Zombos Says: Good
At the end of The Collector I felt cheated. I cannot tell you why as that would give the ending away. But here is a clue; in Sabotage, Alfred Hitchcock regretted blowing up the bus. While he wanted the audience to feel uncomfortable from the buildup of tension between the boy, the bus, and the bomb ticking away, he felt he cheated the audience by blowing up the bus, killing the boy and everyone on it. In a word, his payoff for putting the audience through the wringer was negative, not positive. Hitchcock realized he let his audience down: no one wanted to see the bomb go off after all that suspense.
In combining Cube-like lethal traps with a hint of Saw-styled ingenuity and malice, and yet another relentless masked-slasher victimizing a family in unsavory, bloodily grisly ways, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (Feast) do their darnedest to pulverize the audience with fears of helplessness, torture, and death. They almost succeed, but choose to blow up the bus by going the usual horror franchise-building byway at the end with a negative payoff. In their case, however, the bomb takes the form of a trunk for the one he always takes.
lucky survivor and continue on his bizarre journey to perdition (and potentially a hot franchise). He also likes to devise fiendish traps and set them throughout the house, though I am not sure why since he ties up his victims before he sets his don't-step-in-the-bear traps, don't-pick-up-the-phone traps, don't-step-in-the-glue-on-the-floor-because-it-burns-like-acid traps, don't-walk-into-the-razor-wire-strung-across doorway traps, and don't-go-near-the-window traps. Where he finds the energy and time to build all these devilish traps I do not know, but if he devoted it to stamp and coin collecting, even comic books, he would be awesome.
The uncomfortable--for us--increasing tension begins with the unexpected intrusion of an ex-convict looking to pay off his ex-wife's loan shark debt before midnight. His wife and daughter's lives depend on him completing his heist. While opening the safe, Arkin (Josh Stewart) hears screams and goes to investigate. After he realizes what is happening, he tries to help, but the Collector's traps are demoralizing and painful, and the people he tries to save do not trust him and are crazed from fear and pain, making them loud and unmanageable. The house is isolated, of course, so he needs to quickly make a decision whether to save them or himself.
He tries to leave and realizes he is also trapped in the house. How he narrowly escapes the Collector's traps while trying to evade capture, make the midnight deadline and save both families, including the little girl he had a tea-party with earlier that day, keeps his feet in motion, his breathing heavy, and his situation changing from unpleasant to bloody-hell messy unpleasant. Images of spiders and bugs crawl through the movie, and in one tender moment--for the Collector--the masked maniac lovingly frees a spider from the house into the yard. A thunderstorm provides classic gloom, and there is a gruesomely poetic revelation of a web-like trap, illuminated briefly from a flash of lightning, just before Arkin stumbles into it.
The dilemma facing Arkin, to save both families or his own skin, is something not often seen in horror movie fare. It provides a catalyst for audience involvement that goes beyond vicarious body-count watching. When the Collector goes after the little girl, forcing Arkin to make difficult choices between physical safety and his conscience, it made me root for this home team to hit a home run.
But all Dunstan and Melton can do is get stranded at first base. They dote on the bloody-hell messy parts of the movie, replacing most of the suspense with typical--for a psycho-butcher-torturer movie--outcomes. Closeup views of lip sewing, chisel to teeth, shears poised to snip a pliers-held tongue, carving a roast without the roast, and, really, just about every dire torture-gore situation and its outcome we now anticipate due to their overuse is here in lavish closeup. It is stylish, it is done well, but it has all been done before.
So, I felt cheated. But I also felt like double-checking the doors before I went to bed, too.
Warning to cat lover's; don't see this movie. For dog lovers who like drool-dripping, snarling and snapping hounds on chain leashes, this one's for you.
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