TIM LINCE: The Collector

Starring Josh Stewart, Andrea Roth and Haley Pullos. Directed by Marcus Dunstan. Released June 25 2010. Certificate 18. Genre – Horror.

My thoughts before

AFTER England’s dreadful performance against Germany, where they showed all the charisma of a dead fish, what better way to rub salt into the wound by watching a horror film with an unknown cast and director?

I figure it’s a slightly more productive thing to do on a work night than commiserate more at the pub anyway.

Marcus Dunstan directs The Collector, and although you’ve probably not heard of him he’s written the screenplay for the last three Saw films and the Feast trilogy (ok, I’ve not heard of that either).

This is his debut movie in the director’s chair and he’s drawn quite a cast – Josh Stewart from a few episodes of Criminal Minds, Daniella Alonso who appeared in a season of the teenager drama One Tree Hill and countless other star names.

Not that it really matters (how many horror films do draw big names?), I’m just cynical because the last Saw film was dire and director Marcus Dunstan was behind it.

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And because of the England match – that was a horror film in itself.

Afterwards

THE gist of the review in a Twitter-sized, time-saving sentence: The Collector is a grown-up, gory Home Alone – if Macaulay Culkin’s character became a leather masked psycho.

If that sounds like your thing then it’s the horror film for you. For fans of the Saw series then you’ll get some grim but overly familiar pleasure from it. For everyone else it offers little for you.

You see, this mish-mash of films (Home Alone meets Saw) is so similar to both that it just ends up as a parody of both.

You’ll end up waiting for the next bit of gore and almost oddly look forward to which trap will catch the next person that enters; but just like both films you won’t care about any of the characters because they’re so damn stupid.

The film wants us to care about the family unwittingly (and unexplainably) entangled in The Collector’s sick game, especially as they frustratingly refused to keep quiet in times they could have escaped the situation. But you won’t.

And what about the hero of the piece? The bold, daring protagonist who is the innocent family’s only hope?

Oh dear! It turns out that, first off, he’s a thief who’s trying to steal from the family he’s forced to try and rescue. But second off he’s the most physically and mentally inept ‘hero’ ever committed to celluloid.

The most frustrating moments in films are when the viewer clearly knows a much simpler, easier way to sort out a bad situation.

When it was clear our hero could easily have left the house to notify police from the very start then it kind of makes every death and moment of torture needless and frustrating.

And the continued mistakes, errors and goofs he continued to pursue left me wanting to scream at him and not the villain’s various death-traps.

Moving on to the villain himself, Mr Collector, there were various frustrations and unanswered questions too. Without wanting to spoil any of the paper-thin plot points for the readers of this I’ll point out the most obvious glaring thing that stick out from his plan: how the hell did he have time to rig this house completely with all this booby traps?

Aside from the glaring, gaping-wide plot-hole, and the fact he had no reasoning behind anything and one of his trapped killed a cat (the most upsetting death of the film), he was fairly iconic in the can-see-a-horror-franchise-start-here kind of way. No-one will be wearing his ridiculous mask come this October’s Halloween though.

So The Collector is as any debut director who has a history of writing the worst Saw movies was always going to be. The editing, colour pallet and music held no originality (ripped-off straight from the Saw films) and any twists in the plot failed to build excitement, just frustration.

So for those who like the gore, traps, torture and general thrills of modern horrors may find this a worthy one to check out. It leaves scares and twists at the door but it has the odd sick close-ups to leave you strangely satisfied (if you’re into that sort of thing).

But avoid like the plague if your idea of a good horror film is a psychological scare like The Shining or Psycho though; there’s no genius originality, cleverness or built-up of scares here at all.

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