Director: Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Josh Stewart, Karley Scott Collins, Juan Fernandez
Release: Summer 2009
Horror fans rejoice! The Collector is an American-style horror/thriller that brings in several keystone elements of the genre and overlays them on a story that reminds you of one of those too-weird-to-be-true stories that were popular several decades ago.
Arkin (Josh Stewart) desperately needs money. It is supposed to be for his wife who owes money to loan sharks but it could have easily been several other problematic debts. He determines the best way to obtain the dough is to rob one of his customers, a jewel broker who lives in a secluded country house. Arkin is a handyman and has been working on the family's house for a while and has ascertained the owner has a jewel in a safe that will more than repay his wife's debt.
This is the point of the movie things just start getting bizarre. His plan to rob the safe is interrupted when he discovers another intruder in the house with much more sinister plans. Sinister as in torture and intricate booby traps. Now Arkin doesn't seem like such a bad guy but more like the only hope this poor family has for survival.
The synopsis tells you of the booby-trapped house and whatnot, but as I was swimming further into this flick I was thinking one thing: Saw. And then after the movie I read this tidbit:
"Originally titled The Midnight Man, the script was originally intended to be a Saw prequel, but the producers were against the idea and quickly dismissed it." source via Wiki
SPOILERS AND WTF? RAMBLINGS AHEAD!
I really enjoyed the aspect that this wasn't a ripoff of the Saw franchise but was cut from the same cloth. The viewer is treated to a labyrinth of deadly traps and a cool birds-eye-view depiction of the cat and mouse game that is Arkin eluding The Collector. It was as if they cut off the roof of the house and we see Arkin darting through various rooms while The Collector is investigating.
The only hangup I had with this movie, albeit a 700-pound gorilla sized hangup, was the set-up for the whole movie. We are to believe all this takes place in one day, which starts with Arkin and others working on the house before the family leaves on vacation. Later in the night, Arkin comes back to rob the place only to be ambushed with the endless booby traps. Think Home Alone but the trap expert has ten times the budget and twenty times the direction.
The reason I say this is because we see the family has clearly been kidnapped and tied up, which would essentially make the traps useless. The only thing I can think of is he kidnapped the family as they were departing for vacation, brought them back and turned their house into a live action Mouse Trap.
That kind of makes sense, but it is also clear The Collector has no idea where the two daughters are, whether somewhere in the large house or out doing teenage stuff, like hazing in the cornfields. Either way, his angle was to keep things contained or from keeping intruders out, which really says something about his kidnapping self-esteem.
The acting was nothing special but appropriate for the setting. The little girl reminded me of Dakota Fanning and the killer kept us in suspense with his sweeping movements and creepy mask. A nod goes to Josh Stewart for pulling off the down-on-his-luck country boy turned hero role. Upon first seeing Stewart in the movie I had recognized him immediately as the guy who knocked up my favorite character on Criminal Minds, Agent Jennifer Jareau, lopping off about 500 joules off her hotness factor. To say I already hated the protagonist because of this wouldn't be a lie.
Fans of realistic horror will more than likely enjoy this film. It has a little bit of everything--gore in moderation, the quick set-up with disposable characters, the who-dunnit factor, and excess female nudity. I have to say I enjoyed the ending mostly because it was unexpected. Far too many times these endings are like that of a rollercoaster where you are gently shuffled back to whence you came and think that because of the oh-so-many zany twists and turns you experienced throughout the ride you need a cooling off...
but that's why they call this guy "The Collector."