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The Collection – 6

Director – Marcos Dunstan

Cast – Josh Stewart, Randall Archer, Emma Fitzpatrick, Lee Tergesen, Shannon Kane, Christopher McDonald, Johanna Braddy, Shannon Kane, Andre Royo, Tim Griffin, Navi Rawat

Release Year – 2012

Reviewed by John of the Dead

The Collection is the first film to excite me since last month’s Sinister. Aside from a few of their lesser works I have remained a fan of Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton’s work. They wrote Feast, which is one of my all-time favorite horror films (I won’t mention what I think about Feast II and III), and after writing Saw IV, V, VI (and eventually Saw VII) they gave us their first writing/directing effort with The Collector in 2009. I liked The Collector for several reasons, but the biggest reason was that it gave us a new villain. In a day where remakes and sequels are way too prevalent I was very happy to see a new killer, even if he or his story are not very original, because in these days “new” is the new “original” due to the constant rehashing of known villains.

…small rant approaching…

In all honesty I was surprised to see this film receive a wide theatrical release nationwide (the same cannot be said for Canada though). The Collector was not an amazing film and it did not make an amazing amount of money, but I am very appreciative to have received this highly-anticipated (by the genre and I) film at my local theater to see on a big “digital” screen instead of crap like The Apparition. Seriously though, The Apparition on the big screen? Dark Castle / Warner Brothers, what the HELL?

…done ranting…

The Collection continues less than a week after the events of the first film. While narrowly escaping The Collector’s grasp after days of grueling torture, Arkin witnesses the kidnapping of a pretty young girl who then takes his place as The Collector’s newest prize. The young girl is Elena, the daughter of a very rich man who has nothing else to live for, and he enlists Arkin to a team of mercenaries assembled to find her and bring her back alive…giving Arkin a shot at freedom and sweet revenge against his former captor.

The opening scene of this film lets you know what you can expect from this 82 minute piece, and that is…a spectacular ride of thrills and kills that doesn’t skimp on the gore. The film takes off quick, with the tremendous opening sequence delivering more kills than some entire horror franchises deliver, and of course with this story coming from the Dunstan/Melton duo you can expect some very intricate kill sequences from very well-designed and complex devices. The scene ultimately ends with Arkin finding his freedom and Elena losing hers, and soon after that Arkin finds his freedom short-lived as he leads the mercenary team, lead by “Lucello”, to return Elena to her father at all costs. Always there for her and her dad, Lucello appears to be the only person in the film aside from her father to really care for Elena, with the other characters simply working for money and Arkin out for revenge. They soon enter a very large abandoned hotel that hosts The Collector and his “collection”, which was quite amazing in its design and architecture and a bit far fetched, but this is a movie so go figure. The good stuff begins as soon as they enter the hotel, with The Collector’s numerous booby traps providing extreme obstacles for the protagonists, but eventually (and after a few deaths) they get by the traps and our villain is forced to literally take matters into his own hands.

The majority of the film takes place in The Collector’s hotel/lair, which provided an awesome claustrophobic atmosphere and some nowhere-to-run scenarios thanks to the traps and trick doors. As the group’s numbers dwindled one by one I expected to see more tension between them, but I was surprised to see that they remained pretty much as calm and collected as when they entered the hotel. This can be seen as both good and bad, with those wanting conflict finding it a negative aspect and those wanting plain old badassery seeing it as the opposite. As far as characters go I really only found Arkin and The Collector fun to watch, with Lucello coming in at a very distant second to them. Arkin developed quite a bit after the events of the first film, and The Collector displayed his talents in martial arts and edged weapons, and with an occasional AR-15 during one of the film’s most iconic moments. By now you should know that the writers did not put much emphasis on character play as they did other elements, like gore and kills, and honestly this being the film it is I never found the lack of effort involving the characters to be that big of a deal.

Co-writer Marcus Dunstan directs this film, as he did The Collector, and even his direction portrays this film much differently than its predecessor. His atmosphere is great and the sets he used are amazing, and I was glad to see that the level of CGI effects was low and the effects were only used when needed. We are given plenty of practical gore effects and live-action killing devices, and it was this that really made the film a fun one to watch. The acting performances were OK from everyone but our leads, with Josh Stewart doing a find job at portraying a different Arkin that from the first film, and Randall Archer was quite amazing as the new Collector. I am not sure why Juan Fernandez was not brought back to reprise his role as The Collector, but Archer did well and left me impressed with his blade skills. One positive that I did not notice until the end of the film was how awesome its pacing was. For a film coming in at 82 minutes it definitely felt much “longer” than that, and in a good way. It did not feel longer by it dragging or taking too long to develop, this was a film that was paced just right and delivered enough of the goods to keep me engaged, and I give credit to positive writing and directing execution for that.

After walking out of this film my immediate thought was “These two films remind me so much of Alien and Aliens”. The Collector is much like Alien – a slower, more atmospheric and scarier film compared to its sequel, and The Collection is much like Aliens – a flat-out action-oriented film that still delivers good horror but comes with the intent of giving the audience a fun ride over a scary one. In fact, the similarities between this film and Aliens continue with Arkin coming back to help the mercenaries find The Collector, just like how Ripley accompanied the Marines sent to kill off the alien species in Aliens. Basically, what I am getting at is despite this film carrying on the storyline from its predecessor they are really two different films with different intentions. Those expecting more of the first film will see some good similarities, like the awesome booby traps and creative kills, but the “feel” of the film will be different, so expect that and you’ll appreciate the film more.

Overall, The Collection is a fun film that offers a different experience than the first, but an enjoyable one so long as you are in it for the gore, action, and awesome kills.

Rating: 6/10

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