Sunday, 19 September 2010

Collectors Item

The Collector

‘‘He collects people !’’

A professional burglar, desperately trying to start a new life for himself, has to trade tricks for a past underground criminal fixer in order to help his estranged wife and daughter. The mother of his sweet young child owes money to a loan shark, and the debt is about to be called in, one way or another. In order to spare them from harm, Arkin must undertake a big paying job to settle his wife’s debt. Working as a repair man at a large family home, he has cased the property, and knows that the owner has a large gemstone of some value locked within his safe.

Arkin’s last day on the job, along with a team of pest control exterminators, is also the day that the family are preparing to be away for a while. With his wife’s debt due to be called in Arkin has until midnight to revert back to his previous profession as a burglar, and purloin the precious gem in order to collect a forty percent cash reward, fencing it to his bullish fixer. A simple plan, simply executed for a highly skilled burglar not long out of the full time criminal game. That night, upon his return to what he believes is an empty house, is one that no one could ever prepare for … no one could … no one but ... The Collector !.

Hostel (2005) in a house is unleashed upon the home owner, his wife, teenage daughter and youngest daughter by a mysterious man. His face hidden behind a tight fitting mask, reminiscent of a Mexican wrestlers, hand tied and taught behind the skull. Whatever machinations are afoot are soon very apparent as Arkin is caught up in a myriad of deadly traps, designed not to keep intruders out, but victims inside !. The masked marauder is oblivious to his unseen nemesis, as he sets about torturing the occupants of the house, clearly stopped from going on their intended trip. What follows is a night of torture and quite gruesome flesh flailing. Not an iota of scene spoiling CGI fake blood is on display here, just free flowing icky ooziness of the el vino variety.
Arkin is caught between helping the family and saving his own life, as escaping from the trap laden home proves to be nigh on impossible. All manner of body puncturing implements lace the very fabric of the house interior, from floor to ceiling. Fine wire intricately threads between a door frame, virtually unnoticeable in the dark environment, upturned nails line the steps upon the hallway stairs, set bear traps adorn the living room floor, razor blades imbed the boarded up windows, as painfully discovered early on by Arkin as he attempts to flee with the valuable item he came for. A clue to this pernicious perpetrators ideology is uncovered in the closet of the master bedroom, where Arkin seeks momentary refuge, as a large hinged box reveals its contents of a bloodied and beaten man. The petrified man is barely conscious or legible, but he warns that the intruder is a collector … of people !?.

Arkin cannot allow the man to be free of his confine for fear of alerting the intruder of his own presence, and so seals him back within the box’s containment. With the cries of pain, and the screams of terror, from the owners of the house ringing out through the connecting cavity vents, Arkin asses his position and looks for a way to help them, and find a way out !. The inventiveness of the intruders cruelty takes no prisoners as the family pet cat discovers to its pitiful demise. An upstairs bedroom floor layered with a caustic glue substance eats away at the hapless creatures fur, burning its way into its skin. The pussy cats ultimate end though comes when Arkin desperately strives to free it from its undoubted death knell, only to propel the startled animal into a window that is booby trapped as a guillotine. Animal welfare activists will doubtlessly re-watch this scene over and over again and seek proof positive that no actual harm came to this poor unfortunate cat, as the degree of realism here is pretty darned startling !.

The torrent of nastiness continues unabated as the teenage daughter returns home with lustful boyfriend, who is soon introduced to the intruder and says hello to his little friends the bear traps !. One minute the boyfriend is fondling his girls ample breasts, and the next he snaffled himself by bone snapping implements even more highly sensitive to touch. This is indeed grisly stuff !.

Arkin is desperate to save at least the young girl of the family, having witnessed the demise of the others, and somehow catch the intruder up within one of his own traps. It’s cat and mouse as the intruder is now fully aware of his unexpected competitor, and the knives are out, literally !.

To pull off a ninety minute violent thriller with the construct of a fairly basic premise with such extraordinary aplomb here is incredible. The pace of the movie never flounders, and the motif behind the masked intruders maniacal onslaught is intriguingly withheld right up to the cataclysmic conclusion. A modern incarnation of a new movie ‘monster’ is perhaps born with The Collector. A nigh on unstoppable force of evil intent, yet certainly not super human, but with an agenda that is tantalisingly linked only by his calling card of a person held within a restraining box.
The Collector is a brutal barrage to the senses, yet invasively hypnotic as its carnage spews out the intent to shock but also to intrigue. You, like Arkin want, nay need, to know who this guy is, and why he is doing what he does. Is he a cold hearted evil psychopath, or an exacting architect of retribution !?. There are questions to be answered come closure, not that the viewer is left deflated in any way at all, indeed there is but anticipation of a continuation to this story, as The Collector closes another of his containment boxes shut upon its occupant !.

Movie Rating: 7/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source Region 1 NTSC DVD

The Collector (2009)
Director Marcus Dunstan
With Josh Stewart, Juan Fernández, Madeline Zima,
Andrea Roth & Robert Wisdom


  1. You are absolutely right: Killer horror flick. I'm a big supporter of practical effects over CGI.

  2. I'll take old school props & makeup over CGI everytime.
    I hope we get to see more of Juan Fernandez on the back of this as well as he delivers a very menacing & believeable villain here.

  3. Effects aside, I found the film to be a pretentious and overstylized mess. I was super disappointed!