I don’t mind bad horror movies. I’ve seen plenty. They can either be hilariously awful, or just plain boring and unoriginal. Either kind aren’t terribly offensive, but the most frustrating ones are those that take a very solid idea, and squander it completely.
It’s 2012. The Saw franchise is dead, and Paranormal Activity is dying. A new challenger must emerge to produce a yearly batch of scares and box office receipts, and The Collection aims to be that film. As stated, its core concept is great. The film opens describing a serial killer so brutal and omnipresent, he’s practically a comic supervillain. He’s been on a crime spree leaving dozens or even hundreds dead, trapping them in their own houses or offices, while 50 others remain missing from the scenes of these crimes.
If merely talking about his widespread brutality wasn’t doing it for you, the opening sequence demonstrates his particular kind of mayhem. Hundreds of hipster ravers are lured into a secret underground party in a remote warehouse. As they grind on each other, the forever masked Collector springs a trap that has a harvester combine rip through the dance floor in one of the most brutal mass slayings ever put on film. Those that survive are either butchered by other bladed traps scattered throughout the club, or trapped in a cage and crushed into the ground by a hydraulic ceiling.
From that memorable opening, you might think that The Collection could be on to something here. But sadly, it’s all downhill afterward.
The rest of the story follows young Elena, whose night goes from bad, when she finds her boyfriend cheating on her at the party, to worse, when she’s kidnapped as the only survivor of the massacre. She wakes to find herself in the Collector’s house of horrors, where living and dead victims are strewn throughout an abandoned hotel.
Her father, a wealthy man (Christopher MacDonald), decides to use his private security force to retrieve her when an escaped victim(Josh Stewart) is found in the carnage of the party. Though they now know the exact location of the Collector’s lair, the security force leader Lucello (Lee Tergesen) puts it thusly, “the police had their chance, now it’s our turn!”
“Damn, you’ve find my weakness. I must make eye contact to kill you.”
“Our turn” referring to himself, the shattered victim, Arkin, and four other mercenaries with guns and goofy haircuts. Unfortunately, SWAT or the entire goddamn National Guard probably would have been the smarter pick.
The film quickly devolves into a mix of Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses with gore piled up to the invaders eyeballs, and Saw II where they’re in a house full of deadly traps. But there’s no ulterior motive here. No lessons to be learned like the kind Jigsaw was always trying to teach. It’s just spike trap on top of blade trap on top of bladed-spike-cage trap, not to mention the Collector himself running around with a hunting knife and assault rifle in case his machinery fails.
There’s an interesting story to be told here, but it never surfaces. Kidnapped victims are discovered in the house, and all profess some sort of slavish devotion to the Collector, desperately wanting to be in his “collection.” I thought they were building to some grand reveal, some master plan that he’s committed all these crimes to put into place, but that never comes. It’s just a house with a lot of traps, and lot of really gross stuff in it.
When pieces of the mysterious “collection” are in your promotional material, you’re doing it wrong.
Ultimately, it’s boring. Sure, the kills are bloody and there’s imagery that will be hard to scrub from your mind, but it’s just so poorly done. Hostel may have been torture porn, but at least it was well filmed. Saw may have gone wild with trap after trap, but at least the plot had some twists and turns and meaning behind it. The Collection sets up genuinely interesting mysteries, but botches the reveals or forgets about them entirely.
Watch the first ten minutes and then leave and go see Skyfall or Lincoln. The rest is just a waste of time, and with dismal box office receipts, this will likely be the last we see of The Collector or his goofy gore hotel.
1.5 out of 5 stars