‘The Collection’ aims to revolt more than to scare

By Gary Clift

Marcus Dunstan directed “The Collection,” a movie sequel he co-wrote with Patrick Melton. The two of them had gotten in on writing some of the later sequels of “Saw,” a horror movie mostly set inside an old industrial building. The “Saws” that Dunstan and Melton wrote were also set inside old factory or warehouse spaces.

Those settings make for cheap films—remember “Taken 2” this fall? And as long as they were going cheap, Dunstan and Melton amused themselves between “Saw” movies by hiring Josh Stewart, a spade-faced little actor who had a minor part in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and made a horror movie of their own, “The Collector,” which they set inside a large building, this time a country house.

So now Dunstan and Melton have decided to branch out. They’ve made a sequel to “The Collector” called “The Collection.” It stars Josh Stewart. And it is set inside an old industrial building. It only took ‘em three years to come up with all these concepts.

“The Collection” is in several details like “Saw.” Each one is about a serial killer whose identity is concealed behind a mask. The killer has imagined all sorts of expensive and complicated and gory ways to torture his confused victims, who awaken inside his maze of traps. A known actor—in this case it is Christopher McDonald—has a part.

In all these movies it is difficult to tell if one is frightened by the film so much as one is repelled by the gore and violence. Horror movies, it seems to me, ought to frighten. Revolting a movie audience ought to be left to the “Step-Up” series of teen dance movies.

“Saw” and its sequels killed off characters we didn’t like much, but it had an excuse. Jigsaw the killer was in some twisted way supposedly trying to give bad people a chance to make good decisions. Dunstan and Melton haven’t bothered with any such preparation of potential sympathy.

This is one of the reasons it seems to me that “The Collection” aims to revolt more than to scare its ticketholders. One doesn’t care if these obno and perfidious characters die or not. What’s the difference in what we feel for Lucello, the leader of the squad sent into the old hotel to free captive Elena and kill her captor, and what we feel for that captor, the entomologist and re-assembled human body-parts collector?

The latter kills a whole disco full of kids who are dancing mindlessly to “club music” at an exclusive party (in an old industrial building) into which one can only get using a password. Whirling reels of blades drop down from the ceiling over the dance floor and mow them down.

But then Lucello forces a man who has escaped from the Collector to lead his team of vigilantes into the mass murderer’s old industrial space. Incidentally, why would the masked killer take a victim from his lair to the dance club? Not that anything makes much sense in the movie.

Most of the film is taken up in montage, with the story of Elena’s own wandering through the killer’s maze of spiked floors and bear traps being intercut with the story of Lucello’s team and his prisoner-guide doing their own wandering. The Collector himself wanders back and forth between the two, slashing at them and leading them into traps.

The only thing in the movie that rouses interest, really, is that Stewart’s character has a way out of the maze that not even Kovak or John Steed could have imagined. Stewart uses his last couple of bullets to shoot by-standers on the street outside the large old industrial building. Jeepers. Why didn’t anybody ever think of that before?

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