Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Collection is Missing a Backstory or Two: A Movie Review

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Director: Marcus Dunstan.

Writers: Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan.

Cast: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick, Christopher McDonald, Lee Tergesen and Tim Griffin.

Horror fans might know what they are getting into with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan's latest, The Collection. These scriptwriters have created four Saw films together (Saw IV to Saw VII). They have also produced the Feast trilogy. So, there are many traps from the first film series included and little of the wit from the latter. There is also very little character development in this piece. Plotlines are meager, as well. Melton and Dunstan have instead decided to focus on spectacle. This bloodfest is heavy on gore, but characters are only partially fleshed out.

A few of the characters do not make it much farther than the opening credit sequence. Soon, the Collector, a mute serial killer, is continuing his wrath from the first film, The Collector (2009). An underground dance club is turned into a slaughterhouse with the help of a corn thresher. Heads fly, bodies squirt blood and the visual display is truly a sight to see. Arkin (Josh Stewart), the only survivor from the first film, escapes the murderer's clutches, possibly by design. But, the newly introduced Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) takes his place by the Collector's quiet side. Elena has a rich father, so a group of mercenaries is tasked with rescuing her, with Arkin's help. They find the kidnapper's abode, but they will wish they had not.

Elena is caged in character purgatory.

This film will appeal to fans of gore. Thankfully, there is no CGI here. Instead, the effects often involve blood spray, lots of blood spray. One character is outroduced via a modern iron maiden and the blood seems to spout five feet in the air. Hundreds of characters are offed in one of the film's opening sequences. It is a gruesome sight. Director Marcus Dunstan knows how to create a shocking visual display.

Much of the spectacle is created by a whole assortment of traps. Similar to the Saw series, these imaginative devices litter the Collector's warehouse. There are bear traps, explosive trip wires, bladed door handles, falling knives and many more. Each room has another obstacle to overcome. And, it seems strange that the owner of the warehouse is unscathed by all of his tools of torture. The other characters are less knowledgeable in their location; so characters' life spans are often short. These creations are a sight to see, but the film does not rise above the macabre displays on the screen.

The character development in this piece is almost non-existent. What are the killer's motivations? He hardly speaks more than a word. Why was Elena chosen as a hostage? The killer's choices often involve women, but why? Thus, the killer's malevolence can never be understood by the audience. The protagonists are equally underdeveloped. There are two protagonists in this piece: Arkin and Elena. Both characters have equally banal backstories. Elena was involved in a car accident and Arkin is a part time thief. This is all of the character's need as background, apparently. And, this lack of development seemed strange to at least one watcher.

The Collection is a visually stunning film. However, this horror title does not stand out much from the Saw series of films, from which this film is partially based. How many films can be based only on imaginative traps and not on its characters? Dunstan and partner Melton will continue to develop films such as this one as long as viewers continue to buy tickets. And, based on the box office receipts, horror fans might be expecting more than blood spray and cardboard cutout characters.

Overall: 6.75 (visually stunning, the film is much like an amusement park ride: entertaining and forgettable).

*on DVD and Blu-Ray March 26th.

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