far more imaginative than anything you saw in the first film; Dunstan learned from his mistakes, and did so relatively quickly. That’s a rarity in Hollywood, and nowhere more so than in genre horror. Turn your brain off, sit back with a bucket of popcorn, and enjoy. ** ½