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The Collector
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Marcus Dunstan

Written By:
Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

Josh Stewart, Michael Reilly Burke, Andrea Roth, Juan Fernandez, Karley Scott Collins, Daniella Alonso, Haley Pullos, William Prael, Alex Feldman, Madeline Zima, Robert Wisdom, Krystal Mayo

The Collector (2009)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
August 2nd, 2009

'The Collector' is an exceedingly sadistic and relentless horror film. It comes from the minds behind the last two or three Saw movies, screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, who have indeed created a rather nightmarish and gruesome flick, but one that is modeled a little too closely on the Saw franchise. The basic premise is fundamentally identical, but the initial set-up is intriguing. Arkin (Josh Stewart) is a carpenter who plans on breaking into his new clients' home while they are away on vacation, to steal some valuable jewels, which he will sell to pay off the loan sharks threatening his ex-wife Lisa (Daniella Alonso) and daughter, Cindy (Haley Pullos).

Arkin is not a bad chap, but he sets morality aside to carry out his proposed scheme, which is going rather well, until he realizes that someone else is already inside the house, a masked killer (Juan Fernandez), who has rigged the place with elaborate and fiendish traps and trip wires that activate some of them. He would have needed several days or weeks to install all of this stuff, but he apparently was able to get it all operational in a manner of hours.

Arkin discovers that the family he thought was out of town is actually being held captive by the mysterious psychopath, and will probably be murdered unless he saves them. You have the father, Michael (Michael Reilly Burke), mother Victoria (Andrea Roth), and two daughters, Jill (Madeline Zima) and Hannah (Karley Scott Collins).

Arkin tiptoes through the premises, not always using his brain, cheating death only by luck it seems, as he never carefully studies his surroundings, which might be important to a prospective robber. The killer has no discernible motive, there is no psychological dissection of him, and he remains an enigmatic monster, doing what he does apparently because he derives some kind of sick pleasure from it.

I found this refreshing, but also a bit frustrating, as used as I am, I suppose, to Jigsaw and how he justifies his actions on the basis that his victims are rotten scoundrels deserving of a lesson. It is a cat-and-mouse game, and Arkin is at a clear disadvantage. The sound design is clever, relying on moments of silence punctuated with piercing screams, mechanical noises, creaking floors and doors. The music is portentous, the soundtrack comprised of tracks from Korn, Depeche Mode, and Bauhaus, and an original score composed mostly by former Nine Inch Nails drummer Jerome Dillon.

Technically and stylistically proficient, with admirably ominous and artsy cinematography from Brandon Cox. A lot of care and patience went into just about every shot. The story is extremely sparse and straightforward, not a lot of needless exposition or grim philosophizing. Stewart bears a strong resemblance to Sean Penn, or rather a younger Sean Penn. This kept popping into my mind. His performance is better and more effective than initially expected.

The title character gives off a Michael Myers vibe, never uttering a single world, or removing his mask, physically imposing and frightful to behold. Not exactly scary, but unsettling, and sure to make some viewers squirm and flinch. No real twists or surprises, and a sequel is sure to be released within the next year or two. Make sure to stay through the closing credits for a bonus scene.

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