Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Collection (2012)

A bizarre serial killer called The Collector (Randall Archer) has made his way into a sequel. His modus operandi sees him locking up a group of people somewhere and slaughtering them with the help of physics-sceptical death traps as well as more hands-on efforts until only one victim is left. Him or her, he loads into a neat little trunk and carts to his murder castle (quite traditionally situated in an old hotel building named after Dario Argento) where he has fun with torture, drugs, and the creation of modern art of the sort I suspect Rob Zombie would love.

For reasons, the Collector likes to bring an earlier trunked victim to his next crime. Which affords thief Arkin (Josh Stewart), the survivor of the first film I believe, an opportunity to escape the crazyman while he’s killing a horde of teenagers on a warehouse party in various hilarious way. The Collector then trunks survivor Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) and carries her home to have his various ways with her. Elena, it turns out, was not a terribly good choice of victim. She’s a ten out of ten on the Final Girl effectiveness scale, and I’m pretty sure she’d kick the guy’s ass herself rather well.

However, she doesn’t have to do the job alone, because she’s also the child of a very rich father as well as under the protection of a rather effective security guy named Lucello (Lee Tergesen). Lucello convinces Arkin to lead him and a small band of mercenaries (among them Andre Royo and Shannon Kane) to The Collector’s murder palace. Arkin has seen Aliens so he’s not willing to lead Lucello and his people any further than the entry to Collector central but once there, their guns are rather convincing for him to change his mind.

Now they only have to fight their way through a bunch of the killer’s drugged up zombie victims, survive a cornucopia of death traps, and somehow find Elena in this somewhat creepy labyrinth. It’s good for all involved that Elena can take care of herself and that Arkin will find his heroic spirit.

I thought Marcus Dunstan’s The Collector was a pretty useless Saw-alike crossed with a slasher with even less substance, care and style than that series or that genre show; Dunstan’s own sequel, on the other hand, doesn’t just beat the Saw movies by a wide margin but also has a personality of its own. Sure, its personality is stitched together out of the parts of other movies but it’s the right parts put together in the right way, presented with an eye for the lurid and the outrageous.

While nobody – certainly not I - would suggest The Collection to be subtle, it is a rather more clever and coherent film than I expected it to be. Early on, around minute eleven or so, the film establishes that it isn’t taking place anywhere that might be confused with the real world through the rather fun, rather absurd and rather cool party slaughter scene. After that point, one might expect the film to continue to just throw random disjointed crap at its audience but the first fifteen minutes or so actually establish the specific kind of luridness and craziness the film is going for, and Dunstan just follows through for the rest of the movie, turning what by all rights should be a warehouse horror piece about people wandering from one random shock to the next (and dying) into a film that is lurid as hell but also of one piece – while still being all about people wandering through a warehouse, being shocked, and dying.

There’s an unexpected sense of aesthetic coherence on display into which the Collector lair’s Goth Metal cover look and feel fit perfectly well, making sense in context and providing the film with a coherent mood and style, as do the set design and the film’s very un-2012 thoughtful use of colours that reminded me of some of the better bits of 80s horror.

Even the writing works rather well, with the script going out of its way to add surprising little moments where a character’s action comments on other actions that happened before. Clearly a lot of effort is put into keeping the film’s main victims more than just meat for the killer to slaughter; this being the rare slasher film that actually realizes its killer is a right prick. I also very much enjoyed the little bits of action movie cheese that are sprinkled throughout the film, keeping things pleasantly crazy while never going so far as to breaking the established rules of the film’s world.

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