The Collector has the distinct honor of being the only film I've reviewed here on Freddy In Space twice, with two different overall opinions on the film. Ya see, when I saw it back in the theater in 2009, I didn't dislike it, but rather I was fairly on the fence in regards to how I felt about it. I kinda couldn't get over how much it felt like a Saw movie, and I was just all around unimpressed with it.
Sometimes, you need to give a movie a second chance before you really appreciate it, and The Collector, for me, is a perfect example of that. After my friend Jesse bought me the Blu-ray for my birthday, in 2010, I revisited the film and found that I quite enjoyed it, a lot more than I did the first time around. Who knows, maybe I just wasn't in the right mood when I saw it in the theater, but I've since re-watched it a couple times, and I consider myself a big time fan of the film.
The Collector is a stylish and nasty little horror flick, certainly cut from the same cloth as the Saw films, but really the anti-Saw, if ya think about it. While Jigsaw was a somewhat compassionate dude who ultimately wanted his victims to survive their traps, so they'd come away from his torment with a new found appreciation for their lives, 'the Collector' just wants to fucking kill everything in his sights, be it man, woman, child or cat. Though he probably learned his trap making skills from the same twisted school of torture that Jigsaw graduated from, the Collector doesn't give a shit about teaching anyone lessons, or giving anyone a new lease on life. He just wants to maim, torture and kill, in the most brutal and creative ways possible, as if he knows that we're all sitting back and watching him, counting on him to satiate our collective blood lust.
So while I initially viewed the film as just another attempt by the makers of the Saw films to make another Saw film, just with a different title, I now appreciate The Collector as its own badass horror film, with its own uber badass and totally iconic villain. It's an incredibly brutal horror flick that goes for the jugular at every turn, whether a cat is getting decapitated, a dog is getting blown in half with a shotgun, or a dead dude's head is being used as a battering ram, and I can't help but love its viciousness and lack of interest in teaching any kind of lesson, having any kind of message, or really trying to do anything but subject the audience to an hour and a half of mean spirited shit. Hell, even the good guy is a bad guy!!
So yea. Again I say, sometimes movies deserve a second chance. Whenever I find myself on the fence about any given movie, I always try to provide them with that luxury, and that's thanks to movies like The Collector. Hey, by the way, I didn't like Clockwork Orange the first time I saw it either. So there's that!
The Collection picks up pretty shortly after the events of The Collector, with Arkin still in the possession of that creepy masked dude with those weird ass glowing raccoon eyes. At the start of the film, the Collector wipes out an entire dance floor of partygoers, in gloriously gory fashion, and the surviving female of the massacre (Elena) finds Arkin stuffed in one of the Collector's signature red chests, in a back room of the night club. After she helps Arkin escape, she is captured by the Collector, and Arkin winds up in the comfort of the hospital, his hellish ordeal finally over ... or so he thinks. He barely has even a minute to speak with his wife and take a breather before he's essentially kidnapped by a group of mercenaries, forced at gunpoint to head into the Collector's lair, and help rescue Elena, who is the daughter of a wealthy dude who has hired the thugs to bring her back to safety. In other words, a whole lot of people are about to die, and it's once again up to our badass anti-hero Arkin to save the day.
The best way I can describe The Collection is that it is to The Collector what Aliens is to Alien. Not only is the general plot very similar, with the survivor of the first film being thrust back into their nightmare, but so too is the overall approach of the film, which is bigger, more action packed, and more downright batshit crazy. While The Collector is an intense and confined straight up horror flick, The Collection is played more for the blown out spectacle of it all, and the intention of the filmmakers this time around seemed to be to just have fun, and give the audience an hour and a half thrill ride packed with blood, guts and badassery. Is The Collection as good of a film as The Collector? I wouldn't say that. But what it lacks in superiority it more than makes up for in fun, and I personally had a blast with it, so much so that I was able to forgive and forget pretty much all of its flaws.
