Horror movies are a genre that has a much smaller fan base than action/adventure/sci-fi, but those who embrace such movies are loyal and very critical. They know what they want: the suspense, the terror, the jump-in-your-seat moments, the gore. Things like character development can go by the wayside, and although humor is allowed, it should be of the macabre variety.
“The Collection” is not playing to packed houses, but those who do attend expect a grisly, unnerving trip, and there it is. The movie is a sequel to the 2009 slice-n-dice indulgence “The Collector.” There was a survivor in that movie, Arkin, and he is back, not necessarily wanting for more, as he is forced to re-experience this mess.
“The Collector-Collection” movies have elements of the “Saw” franchise, which is to be expected, as writer-director Marcus Dunstan and his collaborator Patrick Melton guided that latter three “Saw” films, V, VI and 3D. Unlike Jigsaw of the “Saw” series, who went after people whom he saw as worthy of punishment and put them through physical and psychological torture, “The Collection” features a silent killer with a full-head mask, like something out of Luche Libre, whose motives are unknown.
“The Collection” begins with a jolting scene in which a man, Mr. Peters (Christopher McDonald), apparently just widowed, is trying to comfort his young daughter Elena, promising to be there to care for her. Then their vehicle gets T-boned and everything goes black. Next there is a montage of grim visuals and sound bytes of news reports on the mysterious disappearances of dozens of people, apparently abducted by the same person, a crime spree that supposedly has the entire city opting to stay home and secured inside.
Among those missing is Arkin (Josh Stewart), who had his run-in with the collector in the 2009 film. Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) now appears, having grown into a young woman. She is at home when she receives a phone call from her boyfriend, who claims he cannot see her this night because he has to work. She knows he’s lying but she cuts him slack. Next, she receives a call from Missy (Johanna Braddy), the typical bad-influence friend who talks Elena into going to a party. Elena sneaks out easily as Dad is snoozing in the living room.
Missy drives them to a party in an old warehouse, one of those crowded, noisy affairs, where Elena, naturally, runs into her boyfriend smooching with another woman. This is the extent of the Elena story, just enough to make her sympathetic. But Elena has little time to vent tears. This party suddenly turns into slaughterhouse, thanks to the collector.
One of the draws of such explicit horror films is the different and creative ways people are dispatched, and the collector’s mode of wiping out a roomful of partying young people indicates he could have channeled his energies into developing harvesting equipment.
Before the killfest ensues, Elena seeks privacy in a room where she encounters a trunk that obviously has someone locked inside. She opens it and out spills Arkin, who is a bloody mess. Having endured the collector’s sadistic shenanigans, Arkin is bent on escaping and while he makes his getaway amid the mass murder, the collector seizes Elena, stuffs her into a trunk and transports her away.
The hospitalized Arkin finds himself not dealing with police, but with a squad of mercenary operatives, hired by Peters and led by Lucello (Lee Tergesen), who force Arkin to take them to the collector’s headquarters, which of course turns out to be an old abandoned hotel. Arkin warns Lucello that the place is booby-trapped throughout and although initially promised he could walk away once he gains the group access inside the old building, Arkin learns that Lucello is reneging on the deal, forcing the man to tag along to help them locate Elena.
The young woman, meanwhile, has been resourceful enough to liberate herself from the trunk and is attempting to negotiate an escape.
So the blueprint is laid out. Elena is trying to break out of the building without being impaled or piecemealed by the various sharp-edged traps the collector has set. Meanwhile, Lucello and his squad, and the reluctant Arkin, also face certain death if they do not watch what they are doing in their search for Elena. Oh, and the collector also is stomping around, not too happy Elena has slipped away.
The artistry of horror movies such as “The Collection” is in the special effects, which are pulled off despite some very small budgets. Articles in horror genre magazines like Horrorhound, Rue Morgue and Fangoria often delve into the creative ways FX people recreate such gruesome scenes.
Horror films can explore psychological terror and phobias. They can chill with their suspense and exploit fear of the unknown. Or they can, like “The Collection,” just hammer the viewers with overt terror. Those who opt for these kind of no-holds-barred visual assaults should not be disappointed by “The Collection.”