The Collector (2009)

Like some sort of horror Home Alone, The Collector is a home invasion slasher with elements of “torture porn” in which a masked killer sets up traps for an unfortunate family and a burglar who breaks in to steal a rare ruby. Arkin is a safe cracker with family trouble, he cases a family home with the distinct plan of stealing the jeweller father’s precious stone and using the proceeds to pay off a gangster who is threatening his wife and daughter. It’s a simple premise, and through all of it’s goofiness manages to be a pretty taut horror experience.

The traps are incredibly convoluted, lots of trip wires lead to flying blades, rooms filled with bear traps, and spring loaded platforms that propel people who do not tread carefully into walls of spikes. The sheer gall of these traps makes it easy to enjoy this film on a similar level to that of the Final Destination movies. Plenty of silly death scenes, ludicrous traps, and lashings of gore. I’d read somewhere that was written as a Saw prequel. I’m not sure how this would work in that canon, but I definitely think it works as a standalone piece. The family are certainly not squeaky clean, which seems to be a remnant of the original screenplay but again, this works within the slasher archetypes laid out for all to see in the Scream movies.

The Collector is presented as an other worldly entity, all creaks and whirrs. His Nightbreed style mask makes him look creepy as hell in the flashes we see early on, but as the film progresses and we see more of him, he begins to look a little bit ridiculous. I found it refreshing that, in a world where film is explained to the nth degree, no explanation for the killer’s motives (other than the fact he is a collector) were explained. It was nice to see a random killer stalking a random family for sport. It made his actions seem all the more gruesome, and as a viewer I had no idea of what he would do next. This lack of explanation recalled films like Funny Games, as well as the slasher films of yore. Although, that isn’t to say it is as intelligent as Haneke’s parable on violence in movies, nor is it as arrogantly forceful.

Written and directed by the team who wrote the Feast films, it’s nice to see them continue down their cine-literate track (although I haven’t seen the Saw films that they had a hand in as of yet). The Collector clearly has a giallo influence. Some of the shots have shades of Argento or Bava written right through them like a stick of well-lit rock. The lighting and composition is used to great effect in creating that creepy atmosphere, just like the old Italian masters used to do. It doesn’t hurt that The Collector wears black gloves throughout too. Again, I am not saying this is as good as a Blood And Black Lace, but it does show a certain aptitude for in-camera knowledge and eye for direction. Having not seen anything from the cinematographer, Brandon Cox, and this being the debut feature from the director, I have no idea who deserves the praise but it definitely looks excellent.

The Collector is a well crafted, disposable slice of modern slasher horror. Curbing from classics but keeping its sensibilities very much in the present day, it sits as an excellent example of the genre. Sure, it’s almost bereft of anything interesting to say thematically, some of the writing is pretty clunky and there are a whole host of unanswered questions (Why didn’t he lock the door until after Arkin was in? Why is there no blood on the traps before Arkin arrives? Is he just there for Arkin?) but strong performances and a focus on visual style make this stand out from the current crop. I do believe there are sequels in the pipeline, and while I am interested to see more, I am also pretty worried that the character will be explained away as just another Jigsaw which would be a real shame.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

One Comment on “The Collector”

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.