I'd heard plenty about this movie before I got it from Netflix, most of it not too great. But as always, I believe some people's trash is another's treasure. I like to formulate my own opinions and don't care much for being a sheep. That being said, I have just watched The Collector (2009) for the first and last time, barring some horribly boring Saturday night when I'm sick on the couch and can't reach the remote and this movie comes on SyFy to taunt and irritate me.
Okay, so it wasn't that bad. But tell me, did we really need another Saw wannabe? I'm thinking no.
This movie was so un-original, so mundane, that I actually kept hitting the DVD time counter, to see how much time was left.
When I looked on IMDB to see what others thought, I couldn't believe it when I read words like "original", "badass", and "awesome".... Really? I don't think we were watching the same film. Either that or these people did not ever see a Saw movie, or perhaps lost their common sense in a fog of volcanic ash.
Directed by Marcus Dunstan and starring Josh Stewart (whom I knew from guest spots on Criminal Minds - as JJ's baby daddy), The Collector brings absolutely nothing new to the table.
The plot is really so beyond ridiculous. There is a bit of a preamble to the opening titles, in which we have a couple who comes home late at night after quite obviously drinking a bit more than they should have. The wife heads upstairs while hubby finds out the power is out. Wifey calls out, hubby heads upstairs and they find a big red box in their bedroom, not unlike the kind a magician would use on stage to cut the pretty lady in half. Upon opening the box, they get a bit of a surprise when a hand reaches out to them.
Cue opening credits, because NOW we're already scared to death, right?
Ah...not so much.
Now we have the Chase family, in their lovely two-story home that is currently undergoing renovations. Enter Arkin (Stewart), who at the request of Michael Chase, is putting bars on the windows. (WTF?) Arkin observes an exterminator who is finishing up his duties as well.
For some reason, the family is leaving for a vacation - which is, of course what you'd do when you have workers going in and out of your house during construction. Whatever.
Next we see Arkin at a bowling alley, promising his wife (or ex-wife, I'm not sure) that he'll get her money to pay off the loan sharks she apparently owes a hefty sum to. Arkin is an ex-con, so to get the money needed to keep his family out of trouble, he's willing to do what he has to. We find out he has been casing the Chase house and has intentions of stealing a load of jewels (Michael is a jewelry broker) from the Chase residence. Just and in and out kind of job. Easy, since the family is heading out of town and he knows the layout of the house and where the safe is.
So, it's later that night and Arkin heads over to the Chase's, all decked out in typical petty theft gear, complete with black mask. Once he gains entry, heads to the master bedroom, and is all but into the safe, he hears something downstairs. Upon investigation, he finds another masked man has already broken into the house and is not only holding Michael and Victoria Chase captive in the basement of their own home, but has set the house up with a bevy of traps (in the tradition of Saw, natch!). Here's where my head started to ache.
The Chase's oldest daughter is evidently out on a date, and the youngest has hidden from the masked maniac, dubbed "THE COLLECTOR!!!". Arkin, at first shocked then later quite disturbed I imagine - at not being the first to break in - is able to avoid being seen by TC (because I don't fancy writing out "THE COLLECTOR!!!" for the duration of the post) and makes an attempt to get out of the house, but the nasty traps prevent him from doing so. He also has a bit of a flash of his family, and knows he has to get that jewelry out of the safe in order to secure their safety.
So he actually heads back to the safe and is working on it again (balls of steel, this dude), all the while knowing TC is somewhere roaming the house, when he hears gut-wrenching screams coming from downstairs. He sneaks down and witnesses Michael, dragging himself out of the basement completely bloody and badly injured. Still hiding, Arkin sees TC shove Michael back down the basement stairs.
At this point, Arkin tries calling 911, unwilling to let the family be tortured. Unfortunately, he doesn't see that the phone has been rigged with a sharp nail of some kind so that when he puts the receiver to his ear it pierces his eardrum. Nice one, TC. Arkin tries to leave through a window but they've not only been boarded up but outfitted with razors that slice into Arkin's hand when he tries to pull his hand back inside.
From here on, it's a big song and dance of absurd and preposterous traps and Arkin trying to save the family's lives. When he finally finagles his way outdoors, he is aghast when he sees the youngest daughter in an upstairs window, calling to him to save her. So back inside he goes.
We witness the older daughter and her date come back to the house, thinking the folks are gone so they'll have the house to themselves to par-tay! That doesn't go as planned, of course.
There's torture galore, though none of it is as devious and complicated as the traps in any of the Saw movies. They are second-rate, and most are nowhere near as macabre as Jigsaw's gadgets.
I mean, fishing hooks dangling from the ceiling. Really? I'm thinking MacGyver could have even done better than that. My favorite though, was the acid all over the floor in one of the rooms. If the acid would burn a person, I'm guessing it would burn through pretty much any kind of flooring. (And I just hated what happened to the cat, okay?)
Bear traps (and not just one, we're talking a floor-full here), nails sticking out of the floor, and more pulley-type devices than you can shake a stick at all make me come to one conclusion.
This shit's for the birds.
Arkin eventually has a revelation that TC was the exterminator that he saw at the house earlier in the day, and that he too, was casing the house and planning his evening. But my question is this: WHY? Why does he do all this shit? We learn early on that the dude is a collector of people. Right. Fine. Whatever. But why can't he just go into a house and freaking take someone? What is up with all the way-out traps and inane torture? He's a sadist, you say!
Sure. Okay. Yeah...that's never been done before.
Forgive me my sarcasm here, but I just couldn't find anything unique or remotely frightening about this one. The first time I saw (the original) Saw, I was blown away. At the intricacy of the complicated and well-thought-out plot. How everything came together in the (completely shocking) end. The pieces of the puzzle fitting into place one by one. And the traps! Uncommon, barbaric, medieval! And for pete's sake - interesting! Not just a dude who went down to the local Home Depot and picked up a few things. I'm insulted by the simplicity of it all, really.
Saw has kept that crazy, elaborate plot going for six films - this film couldn't produce one lasting 88 minutes.
The acting was, at best mediocre, with Josh Stewart in the lead role as the only tolerable performance. I've always liked his acting on Criminal Minds, but to be honest, he looks like a criminal himself most of the time, with those shifty eyes and sleepy drawl. His demeanor is so understated that he almost comes off as dull.
The husband and wife (Michael Reilly Burke & Andrea Roth), as well as the older sister (Madeline Zima) were all pretty forgettable, with little to do except scream and bleed. Little sis Hannah (Karley Scott Collins) was probably the best of the bunch. So what's that tell you if you're out-acted by an 11 year old?
So what's left to say? Not a whole lot I guess. No real reason was ever given, no method to the madness as to why the hell the dude was taking people and boxing them up like a huge order of Omaha Steaks, and (heaven help us!) they set it up for an inevitable sequel.
My biggest question goes completely unanswered. How the HELL did he get all those traps set up in the few hours between when the family left to when Arkin showed up? Really far-fetched and utterly ludicrous!
While I can't say I completely wasted ninety minutes, I did find myself watching the most implausible movie I've seen yet this year. I never said I was looking for The Exorcist or The Silence of the Lambs as far as intelligence goes, but I really have to say, if you're reading this and you liked it, I'd love to know what you found interesting about The Collector. Because sometimes, I don't want to have to check my brain at the door.