The Collection CoverDirector:  Marcus Dunstan
Writers: Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan
Producers: Brett Forbes, Mickey Liddell, Jennifer Monroe, Julie Richardson, Patrick Rizzotti
Cast: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick & Christopher McDonald
Running time: 1hr 19mins
Rating: 18

Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton’s The Collector was a moody horror treat. Sure it riffed on the Saw franchise (rumour has it that it started as a Saw sequel/prequel before being retooled into the superior horror shocker it is) but managed to overcome any similarities through tight direction, a refreshing anti-hero to root for and a style and mood all of its own. Said anti-hero, Arkin (Stewart), is back in a much-welcomed sequel, that while not living up to the original is still a rooting-tooting terror treat.

The Collector is a ruthless killer who traps, toys with and terrorizes innocent victims through an array of brutal traps and torture methods. Arkin was the unfortunate recipient of The Collector’s games the previous time around and was last seen being carted off in the madman’s infamous chest. The Collection begins not long after the events of The Collector with the deranged psychopath now turning an entire nightclub into a blood spewing death trap. During this incredibly over-the-top though inventively gory sequence Arkin manages to escape and his place in the madman’s “collection” is taken by not so lucky survivor Elena (Fitzpatrick). Held captive in The Collector’s booby-trapped hideout, Elena’s father hires a team of mercenaries to get her back forcing Arkin to go along, he being the only known person to come out of the lair alive.

The Collection is a gory horror blast and at 79 minutes in running time (including credits) it doesn’t hang around long, gets to the point quick (lots of crazy traps causing gruesome deaths) and sticks to it. However, and lets get this out of the way as there is a lot to enjoy in The Collection and I’d rather focus on that, the unique mood and sense of tension that made the original so good are missing. And this is disappointing. The distinctive style and mood of original is what made it so good: a sort of sweltering, surreal vibe that ratcheted up tension as well as delivering the gore. That oddly strange mood is missing this time around in favour of a more generic style and ramping up everything to deliver a cavalcade of carnage. While it’s good to take proceedings in a different direction for the sequel and the idea of venturing into The Collector’s lair is a good one ripe for invention, The Collection is unfortunately just missing the tension it sorely needs. This is perhaps due to the brief running time which rushes everything so much in the first half its hard to get a sense of who anyone is or why The Collector is doing what he is doing.

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That said The Collection is a gory horror hoot that sticks to its outlandish guns and fires off the traps, gore and insaneness with aplomb. While The Collector is a novel and threatening villain, Arkin (superbly played by Josh Stewart once again) is just as important: an identifiably flawed man who has just happened to fall into a world of pain and madness and is desperately trying to claw his way out. Adding a group of mercenaries and expanding the location widens the canvas for Dunstan and his crew to go wild with the set pieces and general horror insanity. From the aforementioned nightclub massacre, to odd and random moments of tarantulas and “cooked out of their minds” captives running wild (!), to the gloriously mounted crescendo of violence in the final act, The Collection does not skimp on the gore set pieces. For the most part, they are nicely handled and the inventive final 20 minutes or so should sate any gore-hound’s appetite.

While fans of the original may be disappointed with the tone of this instalment and the running time could have been at least another 10 or 15 minutes longer, The Collection is still a good slice of gory adult horror from the team of Dunstan and Melton (who also wrote the deliriously deranged but extremely entertaining Feast series). While we don’t need this turning into another seemingly never ending franchise a la Saw, at least one more go around with The Collector wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Released on DVD, The Collection comes with a “collection” of extras including the obligatory commentary and a surfeit of featurettes covering everything from design, to effects, to stunts. Most interesting is a brief feature on Dunstan himself showing his passion for genre filmmaking and where the cast seem refreshingly genuine when talking up the director and the fun time they had making the film. There are also a couple of interesting deleted/alternate scenes that really should have been left in the film.

Review by Andrew Skeates

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