The Collection (2012)
★ / ★★★★
When Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) catches her boyfriend, who had called less than an hour earlier with an excuse to cancel their plans for the evening, making out with another girl in a club, she punches him in the face, leaves him with a bloody nose, and storms off the dance floor. She ends up in one of the rooms at the back which happens to have a red trunk inside. To her horror, it begins to shake. Curious as to what it contains, she opens it and out comes a man covered in blood. Concurrently, the young people in the club are killed by rotating blades while those who manage to escape are flattened like pancakes. Amidst the panic, Elena is abducted by The Collector (Randall Archer) while the man covered in blood, Arkin (Josh Stewart), jumps out of the building to escape.
While “The Collection,” written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, is generous when it comes to maiming and killing, it is more disgusting than a suspenseful experience. It does not answer very many questions brought up in the first film, “The Collector,” which makes me question the necessity of the story having to be told in three parts. Although it is not a very good movie, I admit that the last scene made me excited for its conclusion.
When not showing a person getting stabbed or limbs being chopped off, the film results to usual tricks in the horror genre. For instance, when a desperate character peers through a hole, we expect the eye of someone from the other side to appear within five seconds. This is supposed to be scary but it just comes off lazy. Another example that is equally cliché but more tolerable is when a character faces two possible courses of action but is pressured into taking one before thinking things through because the killer’s footsteps can be heard from a few feet away. It holds no excitement or thrill.
The well-placed traps have more personality than the team hired to break into the Collector’s hotel of horrors and rescue the girl. With the exception of Arkin, who has kindly decided to help them to a point, and the leader of the pack, Lucello (Lee Tergesen), everyone feels like he or she is there only to be killed in the most gruesome ways. As their number dwindles down, it feels like a death march to the inevitable final confrontation.
There is one scene that stands above the rest but only to an extent. There is nothing original about the protagonist being in a room with flickering lights as the antagonist moves closer from behind. And yet it works here because I was reminded by its predecessor’s ability to make me squirm in my seat. As he was in the first film, Stewart has such a wonderful presence about him. He is able to exude a balance of toughness and vulnerability which makes us want to root for him. We care what happens to his character not just because he is a potential victim or we do not want to see another person scream in pain.
Directed by Marcus Dunstan, “The Collection” tries to expand its universe by showing more visually. This feels like a most shallow approach, not at all dissimilar to action picture sequels that do everything bigger and badder but are ultimately more hollow. If the writers had focused more on the characters, like giving us more information about Elena other than she is from a rich family and hinting at why the Collector is driven to do the things he does, it might have had a semblance of creativity aside from the by the numbers splatter.