Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Collector (2009)

Directed by Marcus Dunstan.
2009. Rated R, 90 minutes.
Josh Stewart
Juan Fernandez
Michael Reilly Burke
Andrea Roth
Karley Scott Collins
Daniella Alonso
Madeline Zima

Ex-con Arkin (Stewart) is doing some work on the home of the Chase family. When his wife informs him she and their little girl are taking off to get away from the loan shark she owes money to, he tells her to hold her horses and he’ll get the money by midnight.

Now that you’ve wasted a few precious seconds reading the previous paragraph, you can file it away in your mental recycle bin. It doesn’t really matter to the movie other than as an excuse to get him into the Chase house after hours where he hopes to crack the family safe and steal enough valuables to save his wife’s hiney. Sounds pretty important, right? Forget about the safe, just know that he breaks into the house.

What’s the important part, you ask? When he gets there, he soon discovers that someone else has already broken in. Apparently, this other dude has been there all day long, at least. Not only does he have various family members bound and beaten to within an inch of their lives but he’s also boobie-trapped almost every room in the house. We’re not talking a bucket of water over a doorway, here. He’s got a few dozen bear traps set in one room, a floor covered in goo in another, a couple windows turned into guillotines, other windows and doors boarded up, rusty nails sticking out of the stairs…and…I’m pretty sure I’m missing something. You’d think the guy had a movie crew helping him.

Most of our time is spent watching Arkin sneak around trying to avoid the other guy, whom we have to assume is “The Collector” because that’s the title of the movie, and get out of the house. Along the way, Arkin nearly gets decapitated or otherwise maimed and stumbles across dead and nearly dead family members. Well, the littlest Chase, Hannah (Collins), is unharmed because the bad guy can never find her in those spots where she would’ve quickly lost to other kids in a game of hide-and-seek. Of course, that’s the case. You know we hate to see kids hurt in movies. At least that’s the case when it comes to little kids. Teenagers? Kill ‘em all! Oh, yeah…The Collector, that’s what I’m watching, right?

Anyway, we have no idea who this other guy is or what he wants other than to put a hurtin’ on some folks. Eventually, we’re sort of told as one of those almost dead people blurts out the killer’s motive. How exactly does the victim know this? I can’t assume the killer told him, that dude doesn’t talk. His mom isn’t hanging around to fill us in on what the camp counselors allowed to happen to him. There’s no group of parents that burned him alive, years ago nor anyone from whatever mental institution he’s obviously escaped from to recount what he did to his sister. I guess he has telepathic gifts, or the victim has the ability to learn by osmosis. Now, I’m rambling.

I ramble when a movie pisses me off. There’s little to no setup, reason or even a decent payoff. It’s just random, but not in the way random killings can be terrifying, just plain old random. It’s truly as if the boogeyman jumped out of the closet with no humanity beneath his odd looking mask, aside from a strange predilection for bugs, and no past to draw pain from. As idiotic as you might think Friday the 13th movies are, there is some sort of logic at work, however twisted. Here, there is none. It’s just an hour and a half of boobie traps, torture and murder that is occasionally visually stimulating but not nearly enough to overcome our sheer confusion. And it has the nerve to end by threatening us with the possibility of a sequel! Legend has it, this was originally intended to be a chapter in the Saw franchise, but the powers that be rejected it. I can see why.

The Opposite View: John Anderson, Variety

What the Internet Says: 6.1/10 on imdb.com (9/14/10), 28% on rottentomatoes.com, 29/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 3.5/10

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