As far as being a burglar, Arkin has a pretty good gig going. He’s a contractor during the daytime, with full entry to case potential victims’ houses. Planning a job is as easy as jotting down anything he sees and hears. Who would want to make a movie about a straightforward robbery, though? Not director Marcus Dunstan, and when he throws what seemingly is a second robber into the mix, The Collector turns more into Saw than a heist film.
It soon turns out that the second entrant is not a robber – I mean, what movie do you think you’re watching? – but rather a crazed
collector who has booby-trapped the house, where he… It’s not entirely clear to me how well he has thought this out. He could probably collect the one person he wanted from the house – his modus operandi – and call it good, instead of setting up literally dozens of traps for a cat and mice game.
Either way, Arkin gets thrown into the chase after he breaks into a remote house, and without a way out, and a young girl to save, the game between him and The Collector gets going.
The Collector has more than just a passing similarity to Saw. The script was intended for a Saw prequel, and it was written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, the duo behind entry four through seven of that franchise. In other words, the ones which were not exactly lauded.
Luckily, The Collector holds its own pretty well, and it doesn’t come off as a full-on Saw clone. It might not be a logical movie, but there is a tense current running through it. The film is slickly shot by Dunstan, and some of the overhead tracking shots are particularly effective at moving the cat and mice chase forward.
Juan Fernández doesn’t have a whole lot of material to work with as The Collector himself, but he makes the most of it. During the few scenes where he isn’t doing trap-y stuff, he manages to portray a character that has severe social issues, with more than a few psychotic tendencies. Sure, that’s the case with nigh any slasher antagonist, but Fernández gives the faceless killer a little more personality.
Anti-protagonist Arkin is well portrayed by Josh Stewart. He makes the burglar feel sympathetic, showing almost a Robin Hood-style quality. Again, that’s not earth-shattering in the grand scheme of movie-making, but it adds a good je ne sais quoi to a protagonist that could have been as bland as what we saw in Saw IV through Saw: The Final Chapter. (Which more logically should’ve been called Saw: The Final Chapter?.)
The Collector is a good little slasher, though it still falls in many of the genre’s trappings. I do get that the tense chase is reliant on violence, but I’ll be honest: in my old age, I tend to look away during the more gruesome parts. I mean, I can appreciate the cleverness of some of the traps and all, but I don’t feel the need to see the results of them. It is possible to make a slasher without the gore, as proven by Happy Death Day.
That is what it is. I can live with the gruesomeness as long as it provides a means to an end, and the non-violent parts of The Collector are more than serviceable. The ninety minutes pass quickly.
I was close to not watching The Collector because of Melton and Dunstan’s previous works, but I am glad I could get past it. The Collector is a surprisingly interesting entry in the slasher genre.
Read the review of The Collection!