Massawyrm Loves Loves THE COLLECTOR!! (First Review Of Film Anywhere?)
Published at: July 11, 2009, 4:05 p.m. CST by quint
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Horror is in a very weird place right now. After the major resurgence of traditional horror early in this decade, we’ve seen a the steady decline of the genre as great, original films get muscled out by an overabundance of horror (and J-horror) remakes, sequels and special effect driven ghost stories. So when something new and original comes your way - especially one in English - it is worth sitting up and taking notice. Such is the case with THE COLLECTOR. While on the surface it might appear to be your traditional masked killer send up (which is probably how it managed its way into financing) it is anything but ordinary. In fact, it’s quite a tense, brutal, nail-biter of a modern thriller/horror film.
The setup is simple. A down on his luck jewel thief who has been casing the house of a rich jeweler for several weeks gets put in a bind and he is forced to go in early. He has until midnight to snag the jewels and turn them over to a local fence before something very bad happens to his wife. Unfortunately for him, he’s not the only one who has been casing the family. As it turns out, a masked killer has trapped the family in their home and is killing them one by one…and he doesn’t know the jewel thief is there. The film rapidly becomes a cat and mouse game of one highly skilled man trapped inside a booby trapped home trying desperately to evade detection from a deranged madman.
What sets this film apart from the usual fare is its focus on the one man. Rather than the usual pack of victims running from deathtrap to deathtrap, this is about a character we never get to see in this kind of film all on his own and trying -- on occasion -- to be a good guy. But he’s not a good guy. At the end of the day he has to make a choice, and that choice starts with him trying to rob this house to begin with. While many of the standard horror archetypes find their way into the story, this is far removed from the stream of tight t-shirt wearing teenagers trying to figure out what’s going on while their friends get hacked to pieces.
This is the first film entirely written and directed by Marcus Dunstan, who many of you may remember from the final season of Project Greenlight. Both he and his partner Patrick Melton, who have worked together on the FEAST films, SAW IV-VI and have taken passes at a huge chunk of the horror films floating around out there, wrote the script pretty much free of the system that has been so abusive to their work in the past. What Marcus does with a modest budget here is fantastic - it is one of those efforts that whets your appetite for seeing what he can do with $20 Million horror. But despite the budget, there are a number of great effects and some fantastic cinematography that succeeds in giving the film a bigger, moodier feel than most low budget slasher films.
If Marcus made one mistake it was the choice of lighting in a few scenes of the film. There are a couple of moments that were lit in exactly the same fashion as the SAW films. And coupled with the fact that he’s written on the last half of the series, there are going to be a number of unfair comparisons to the Saw series. I would compare it to SAW, except that this is smarter, sharper and far more interesting than any of those films have ever been, and frankly is playing in a different league. While this comparison might play well with the beer and pretzels crowd, the geeks who are going to most appreciate the originality of the film might be turned off by the similarities.
Very much a post-torture-porn horror film, the camera never lingers. It is horror that relishes in the brutality of the kill rather than forcing the audience to endure the awfulness of the torture. This has some great devious kills - a few of which are just downright evil. At times it is as mean as a junkyard dog to its characters, but does so with pathos and some seriously fucked up moments.
The masked killer is also fairly interesting. Unlike most unnamed masked killers, THE COLLECTOR allows its killer to be seen both as deliberately human (rather than the normal, sluggish, seemingly indestructible stalking creep we’re accustomed to) and gives him an effectively creepy visage that won’t let you take your eyes off of him for a moment when he’s onscreen.
When all is said and done, THE COLLECTOR is a taut, tightly constructed thriller that slowly morphs into a brutal, scary horror film that had my wife yelling at the screen and did a great job of getting me to cover my mouth when it properly crossed the line. Loads of fun and much smarter than we’ve come to expect from the genre, this is exactly the kind of film horror fans will delight in discovering. THE COLLECTOR sees a respectably large release on JULY 31st.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.