The Collection does have more than a couple flaws, including some bad acting, a few laughably silly scenarios and a complete disregard of the whole plot point from the first film about Arkin's wife owing money to loan sharks (hell, for that matter, their daughter seems to have completely vanished too), but again, the movie is just so much damn fun that all that stuff really doesn't even matter. That is, if you're willing to just allow yourself to have fun, and look past some plot holes, inconsistencies, and things of that nature. Personally, I tend to not get caught up in little stuff like that, especially when it comes to horror films. I consider myself a fairly simple horror fan to please, and when the film kicked off with the Collector out Ghost Ship'ing Ghost Ship and turning a dance club into a human meat grinder, I knew I was going to be more than pleased. I mean come on, really, isn't the reason we watch horror films to see shit like that?!
The Collection is a blood soaked blast from start to finish, 80 minutes of nonstop torture and brutality that plays out like a virtual walkthrough of a Saw themed haunted attraction ... only, one that most people don't survive. As the characters make their way through Hotel Argento, a big old abandoned hotel that the Collector houses his titular collection in, we too are subjected to the traps and horrors that await them around every corner, which is largely what makes the movie so much fun to watch. And what awaits them around those corners is at times quite surprising, being that the Collector isn't the only one they have to look out for. Rather than spoiling anything, I'll have to leave it at that.
The mythology of the Collector is expanded upon a bit in this one, as we find out exactly what he is doing with the people he collects. As you've probably gathered from the awesome poster for the film (above), he collects people the same way hunters collect the animals they kill, displaying them in his home, like the trophy pieces they are to him. The job the art department did on his collection is absolutely stunning (dare I say, even beautiful), and the aptly titled Hotel Argento all around a visual treat. But the Collector does more with his victims than merely display them in his home, which is again where I have to cut myself off, for fear of spoiling anything!
Ultimately though, a lot of questions are still left in regards to the Collector and his motives, which I was glad to see. Not only does it leave ample ground for sequel potential, but it also keeps some mystery about him, which is something about the first film that I really dug. The less we know about this guy, the scarier he is. I'm personally a huge fan of the character, and feel he's one of the closest things we've got to a modern day horror icon, alongside folks like Jigsaw, Leslie Vernon, Trick 'r Treat's Sam, and Victor Crowley. Time for an action figure, methinks!
**FUN FACT : LIKE A TRUE HORROR ICON, THE COLLECTOR HAS NOW BEEN PLAYED BY TWO DIFFERENT ACTORS. IN THE FIRST FILM, IT WAS JUAN FERNANDEZ UNDER THE MASK. IN THIS ONE, RANDALL ARCHER TOOK OVER THE ROLE**
Not only does The Collection further cement the Collector's status as a badass iconic horror villain, but it also solidifies the character of Arkin as one of the most badass final guys in recent horror history, sort of the horror genre's John McLane. Love the dynamic and history that's been built up between those two, and it was awesome to once again see them duke it out. Give me an Arkin toy too, while you're at it!
I've heard a few people complaining about there being a lot of CGI used for the kills in the movie, but I personally found all the gore to be exceptional, with very little noticeable CGI present. Just like The Collector, The Collection is heavy on the practical effects, and it all looks terrific. So yea, just wanted to clear that up, for anyone who had heard similar gripes about the film. There's a whole lot of gore in this one, and I expect you'll be quite pleased with the way it all looks.
The bottom line is this. If you go into The Collection expecting The Collector : Part 2, there's a decent chance you might come out of the theater disappointed. The vibe and tone of the film is far different, and The Collection is above all else a good old fashioned body count horror flick, fast food horror at its finest. If you're looking for wild and crazy fun, packed with equal amounts of silliness and awesomeness, The Collection is the movie for you. Remember when we used to be able to just turn off our brains and enjoy gory horror films, without being overly critical of them? Try to put yourself back in that mindset for this one. Buy the ticket, take the ride, and have fun.
I for one hope that the Collector becomes the next Jigsaw and that the franchise becomes the next Saw, with a new installment every year. It looks like that's where things are headed, and I've got no problem with that!