Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #267
Number of Views: One
Release Date: July 31, 2009
Sub-Genre: Home Invasion/Extreme Exploitation
Country of Origin: United States
Box Office: $9,400,000
Running Time: 90 minutes
Director: Marcus Dunstan
Screenplay: Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton
Producers: Brett Forbes, Julie Richardson, Patrick Rizzotti, Christopher Lockhart
Special Effects: Mike J. Regan, Gary J. Tunnicliffe
Visual Effects: David Karlak
Cinematography: Brandon Cox
Score: Jerome Dillon, Nathaniel Caserta
Editing: Alex Luna, James Mastracco
Studios: Fortress Features, Neo Art & Logic, Imaginarium Entertainment Group
Distributors: Freestyle Releasing, LD Entertainment
Stars: Josh Stewart, Michael Reilly Burke, Andrea Roth, Juan Fernández, Karley Scott Collins, Madeline Zima, Robert Wisdom, William Prael, Diane Ayala Goldner, Haley Pullos, Daniella Alonso, Patrick Rizzotti, Jayme Suzonne Riser, Krystal Mayo, Michele Diane Pate, Nicole Antranette Fisher, Joe Conger, Alex Feldman
Suggested Audio Candy
Combichrist “Shut Up and Bleed”
I have never cared for the term ‘torture porn’. I find it a rather crass way in which to pigeon-hole any film where suffering is a little more prolonged and it all seemed to stem from the time where Saw and Hostel were flexing their theatrical muscles. As expected, a glut of exploitation flicks followed and many of them simply cashed in on this mantle. Occasionally however, there were exceptions to this rule and Marcus Dunstan’s The Collector definitely fits this particular bill.
Dunstan has been responsible for screenwriting duties on a number of gene favorites, notably all three shamelessly enjoyable Feast movies and, ironically, some of the later Saw sequels. This was actually primed as a prequel to Saw before it was decided that this was not the course of action to take. Had it fallen under that umbrella, then it would likely have performed a lot better theatrically although a brief, relatively successful run helped bankroll a sequel in 2012 which saw Dunstan return to the fray.
As much as this comfortably sits within exploitation it is actually more of a psychological thriller and home invasion movie to boot. It follows a slew of suchlike features but distinguishes itself through pressure cooker tension, smart pacing and a melange of ever-more ingenious traps. Dunstan is clearly quite the dab hand in this respect and distancing itself from the franchise actually works in its favor. The plot, often convoluted when Jigsaw is the one dishing the death, is a one-note affair, and this allows us to focus on what’s really important: those trip wires and trigger points.
The film hinges on the exploits of our reluctant hero Arkin (Josh Stewart) a professional thief who, in an attempt to save his wife from the hands of a local loan shark, unwittingly breaks into the same rural abode being used to store a rather macabre collection of sorts. Most folk are contented with stamps or baseball trading cards whereas the collector of the title here hoards human livestock until which point as they are superfluous to his requirements. Hapless Arkin walks headlong into the lion’s den and quickly wishes he had resorted to mugging a defenseless geriatric as his plight rapidly becomes more ominous.
We are exposed to all manner of booby traps, spider webs, punji sticks and chomping snares as Arkin ventures deeper into the warren and are introduced to a number of stragglers whose job it is to ignore every last warning and run about like rabbits in headlights until which time as we hear a discordant ping. When this occurs, it is time for the safety goggles, as the splash zone is extensive and the grue excessive. Yet, for all the evisceration on exhibit, The Collector is ostensibly a thriller and that is credit to Dunstan and co as their movie rises above mediocrity with little fuss.
It’s classic cat-and-mouse stuff, with our beleaguered protagonist mostly managing to stay one step ahead of the game until the net comes closing in around him in a taut final act where push invariably comes to shove and in stellar fashion. Our lead may have questionable intention but he is never less than noble and rather resourceful to boot. His reluctance to focus only on self-preservation endears him to us infinitely, even when the boundaries of logic begin to blur a little. Thankfully, sterling lighting, editing and score elevate this above the droves and there is no shortage of finesse on display. To add credence, the killer in question looks the part, clad in gimp-like mask with tongue protruding and beady eyes watching intently.
The Collector ultimately falls a little short of being considered a must-see. That’s not to say it doesn’t come close, a lot more so than it has any right to. If you have seen all that Jigsaw has up his lengthy sleeve then I would say that it is your logical next move to check this out. The path may be littered with pitfalls and quagmires but entrapment is never necessitated. Definitely one worthy of close inspection and a rather creditable addition to your own collection.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Plentiful splatter and enough booby traps rigged up within this hostile manse to call to mind vintage sessions of Spy vs Spy. Intestines are spilled, flailing carcasses punctured by multiple spikes, snares crunch their tyrannous teeth upon any wayward stragglers, and one poor douche goes swimming in an electrified pool of water, to marvellous effect. Throw in some extreme close-up of facial embroidery and a couple of perky mammalia and everyone’s a winner…except for our losers of course.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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