The Collector (AKA The Mighnight Man) (2009)
starring: Josh Stewart, Andrea Roth, Juan Fernández
Evident with its premise of elaborate traps and some bits of torture porn, The Collector should have been another installment for the SAW franchise, a prequel of sorts, but director and overall mastermind Marcus Dustan made a wise choice of making this his own labor of love. Thus resulting to one of the finest examples of a home invasion slasher flick made for a midnight viewing.
Arkins is a down-on-his-luck thief/handyman who targets his new employer's house to heist a safe in order of acquire enough to pay off his wife's enormous debt. He carried out the plan later that night, wherein he believes the house's owners had gone out, and things were all going accordingly, until he heard the screaming, and he began to notice that the whole place is rigged with unusually elaborate traps such as an entire floor covered with bear traps, boarded up windows lined with razors and even an entire room with dangling fish hooks.
Turns out, someone beat him to the place, a sadistic serial killer known as The Collector had targeted the family and is killing them off one by one until he finds someone he can add to his "collection". Now trapped in a house with a masked maniac and his complicated traps with little way out, Arkins now had a choice to either turn tail, or save the very family he's stealing from.
|Never trust a red suitcase...|
Fun stuff. Lots of fun stuff, I say. The Collector is as gritty as any torture flicks made popularized by films like SAW or Hostel, though unlike them, this title tries to make a tight and workable story, despite some plot holes (such as the actual accuracy of these traps to function the way they're designed for, and the unbelievable speed the killer had on setting up these impossible traps almost all over the house), delivering more tension through direction and doomed atmosphere, strong blood work and some workable torture.
The traps here are actually only for show, as unlike the SAW movies where the traps are made for the purpose of torturing their victims, the killer here sets them up defensively as precautions for anybody who will disturb his work, killing trespassers or escapees, but not as his personal means of eliminating his victims, as being true to the slasher sub-genre, the killer here prefer to use his own hand-held weapons to do the dirty deed. To back this up, only two victims died to these traps (three if you count the cat), the rest were done by the Collector himself in a tight-paced game of cat-and-mouse, quite refreshing to see for that year where lazy, rehashed torture porn is in full orbit. Thankfully, by means of exploitative murder, the film is practical and red enough to give us some juicy servings of kills without overly dwelling in it, albeit the movie had its utterly brutal moments and some workable torture scenes. (one guy gets electrocuted as the killer uses him as a human ruse, and then later uses the same man as a battering ram to take down a door. Brutal stuff right there!)
Aside from the strong gore and direction, The Collector's other winning factor would the the titular killer; let's face it, though his actual motive isn't that well fleshed out here, a killer collecting live people after killing off those that he doesn't like, all for no reason sounds like an idea scarcely tackled in horror. And the ambiguity of this motive adds to the mystique of the killer's faceless identity, as the only things we know about him is that he's mute, sadistic and somehow has eyeshine (His eyes glows in the dark when light hits it), and that's it.
|Wires and pulleys strong enough to project people?|
That's realism tossed out of the window!
The rest of the cast are fair, but I have to praise Josh Stewart for his role as our lead; I actually got to care and root for his character, odd for me since I rarely root for a lead when I watch a slasher. I have my selective few, and I'm proud to say Arkins would be one of them. Some technical praises for this movie's camera work, lighting and score too, if I may add, hinting some Italian retro-colored lighting and new-wave rock to go along the nightmarish tone of the film.
People easily put off by gore, nihilistic overtone or animals getting killed might not enjoy this film at all, but in an aspect, The Collector was made for modest, open horror fans who's looking for a new slasher villain to root for, or at least some bloody red fun without the need to swim in it. You may consider it a cult fave in the making, or a standard addition to the growing number of slasher flicks out there, but The Collector can't hide itself from a good viewing.
1 female presumably murdered
1 male gutted alive offscreen
1 cat sliced in half by guillotine
1 female repeatedly stabbed on the gut with dagger
1 male falls into bear traps, face crushed
1 female projected to the wall, impaled on nails
1 male electrocuted on wet floor with a broken TV
1 male neck ravaged by dog, broken by killer
1 dog had head set ablaze
1 male gets a dagger thrown to his eye