If you didn’t see the 2009 film, The Collector, do not fret fellow horror fan; you may still gain some level of enjoyment out of the playful and colorful sequel The Collection. The original came out at the height of the “torture porn” craze. A label that directors and writers hate even more that some of the horror genre’s harshest critics. Advertised towards the youth driven Saw fans, The Collector was a sleazy, dark, and cold take on the subject of the captor and the captive that was barely a blip on the radar when it was released – it made only $7 million during its entire US run and opened in 11th place- but has since gone on to form somewhat of a meager cult following. These weak numbers failed to intimidate writer and director Marcus Dunstan as he has returned to direct another installment that sets out to be an unapologetic exercise is cruelty and blood.
The Collection follows Elena, a new victim that is captured by our masked killer after he disperses everyone else in a gory nightclub massacre, and Arkin, our lone survivor of the previous installment. Elena’s rich father hires a group of guns for hire who take Arkin under their wing to act as a guide in order to infiltrate the maniac’s layer. The abandoned old hotel that serves as the setting soon becomes a living nightmare for everyone as they struggle to survive its endless rooms of traps and devices.
Fans of smart or intelligent horror films will have to check their brain at the door for this one as the film quickly becomes a highlight reel for gore fans and pursuers of shock cinema. The beginning nightclub sequence rivals any group teen massacre ever put on screen before. Little to no attention is spent on character development or dialogue and an emphasis is placed on the visuals. A fair comparison could be made to fellow sensational Italian director Lucio Fulci. Though Fulci has set the bar that Dunstan and company strive for, their love for the showman can be seen in several scenes including one where tarantulas are unleashed on the vulnerable Elena that bring to mind an iconic scene in The Beyond
The writing duo of Patrick Melton and Dunstan set out to make a fun and gory house of horrors. I found myself thinking how much more fun it was to create the elaborately designed fun-house rooms on display than actually having fun with the film. Right from the onset, where a sudden car crash jolts the viewer, loud noises and splashes of blood litter the film. If cheap shocks are your bag, there are plenty on display here. For a pair of films though that attempt to exist on a different level than the exhausted Saw series, the writing duo has setup a plot that is surprisingly similar to the second film in the Saw series. Several people are stuck in a booby-trapped abandoned building and are picked off one by one. Why they chose to replicate this is the only mystery in this straight forward story.
The Collection is a moderately fun gore flick where your appreciation of the gooey red stuff might make this more of a winner for most. An impeccable level of detail has been placed on the grimy and haunting rooms that incorporate everything from broken mannequins, haunting paintings, hallucinatory sculptures in glass cases, and a slew of dead bodies. It’s as if a Francis Bacon painting has exploded on the screen. While I may not recommend this for everyone, I would say that at the very least it would play great as a background film on mute during a Halloween party.