CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT Presents:
THE COLLECTION (2012)
Review by L.L. Soares
(THE SCENE: an abandoned hotel full of cobwebs. L.L. SOARES is climbing the stairs using a flashlight)
LS: I’m starting to think MICHAEL ARRUDA isn’t here at all. I’m sure this is all a prank.
(His cell phone rings, playing Bernard Herrmann’s music from the shower scene of PSYCHO)
MA: LL, is that you? I’ve been waiting for an hour now.
LS: What are you talking about? I’m here now, at the Argento Hotel, just like you told me. I can’t find you anywhere.
MA: Oops, I meant the Argento Steak House. My bad.
LS: That explains a lot.
MA: Well, while I have you on the phone, how was that new movie, THE COLLECTION?
LS: I was just going to start the review. I guess I have to do this one solo.
(SWITCH to Michael Arruda in a restaurant. A waiter brings a delicious meal to his table)
MA (making noises with his mouth): Oh no, I’m having phone problems. LL are you there? I can’t hear you?
LS: Yes, I’m still here.
MA (makes more noises): Oh no, you’re breaking up. I’m going to lose you. (MA shuts off his phone)
LS: Dammit! I hate bad connections. And it always happens when I’m in spooky places like this.
So where was I? Oh yes, I was going to review the new movie THE COLLECTION. I guess I’ve got nothing better to do.
(LS sits down on a comfy chair in the hallway of the old hotel. He brings the flashlight up to his face, turning it on, making himself look spooky)
LS: Gather round the fire, kiddies, and I’ll tell you the spooky story of THE COLLECTION. First off, it’s the sequel to the 2009 movie THE COLLECTOR, which was also directed by Marcus Dunstan. He also co-wrote the screenplays for SAW IV (2007), SAW V (2008) , SAW VI (2009) and SAW 3D: THE FINAL CHAPTER (2010) as well as FEAST (2005) and its sequels, with his writing partner, Patrick Melton. This is a busy guy.
Anyway, in case you didn’t see the first one, it was a about a thief named Arkin (Josh Stewart) who breaks into a house to steal some money and valuables, and instead finds a house of horrors. Someone else has gotten there first, and has turned it into a booby-trapped filled torture chamber, and the family (who was supposed to be on vacation) suffers horribly at the hands of a masked murderer known only as The Collector. They call him that because, whenever he attacks someplace, he kills everyone except one person, who he kidnaps for his “collection.”
The first movie ended on a suspenseful note, as Arkin was captured by the Collector, and then the end credits rolled.
The new movie, THE COLLECTION, continues where the last one left off. Sort of. This time around, we find out that the Collector has been up to lots of mischief since the last time we saw him. Not only is he making random home invasions, now the number of people he’s killed is off the charts, and the police have no clue how to stop him. The city is in a panic. So what does teenager Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) do? She goes to a rave of course, in an abandoned building that no adults know about. When she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her, she runs away from the dance floor to an empty room, with a trunk in the middle of it. She’s crying when suddenly the trunk moves and starts to make noise! There’s someone inside it. As we know from the previous movie, this is the Collector’s calling card, and if you open a trunk, it puts all kinds of horrible things in motion. So of course, she opens it, letting out Arkin (Josh Stewart again), our hero from the first movie. Only this time he is bloody from having been tortured for weeks.
His being set free sets all kinds of weird traps and pullies in motion, and a giant wheat shredding blade descends on the partiers, chopping them all to mulch. Another group of people, including Elena’s friend, Missy (Johanna Braddy) get locked up in a cage where the ceiling is crushing down on them.
Somehow Arkin escapes, and Elena gets nabbed by the Collector before he can save her. She is the only survivor of the massacre, and, as we know, the Collector always takes one victim away from the crime scene alive.
(LS gets up from the chair, just as a huge metal spike drops down from the ceiling and stabs where he was just sitting)
LS: Arkin wakes up in the hospital, where he is interrogated by a guy named Lucello (Lee Tergesen), who appears to be a cop, but isn’t. He works for Elena’s rich father (Christopher McDonald) and will stop at nothing to find Elena and bring her back to her father. Even if that means forcing Arkin to retrace his steps to find where Elena is being held (he has marks carved in his arm to determine where he was taken to last time).
Lucello and his team of Black Ops agents then invade the Hotel Argento (get the funny homage to horror director Dario Argento?) where the Collector rules over victims driven insane by their horrible treatment and who have been turned into crazed zombie-like creatures. Oh, and there are tons of booby traps and mazes and bear traps and time bombs. Let’s just say that Lucello has no idea what he’s in for, and poor Arkin is forced to go along for the ride, even though he’s endured these particular horrors before.
