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The Independent Critic

Josh Stewart, Karley Scott Collins, Michael Reilly Burke, Juan Fernandez, Jabari Thomas, Colvin Roberson
Marcus Dunstan
Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton
Rated R
88 Mins.

 "The Collector" Review 
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I have a confession.

This is huge.

I actually enjoyed the first "Saw" film, one of the earliest flicks in what has become known as "torture porn."

I know. I know. Who really knew what I was getting myself into?

It's not that I admired or "enjoyed" the violence, per se, I simply enjoyed the unique inventiveness of the filmmaking, the suspense of the devices and the surprisingly well acted portrayals featuring Cary Elwes and Danny Glover.

Unfortunately, then came "Saw II," "Saw III," "Saw IV" and "Saw V" along with the "Hostel" films and, well, the list goes on.

What was initially inventive has now become simply another burned out Hollywood gimmick designed to produce low-budget films that turn a profit even if box-office receipts are only modest.

"The Collector" director and co-writer Marcus Dunstan first came to fame with his Project Greenlight winning script for "Feast," a film that was only a mild blip at the box-office yet got just enough critical notice to keep Dunstan working and he followed up his script for "Feast" with scripts for "Feast 2" and "Feast 3" along with "Saw IV" and "Saw V," inarguably the worst in a comatose series that will somehow manufacture "Saw VI" penned by, you guessed it, Dunstan.

Here, however, Dunstan directs for the first time off a script co-written with Patrick Melton, with whom he has worked on most of his projects.

"The Collector" actually starts off with a bit of promise as Dunstan pleasingly blends elements of suspense and outright horror but the film quickly dissolves into nothing more than a "How many ways can we kill someone film?" that is even more morally bankrupt than the "Saw" and "Hostel" films.

I know. Hard to imagine.

Josh Stewart starts as an ex-con trying to hold his family together, when he does a carpentry job at the isolated home of a real estate broker (Michael Reilly Burke). Of course, these sorts of scenarios never play out well and he decides to return later that night to crack a safe that contains a gem that will be the answer to all his family's problems.

Is there a moral lesson there about caring for one's family?


Rather than a quick in-and-out job, he stumbles into the lair of a psycho madman (Juan Fernandez) who has booby trapped the house with a myriad of ways to kill both the residing family and our ex-con.

Know where we're going?

Of course you do.

The simple truth is that your ability to appreciate "The Collector" rests solely upon your appreciation of this comatose sub-genre called "torture porn," a type of film in which acting, script and storyline are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is creative killing and this is just about all "The Collector" has going for it.

Dunstan seems to subscribe to the "hit em' over the head" approach to directing, an approach not exactly beneficial given the inherent hits already occurring in this tired sub-genre. While "The Collector" certainly has, at times, the look and feel of a dreary, horrific film, Dunstan seems to have no concept of when to let up on the gas a bit and, as a result, "The Collector" becomes a numbing, headache-inducing experience hindered further by Jerome Dillon's thundering and overwhelming original score.

While Brandon Cox's cinematography is occasionally visually arresting, it is more often pointlessly off-balance.

Devoid of any semblance of logic or purpose, acknowledging that it would be difficult to come up with a sufficient purpose for slaughtering a family, "The Collector" simply never makes sense and with all the characters in the film fatally flawed it's quite literally watching violence for the sake of violence.

Will this be the final nail in the coffin of "torture porn?"

Given that "Saw VI" is already in production and "Saw VII" is in development, it's seriously doubtful. Inexpensive to produce and catering to a niche' audience that keeps coming back, "The Collector" need only break even to provide evidence to studios that these films should continue to be made.

Passed solely on the basis of its promising beginning, a touch of stylishness and a decent lead performance, "The Collector" is unlikely to satisfy the vast majority of horror fans beyond those who anxiously await the return of Jigsaw.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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