Due to my hatred of seeing movies alone, I tried in vain to get people to come see “The Collection.” Unfortunately, it seems that not many people are eager to see a grizzly, R-rated slasher flick from the creators of “Saw” IV through VI. Ultimately, I ended up respecting their immediate hesitation. The film is a sequel to 2009’s “The Collector,” which is pretty much just mean-spirited torture porn about a serial killer who torments people in their own homes. Indeed, with a trailer depicting an opening sequence of a nightclub’s dance floor turning into a blender, there didn’t seem to be much hope for the follow-up. That said, I’m both surprised and a little bit disturbed to say that, as a long time horror fan, I actually had a blast with this one.
First off, let me just say that you can, and probably should, enter this movie without seeing “The Collector.” All you need to know is that the titular psychopath is a serial killer with a penchant for booby traps who always abducts one of the victims of his killing spree. The previous film ended with Arkin (Josh Stewart), a burglar who made a poor choice in homes to burglarize, being abducted by the Collector. This film begins with Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick), a young woman with a close relationship with her rich, loving father, at a nightclub which, we soon find out, has been chosen by the Collector as the scene for an almost cartoon-like killing spree. In the resulting carnage, Elena survives only to be captured, while Arkin manages an escape. Arkin is brought to a hospital only to be abducted once more by a team of mercenaries hired by Elena’s father. The team forces Arkin to lead them to the Collector’s fortress, an old, abandoned hotel, and help them rescue Elena. What proceeds is a cat-and-mouse game between the team of mercenaries and the Collector within the bizarre, booby-trapped labyrinth that essentially acts as his castle.
The first strange thing about this movie is that, as a horror film, it takes the same approach as something like “Aliens” or “Predator.” But that isn’t the only strange thing about this movie. To put it simply, this film is batshit insane. From the moment the mercenaries enter the Collector’s lair, we’re presented with a nonstop barrage of bizarre mayhem and carnage. I went into this expecting the group to go through the standard motions of making dumb decisions as they’re steadily picked off one by one by an omnipotent, invincible killer. However, the movie manages to steer clear of almost all the major tropes that consistently irritate me in horror movies. The characters decisions all make sense. Admittedly, you can tell pretty early on which members of the group are marked for death, but this is compensated by what the film starts to do with its more proactive characters in the latter half. Ultimately, this film becomes a story of victims getting back at their tormentor, which I found to be an incredibly refreshing alternative to the usual mean-spirited tone of a lot of modern horror movies. On top of all this, the movie concluded with one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever seen in a horror movie (not to give away any spoilers or anything).
“The Collection” also achieves its scares in a very unique way. Without spoiling too much, as soon as the team enters the hotel, it encounters more than just a sadistic killer and his jigsaw style traps. Revealing what exactly takes place would actually ruin a lot of the film’s fun surprises, but let’s just say that the film pushes things way past the realms of plausibility. And you know what? That’s what makes it so much fun. The hotel ultimately acts as a haunted house, leading us through room after room of the abandoned space, each filled with something new and bizarre. I feel the need to tip my hat to director Marcus Dunstan, who managed to bring a morbidly strange directorial flair to this film that really made it stand out. The prevailing tension is always combined with bizarre set pieces and surprisingly colorful visuals; furthermore, there are even moments when the movie exhibits a certain dark and twisted sense of humor.
Entering this movie, one needs to be prepared. This is probably one of the goriest movies I’ve ever seen. The movie establishes its irreverent treatment toward violence in the opening club scene, with people being diced, crushed and generally eviscerated. Honestly, watching this I wasn’t entirely sure how to feel during some of the more brutal scenes. On the one hand, there are moments when the film is more than grizzly and downright disturbing. But at the same time, the violence in this movie reaches such absurd levels that it feels like a live action “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon. Now, for me, this wasn’t a huge problem, not only because of my high tolerance for gore in movies, but also because of the shift in tone the movie undergoes near the end. I’d also argue that there are never any moments that qualify as torture porn. Sure, the movie is violent, but it never reaches the same levels of sadistic unpleasantness of “Hostel” or “Saw.” It becomes increasingly clear that, in spite of its apparent ugliness, this is actually a movie that you’re supposed to have fun with, if you can stomach it.
“The Collection” could serve as a litmus test for horror fans. If you’re not someone who watches a lot of horror movies, especially ones that kick up the gore and violence, then you may not be able to get through it. But if you are (especially slasher movies), this flick will be a refreshing and satisfying experience. I personally found that by matching the killer with a team of genuinely potent, intelligent bad-asses, the movie gave me everything that most horror movies leave me wanting. Ultimately, if you’re prepared to grit your teeth and shield your eyes during a few scenes, this is definitely something you shouldn’t miss.