Studio: LD Entertainment
Director: Marcus Dunstan
Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Producer: Mickey Liddell, Jennifer Hilton, Julie Richardson, Brett Forbes, Patrick Rizzotti
Stars: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick, Christopher McDonald, Lee Tergesen, Andre Royo, Navi Rawat, Randall Archer
Desperate to locate a missing girl, a specialized assault team uses The Collector’s only known survivor to lead them on a raid of the killer’s deadly lair.
The fastest way to review this movie is to show the posters for “The Collector” and “The Collection” side-by-side. Even they know that the sequel is just more of the same. Except bluer.
NOTE: There must have been an issue with the original poster (below) that probably necessitated a quick fix from the Marketing team’s Art Department. But still…
“Saw” and “The Collector/Collection” have always had an incestuous relationship. “The Collector” (review here) was once briefly considered for reworking as a Jigsaw origin story. The screenplay for “The Collector” also helped writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan land the scriptwriting job on Saw IV-VII. The two franchises even share more than their traps and tone. Now they are sharing crew lists, too.
Like the first film, “The Collection” does not make much effort to step out of the Saw series’ shadow. In addition to his work here, composer Charlie Clouser wrote the music for all seven Saw films, which includes the memorable “Hello Zepp” theme. And “The Collection” editor Kevin Greutert pulled similar duty on the first five Saw films before directing the last two. There is nothing unusual about crewing up with people you know, and I’m sure Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan were already familiar with these men from their mutual work on the Saw franchise. But by hiring two men largely responsible for the pacing and sound of the Saw movies, you are not going to move too far away from the criticism of being a clone.
The main premise of “The Collection” is that instead of the killer stalking his victims, an assault team tasked to find a missing girl turns the tables by stalking the killer. That could have been an interesting approach, except that it never fully follows through. The assault team becomes trapped in The Collector’s lair almost immediately and then has to find and fight their way out. There is no difference between that setup and one in which The Collector had laid out traps in a building they already knew.
“The Collection” then starts throwing out new ideas before subsequently throwing them away. Early on it is revealed that The Collector has been frying the brains of several victims and turning them into rabid creatures not unlike the infected in “28 Days Later.” After the first horde of these mutations is promptly dispatched, they never appear again for the remainder of the film. The kidnapped girl at the center of the search befriends another victim who looks to have been cast in some weird fantasy scenario for The Collector. This girl cryptically alludes to some kind of test or game being played (shades of Jigsaw), but it never materializes into anything more than a routine cat-and-mouse chase.
What are these tossed out ideas replaced with? Rehashes of things already seen in the first film.
Remember that scene in “The Collector” when the killer sends a dog after Arkin and the girl he is trying to rescue? The Collector does it again here, except now he sends two dogs. He also sends them against four people though, and the only reason the dogs live longer than five seconds is because the scene is in slow motion.
Remember when The Collector put a tape recording of screaming in the dead mother’s hand to act as a lure in the first film? He does that one again, too. Technically, I suppose it is different this time since it is actually a speaker and not a tape recorder. And what’s that? Are those bear traps?
At least The Collector demonstrates a consistent modus operandi, not to mention a keen economical sense for reusing devices he employed the last time around. That just does not make for a compelling viewing experience when I end up watching restagings of scenes already shown in the previous installment.
Something that has changed this time around is the portrayal of The Collector, although not for the better. Juan Fernandez played the murderous mastermind as nimble. His moves were very deliberate, as they should be for someone who puts that much planning into booby-trapping three complete floors of a home. Even with Arkin as the unexpected X-factor in his plans, he still had an air of confidence and calculated intensity. Randall Archer’s version in “The Collection” is much more comfortable going with brute force over a tricky machination. Not only content with barreling ahead fists first into more than one physical confrontation, The Collector is also not above using an assault rifle to take out victims. This impression lacks the finesse displayed in the original.
The rest of this review can be cut-and-pasted from my review of “The Collector” (just like the poster). Character development is limited exclusively to extremely brief moments, which is not surprising when considering that the end credits begin rolling only 75 minutes after the movie’s start. This calls attention to the notion that like its predecessor, story exists only to move things as fast as possible from one kill scene to the next.
Arkin pleads with his wife to leave town for her own safety, never once mentioning anything about their daughter who featured somewhat prominently in the first film. Christopher McDonald has a pointlessly brief role (more like a cameo) as the father of the missing girl at the center of the plot. An end scene intended to be emotional has no weight because he had too little screen time for the audience to even care about his character.
The script for “The Collection” is mostly a framework to give FX artist Gary J. Tunnicliffe and the Production Designer a creative outlet for interesting setpieces and splattery death scenes. Watching an entire dance floor of raving teenagers explode into crimson mist as a threshing machine grinds every last one of them will keep your eyes on the screen (or make you turn away if you are squeamish for that sort of thing). It is the film equivalent of a Milky Way bar or a Coca-Cola. Somewhat enjoyable as a guilty indulgence, but really just empty calories with no nutritional value. Without the gory eye candy, there is nothing fleshing out the movie’s bones. If “The Collector” failed to make an impact, you can safely skip “The Collection” and not notice a difference in your horror movie-watching life.
Review Score: 35