There are also lots of “collections” throughout the hotel. From the usual butterflies and insects in frames, to giant tanks full of bizarre sculptures made from human body parts.
(LS continues walking down the hallway. Hatchets are hurled at him and keep missing him.)
LS: THE COLLECTION is in limited release and its official release date was December 1st, except that week it was only playing in obscure movie theaters out in the ‘burbs, so I couldn’t see it. This weekend, it got a slightly wider release and made its way into the city. Because I enjoyed the first movie, I was looking forward to seeing this one, so I made sure to check it out before it disappeared.
Let me state something for the record. I like “torture porn.” That might be the first time you have ever seen a critic say this out loud in public, but the truth is, when the genre is done right, it can be pretty compelling. I think the first two HOSTEL movies, for example, are terrific. I was less-than-enthusiastic about all the SAW movies, because I had a problem with the Jigsaw character.
You see, our old friend Jigsaw had this agenda where his elaborate murder scenarios were meant to give the bad people who survived them a second chance. He was trying to change their lives. He was trying to redeem them, by making them thankful to be alive. This was all a bit hard to swallow, and I’m sure you found this all to be as much bullshit as I did. Also, Jigsaw didn’t like to get his hands dirty and watched the violence from a control room. His “victims” had to make decisions about which door to open, or which lever to pull, while he watched from safety.
The Collector isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He is more than happy to resort to hand-to-hand combat when his more elaborate methods don’t finish everyone off. He’s a skilled fighter, knows his way around a knife fight, and is lethal as hell. And there’s no pontificating about changing people’s lives. The Collector simply thirsts for blood and uses his weird, elaborate killing methods to quench that thirst. Plus, he wears a cool, black Mexican wrestler’s mask to keep his identity a secret. Let’s just say that the Collector would kick Jigsaw’s ass in a fight.
THE COLLECTION is gory as hell. It pushes its R-rating to the limit. And it’s very suspenseful. You never know what is going to happen next, and who will die. Which is just the way a good horror movie should be. Sure, not all of it makes sense, and you really start to wonder how anyone can set up as many crazy booby traps as this guy does throughout the hotel—it just doesn’t seem possible—and then you realize, “hell, it’s just a movie.” And there are lots of blockbuster action movies that make even less sense.
And the cast is top-rate for this kind of thing. Josh Stewart, who was so good in the first movie, does an equally good job here, reprising his role as petty thief and “Collector expert” Arkin. Emma Fitzpatrick is tough and unflinching as Elena (she reminded me a bit of Natalie Portman). Lee Tergeson (who you might remember as Beecher from the HBO series OZ) is solid here as Lucello, and his team of mercenaries includes Andre Royo, who was so great as the homeless guy Bubbles on another excellent HBO series, THE WIRE (it seems like more great actors have come out of OZ and THE WIRE than any other TV shows put together). Believe me, the actors involved are above-average for this kind of thing.
And the ending is actually pretty satisfying this time around. So make sure you stay in your seat until those end credits roll, because there’s a kick-ass epilogue to the story.
(LS stops in front of a doorway, and a pie hurtles at him, hitting him in the face)
LS (wipes cream off his face and licks): Mmmm, banana cream!
Sure there’s horrible violence. Sure, people get tortured. There’s blood and body parts galore. But it works. There’s this incredibly sadistic bastard trying to kill as many people as possible, and a group of people trying their best to stop him. If it’s “torture porn,” and it certainly fits the bill, then it’s one of the better examples of the genre. Unfortunately, the genre itself is in decline, no doubt thanks to all of those SAW movies that amounted to a great big example of overkill. They milked that cash cow as long as they could. So there’s a good chance THE COLLECTION might be the end of this particular franchise.
I am not expecting THE COLLECTION to be a big hit. In fact, I’m sure it won’t do very well at all, especially since it’s in such limited release. But I’m telling you, if you’re not squeamish about this kind of stuff, you might just enjoy the hell out of it. I know I did.
I give THE COLLECTION ~ four bloody knives.
(LS dials his cell phone, and Michael Arruda picks up on the other end, enjoying his steak dinner)
LS: I know you gave me the wrong info on purpose. I hope you’re enjoying your dinner.
MA: Er…I am.
LS: And I hope you enjoyed the ground up glass in the mashed potatoes.
MA (touches his mouth and coughs up blood): NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
LS: What? I can’t hear you. We have a bad connection.
(FADE TO BLACK)
© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares
LL Soares gives THE COLLECTION ~ four knives!