Even though Halloween is almost a month over and now should be the time for some snow or Christmas-based articles, there’s still time to cover a few alternative movies (and games), especially since I watched many horror flicks in preparation for the season of the witch, including the two very different The Collector and The Collection.
(USA 2009, director: Marcus Dunstan)
An ex-con plans to rob a house he fixed the windows and doors for as a contractor, only to find out that he’s not alone that night, with a psychopath setting up traps for those people he wants or doesn’t want to collect.
The term torture porn has been used so many times, especially in connection with the Saw series, but when does it apply? Is it really just about seeing people suffer in devious traps set by a psychopath for no other reason than his amusement? In the case of The Collector it really seems that way, as everything points to the inevitable suffering-is-cool theme.
The problem with horror movies which try too hard to be disgusting and sick is that if it’s all about this forced cool execution without much of a plot and characters to care about, then it’s difficult to feel anything. Of course many slashers (like the Friday the 13th series) have suffered from this, but it hasn’t been this prominent as in The Collector.
The director desperately tries to make it terrifying and cool at the same time with one of the most annoyingly loud and monotonously pounding soundtracks and torture scenes which are done with characters who’re just as shallow as the plot. What’s even more disappointing is that the Collector himself and the way he uses traps doesn’t make much sense, either. It’s great to have a villain who doesn’t speak, and some of the vicious traps are quite imaginative, but unlike the Saw series, there isn’t any point to them. Setting them up in various rooms with most of the people already captured feels like a missed opportunity or simply dumb.
It’s not all bad, though, as there’s something tense about the closed space the unlikely hero and villain move about. But it’s simply not enough for roughly 90 minutes, with the first 20 or so spent with unlikable characters and the rest only mildy suspenseful, because one wishes that the shallow main character finally gets caught. It’s not even that the Collector is the iconic guilty pleasure as in so many slashers. His raison d’etre to simply collect people is barely enough to make him that memorable, just like the movie.
(USA 2012, director: Marcus Dunstan)
A man who escaped the horrible fate of being added to the human collection of a psychopathic killer has to return to his place of operation with a group of mercenaries to rescue a girl.
Now what happened here? After a terribly forced example of torture porn, the sequel turns out to be one of the best slasher horror movie seen in a long time. Even if the characters aren’t that memorable, it isn’t so much a problem here, as it was in the predecessor, mainly because the audience doesn’t get the chance to get to know them before they’re already disposed of.
It’s difficult to be really innovative in the slasher genre, and while plot and character development are neglected, the death scenes are much more elaborate, but fortunately don’t rely on the tiring torture scenario. It still has those, mind, but the way the Collector gets rid of his enemies or those he doesn’t find worthy to add to his obscure collection, is often mindblowingly awesome, in a sick and twisted way of course.
Whereas other horror movies have a boring 20 or 30 minutes, The Collection shows one of the bloodiest scenes with the highest bodycount possible, and it doesn’t stop there. There are many suspenseful moments, but also lots of action, all accompanied by a greatly improved orchestral soundtrack. Whereas other horror movies have a boring middle or disappointing ending, The Collector cranks the violence up to eleven with one breathtaking scene following the other. It’s just too bad that the open ending hasn’t spawned a sequel yet, as this entry surely deserves one.
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