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The Collector (2009)

Desperate to repay his debt to his ex-wife, an ex-con plots a heist at his new employer’s country home, unaware that a second criminal has also targeted the property, and rigged it with a series of deadly traps.

The Collector was written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, with Dunstan taking on the director duties. This paring are most famous for creating the ‘Feast’ trilogy as well as writing the ‘Saw’ movies IV – VII (3D). This film was at one point intended to be a ‘Saw’ prequel but that idea was abandoned and we got The Collector instead.

The plot revolves around a guy named Arkin (Josh Stewart) who is an ex-con working with a home renovations crew performing work for a wealthy family. Arkin’s ex-wife is in debt with loan sharks, so to protect her and their daughter, Arkin plans on breaking into the family home and stealing a rare gem they have hidden in a safe so he can use it to settle his ex-wife’s debt. As always, things don’t go according to plan. When Arkin breaks into the house, he soon discovers that someone else has already broken in, and has hidden numerous traps around it. The other intruder (The Collector) has captured Mr. and Mrs. Chase but their youngest daughter is hiding somewhere in the house. Arkin discovers the couple (who are not in the best of situations!) and agrees to help them find their daughter, forcing him to try to figure out a way to save those whom he had originally intended to rob.

I had never really seen Josh Stewart in anything other than a few episodes of Criminal Minds, so I was unsure what to expect of him as a leading man. I had nothing to fear though as he was great, in a role in which he played a down on his luck ex-con, he gave the character depth and I really wanted him to find a way out of the house. He was just really watchable and I was enthralled in his journey around the maze of traps. I loved the tense game of cat and mouse between Arkin and ‘The Collector’ and with twists and turns around every corner it never got boring.

The villain of the film was actually a refreshing change. Naturally I won’t give anything away about him but I can say he actually is an intelligent bad-guy who thoroughly enjoys his work and is good at doing what he does. Along with John ‘Jigsaw’ Kramer (Saw!), Melton & Dunstan have done some great work establishing two great genre villains. (Obviously they didn’t create Jigsaw but have helped shape him and his legacy throughout the last 4 movies).

As for the traps themselves, you can tell the writers were coming from the ‘Saw’ universe. Sadistic and designed mostly to maim rather than kill, the traps were brutal but effective. Some examples of the traps range from nails in the floor boards, bear traps laid out in the dining room to butcher knives hanging from chandeliers. Throw in some razor wire and a few more surprises and we have a nice mix of tricks and treats for our characters to try and avoid.

Whilst a couple seemed a little extravagant for ‘The Collector’ to set up, the fact that the items were pretty much obtainable anywhere rather than some of the crazy traps the later ‘Saw’ films resorted to made it all the more realistic. Given the nature of the traps it’s safe to assume the movie has a lot of blood on display. Torture and graphic violence are constant throughout, it’s visceral and very nasty and the injuries obtained by people in the film look frighteningly realistic. That is added to by the look and cinematography of the film, which is well shot and the lighting was very reminiscent (not surprising really) of the ‘Saw’ series.

There were some interesting plot developments throughout the film, and things we were shown at the beginning made more sense as the movie went on. We are only given a brief insight into why ‘The Collector’ does what he does, and it seemed much more of a set up film rather than a stand alone experience. Luckily we will get to explore the villain and his philosophies in a sequel (The Collection). I can’t really go into much more detail without spoiling it, but despite being set in a house for the majority of the film, there are plenty of rooms in this big house each full with all sorts of traps. Characters are introduced throughout the film and it adds a new danger to Arkin’s plight every time. Having seen the theater ending and the alternate ending I’m glad they went with the one they did. I have seen a lot of criticism in other reviews about a lack of information regarding certain characters and lots of loose ends, but as I mentioned above I really feel this is just the beginning of a story and I can’t wait to see part 2 to learn more about who ‘The Collector’ really is.

7 stars

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21 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this movie when it came out, I had seen another review that stated they weren’t sure why the second one would even be made as all that happened was someone got chased around the house..they completely missed the “point” if that was all they viewed, great write up!

