Director: Marcus Dunstan
Starring: William Prael, Diane Ayala Goldner, Juan Fernandez, Josh Stewart, Michael Reilly Burke
He always takes one
Arkin O’Brien is an ex-criminal who is trying to do good and make money legally. He is working as a handyman for the Chase family, a comfortable family of four who has recently moved into a nice big house.
Arkin’s ex-wife has a huge debt at a loan shark and Arkin has only a day to fix this problem to keep her and their little daughter safe. He finds no other way out of this problem then to resolve to his old ways and rob the house of the Chase family while they are away for the weekend. However, he is not the only intruder in the house tonight, someone else is in the house to collect something way more valuable than money.
The Collector almost became a prequel to the popular Saw franchise when the production company Twisted got their hands on it while the script was called The Midnight Man and they were looking for new writers to continue the Saw saga after the third movie. Even though it didn’t turn out to become a part of the Saw work, screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan still ended up writing Saw 4-6 and kept this script around to finally see it turn into a movie in 2009.
It is easy to see the similarities between The Collector and the Saw movies. It has a very simple story and rely mostly on putting the character(s) up to the task of avoiding the traps. I was never a huge fan of the Saw films, so I wasn’t surprised to not find myself enjoying this one too much either. I found the setup to be way over the top and ridiculous. Sometimes you buy into the small stuff, but I just couldn’t buy that this guy had been able to set up all these elaborate booby traps in such a short amount of time. And why did he do it? What gave him so much pleasure in seeing the victims fall on these traps that it would make it worth his while?
We learn nothing about the killer and while that might work at times, he became a bore to me here. There might be a reason why he isn’t explained very much with some suggestions of a plot twist at the end, but if that was intentional then it isn’t done very well and few will be able to spot it. The characters aren’t given much development either and it’s almost as if you are supposed to be happy when they fall to these traps since it will deliver some blood and guts to the screen. The only one I thought had potential was Jill, played by the very beautiful Madeline Zima. She at least seemed to have some natural charisma that makes it enjoyable to see her on the screen.
Even though it has a very flawed and simple script with some boring characters and a dull killer, it is still done with a good pace and some tension filled scenes. It doesn’t become boring, there’s enough torture to keep gorehounds happy and the visuals aren’t too bad either. It might be enough for some of the horror fans these days, but it was not enough to give me a happy feeling after experiencing this film.
The Collector might be a good film for those who already love the Saw franchise. For others, it is a film that is ok to watch, but not something I would recommend or probably even remember a few years ahead of now. It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t have many things going for it either.