Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Film Review: The Collector (2009)

The Collector (Review)
United States/2009
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

Arkin works as a handyman for the Chase family. Arkin's wife has until midnight to pay off her debt to some loan sharks. Arkin's plans on burglarizing the Chase home, which holds a valuable ruby, while they're on vacation. Arkin's breaks into the home and starts to crack the safe... that is, until he hears another person enter the house.

I really like the concept in the story. A thief getting caught in a sadistic web of torture in a home that was supposed to be empty. The story plays out like a tense game of hide and seek with fatal consequences. The story starts off immediately with Arkin's working on the Chase home. He visits his wife and daughter after work only to find his wife frustrated due to her immense debt. Arkin's takes matters into his own hands and sets up what should've been a simple yet rewarding job. However, another large, masked man shows up at the home. This is where the hide and seek takes place as Arkin swiftly moves around the home dodging the masked man and the many brutal traps that have been set-up in the home; concurrently, Arkin tries to save the Chase family who apparently never left. I haven't seen anything like it, and it's much more original than the barrage of Saw and Paranormal Activity films that were/are sent out annually.

The horror in this film consists of a few loud-music scares, some high tension, and excessive gore and torture; teeth are removed, mouths are stitched, bodies are shredded and stabbed; firearms, knives, electricity, and box cutters are also used, along with other instruments of torture. The home invasion begins after the first 20 minutes or so; the first act is used to introduce the Chase family, Arkin and his family, and his problem. Afterward, the film takes place in the Chase home. The major problem in The Collector is the lack of explanation, or possible holes, and poor writing choices.

First, I was wondering how so many intricate traps and home modifications were set-up so quickly without Arkin noticing. Also, the Collector, the villain in the film, definitely has a great design sporting a mask and glowing eyes; however, he lacks explanation, as well. I like his ambiguity, but wished for at least some background. Second, the story moves along solely because of stupid, illogical character choices, such as doing something they're told specifically not to do; if the characters had any intelligence, the film would've been completely different. It feels like lazy writing.

The acting was on par with similar horror films; not bad at all, really. Josh Stewart plays Arkin in a very controlled performance; he's not over the top or bland, just right for this character and I'd actually like to see more of him. I like the cinematography in this film, the use of lighting and grain are effective in creating its dark, gritty atmosphere. The special effects are great, gore-hounds will definitely enjoy the brutal violence. Personally, a scene where Arkin gets his hand stuck in between several box cutters had me cringing due to the realism and excessive blood.

Overall, The Collector is a good horror film. The original concept, however, is held back by the lazing writing. If you can excuse it's holes, like I did for some, you'll find a brutal, tense, and entertaining horror film. I recommend a purchase for fans of the genre, a rental otherwise.

Score: 7/10 
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, nudity (a strip club scene)

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