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    • Thanks!! Yeah I’ve seen it get slated on other sites but I really enjoyed it and what they tried to achieve with it. I thought there was an interesting villain and I look forward to seeing how the second one will shape up. I’ve read some previews and it sounds as though ‘The Collection’ will answer a lot of questions.

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  2. I’ve had a copy of this lying at the bottom of my DVD cover for ages but was never sure if I was in the mood for it. Think I will dig it out now and give it a watch.

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  3. Interesting. I’ve actually never heard of this one.

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    • Definitely worth checking out in my opinion. That is if a really tense game of cat and mouse with some torture traps thrown in is your cup of tea! 🙂

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  4. I just finished watching it. The first half was great because there was real horror in Arkin having to remain hidden from the killer. When his hand got stuck in that blade window thing, I just about died of a heart attack! But I found the second half very repetitive regarding all the chases combined with, as you mentioned, the lack of explanation (aside from a sentence or two) about motivations and the like. It’s not quite a “full package” but I’m not opposed to recommending it especially for fans of the genre.

    And poor cat. I don’t like house cats but–man! That was just crazy. At least it was balanced with the dog. lol

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    • Cheers for sharing your thoughts Franz. Aside from it going a little bit ‘Michael Myers’ at the end I never really found it too repetitive as I felt the variation in traps kept me distracted enough. I hear where your coming from though. The sequel will answer a lot of questions from what the director has said so far. I can’t wait for that. Appreciate you watching it based on me pointing you in the direction of it though, that’s what I set out to do with the blog so I’m grateful to you for making the effort. Much appreciated 🙂 And yeah, cruelty to animals is bad, an instant shock moment though in regards to films, you always feel the pets are off limits usually!

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  5. Victor De Leon

     /  August 16, 2012

    killer movie and for once I did not mind the ending. can’t wait for the sequel. oh and how the hell did this guy have time to set up all those elaborate traps? did he have help? Hmm, we’ll have to see…

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    • I guess depending on when he kidnapped the family, he could of had all day? I think he works alone, and obviously knew the layout of the house. No idea how long it took him to collect, carry and set all the bear traps though! Not long now till the sequel, really cant wait either 🙂

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      • Victor De Leon

         /  August 16, 2012

        ah. yep that sounds pretty logical. Have you seen the ChromeSkull – Laid to Rest movies?

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        • I think I saw the 2nd one? with the guy from the old 90210 show? Don’t remember much about it, thought it was weird though, always meant to try watch them both in order though. You like them?

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        • Victor De Leon

           /  August 16, 2012

          I don’t really prefer either one but I suppose I honestly enjoyed the first better which is saying alot. ChromeSkull himself is kinda bad ass but everything else was sort of sucky. Oh and yeah the 2nd was with that dude from 90210. Brian Austin Green I believe.

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        • Thats him, Megan Fox’s fella. Lucky, lucky guy. I will try catch the first one if only for continuity and to say ive seen it. Danielle Harrris was in the 2nd, was she in the first? Really like her 🙂

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        • Victor De Leon

           /  August 16, 2012

          I don’t recall her in the first. I could be wrong. I know she was in the second Hatchet movie.

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        • Just googled it, she wasn’t. I am going to watch them both and get them reviewed, love Lena Headey and she was in the first one! I saw the first Hatchet, never caught the 2nd but I know there is a Hatchet 3 coming soon. SO many movies, so little time 🙂

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        • Victor De Leon

           /  August 16, 2012

          So true. I can’t keep up with all the releases. Not only horror but sci fi and action films as well. I just watched Silent House for review and I’m about to start Juan of the Dead. And Danielle Harris was just about the only thing good about H2. (just my opinion) I hope H3 will attempt to be scarier.

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        • Heard good things about Juan of the Dead, look forward to reading your thoughts. Ill wait till Hatchet 3 is out then watch all 3 back to back like with REC.

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  1. The Collection (2012) | Head In A Vice

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