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The Collection

2012 | 82 min | R | 2.39:1

The Collection


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Theatrical release date

 30 November, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

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The Collection Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, November 29, 2012

I wonder how many people outside of horror genre fanatics even remember the release of 2009's "The Collector." A low-budget effort slipped into the summer moviegoing season without much fanfare, the feature only attracted a small audience before it was shipped off to home video, where I presume it found its fair share of admirers. After all, over three years later, we now have "The Collection," a sequel that takes its job of continuation seriously, despite greeting potentially hazy memories at the multiplex. Vicious, loud, and shockingly short (72 minutes long), the follow-up only manages to match the scattered highlights of its predecessor, unwilling to challenge the proven formula the production orders up for round two.

After surviving a horrible car accident as a child, teen Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) is looking for a way to shed her sheltered life, accepting an offer to head out to a secret nightclub with her friends. When the evening turns into a mass extermination orchestrated by madman The Collector (Randall Archer), Elena is left as the last victim, sealed into a trunk and taken to the killer's lair. Freed from his trunk that very night, survivor Arkin (Josh Stewart) is rudely awakened in his hospital bed by Lucello (Lee Tergesen), the personal security chief to Mr. Peters (Christopher McDonald), Elena's father. Offered a chance to guide a team of mercenaries (including Shannon Kane and Andre Royo) into The Collector's Hotel Argento fortress and kill his tormentor, Arkin joins the fight, angry but highly aware of the ghoul's gifts with booby traps and attraction to entomology. Inside the castle of nightmares, Elena manages to free herself, frantically searching for a way out, finding help from Abby (Erin Way), another highly traumatized prisoner.

If it sounds like "The Collection" is liberally borrowing from James Cameron's "Aliens," it is. However, whatever passion director Marcus Dunstan had for the steamrolling sci-fi sequel during the scripting stage (with collaborator Patrick Melton) has been stripped away by careless editing and mangled direction, robbing the feature of the butt-kicking attitude it so dearly wants to possess. Characterization is a major problem with "The Collection," which moves away from the relative intimacy of the first film to enjoy two lead characters desperate for survival, while Lucello and his grunts work around the hotel maze of traps and cages. Cruelly, Dunstan doesn't amplify the personalities of the mercenaries. In fact, he doesn't even establish the crew, botching their introduction and largely ignoring their presence in the picture, missing the "Aliens" opportunity to whip up a smug, idiosyncratic bunch aggressively hunting an unusual foe, quipping and bickering along the way. Instead, the supporting players are just cattle with guns, picked off one by one in a sadistic manner that seems passe now that the genre has moved on to exorcisms and haunted houses. "The Collection" does surprisingly little with a promising revenge plot.

"The Collector" had its highlights, focusing on supremely violent acts of trapping while Dunstan rattled the senses with a pounding electro score and sickened with a pinch of animal abuse. Unfortunately, the production's curious taste in animal slaughter returns in "The Collection" (Dunstan and Melton have a few issues they should work on with a therapist), along with a general deafening concentration on throbbing soundtrack cuts and bullet discharges, keeping the sequel coasting along on sheer noise. Like its predecessor, it's a stylish picture, nicely lit by cinematographer Sam McCurdy, creating an enticing realm of doom for The Collector, who uses the hotel as a prison for his victims, building monstrous displays with their remains. There's little advancement in the killer's motivation or the overall design of his torment, finding the feature working the same stalk-and-kill beats as before, only here the murders are more outrageous and the victims a little less interesting. Still, if you found the controlled chaos of the first film digestible, "The Collection" isn't shy about repeating itself, securing approval through recycling.

The subplot with Abby is irrelevant (perhaps another victim of the shoddy editing), and a few logic whoppers push their luck, though I enjoyed watching Arkin dream up an especially painful way to reach an unreachable lock, creating the picture's finest wince-inducing moment. Overall, "The Collection" comes off as a disappointment, failing to live up to its sequel potential by advancing the conflict and expanding murderous appetites in an exciting, imaginative manner. Despite a new setting, characters, and the promise of big screen war, the effort is stuck in neutral.

Starring: Josh Stewart, Christopher McDonald, Navi Rawat, Lee Tergesen, Anne Marie Howard, Tim Griffin
Director: Marcus Dunstan

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