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John’s Horror Corner: The Collector (2009), the intersection of a satisfyingly brutal Saw-wannabe and a booby-trapped You’re Next (2013) home invasion.

January 28, 2019

MY CALL: A mean-spirited brutal film with a weak plot, but promising much fun for fans of gore, torture and shocking death scenes. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Collector: For more brutal torture porn, try the Saw movies (2004-2010, 2017) and The Collection (2012). I’d also suggest You’re Next (2013) and Martyrs (2008).

Desperate for money, Arkin (Josh Stewart; The Collection, Insidious: The Last Key, The Haunting of Molly Hartley) plans a home invasion to steal jewels from his employer. However, much to his surprise, another criminal with more insidious motives has rigged the home into deadly trapped house of horrors.

The opening scene feels a lot like a Saw sequel, and that’s essentially what we’re getting except with a much more simple plot. I mean, it’s entertaining, but nowhere nearly as thoughtfully engaging. Our mastermind killer’s traps seem either crude (to the point of being uninteresting at first glance) or unlikely to be triggered, but of course most of them are. And I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoyed it—being a gorehound who doesn’t mind the occasional brutally mean film.

Whatever you thought of Jigsaw’s elaborate scenarios, this all strikes me as more far-fetched if only because the killer had one day to kidnap the homeowners, install numerous new deadbolts, and set up all those traps. Doors and windows are locked or barricaded, phones and possible weapons (like scissors and golf clubs) are booby-trapped, trigger wires abound, bear traps litter the floor and razor wire spiderwebs one of the rooms. The Collector (Juan Fernández; In Hell) has turned this upper-class home into a death house.

There’s decent blood and wound work, the sticky acid floor “cat scene” provides some memorable gooey silliness (unless you’re sensitive to animals dying in movies), there’s a healthy complement of guts, lips are stitched shut, fish hooks are used to wincingly uncomfortable degrees, and we see some rather inspired use of a dead guy’s head as sort of a makeshift battering ram (and it gets messy). Just in case the very nature of this exploitative film wasn’t apparent enough, there’s also a healthy dose gratuitous nudity (Madeline Zima; Californication, Heroes) with our killer watching and licking his lips like Leatherface.

Writer (Saw IV-VII, Piranha 3DD, Feast I-III) and director Marcus Dunstan (The Collection) has, needless to say, crafted a mean-spirited film in Saw’s likeness, but completely lacking any of Saw’s story-telling elegance or character development. So, if you want to see a movie that’s just mean for the sake of being mean (and gory), maybe this is right up your alley. But I wouldn’t broadly recommend to fans of the Saw franchise unless they outwardly didn’t care much for a feasible plot… which, honestly, I don’t. So I enjoyed this.

If you awkwardly giggle when hard-to-watch scenes make you wince and if you delight in abrupt death scenes that may just provoke an outburst of laughter as you jump and point at the screen, this is probably for you.

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