Wednesday, February 6, 2013

He Always Takes One: The Collector (2009)

The Collector (AKA The Mighnight Man) (2009)
Rating: ****
Starring: Josh Stewart, Andrea Roth, Juan Fernández

Evident with from its elaborate traps and some bits of torture porn, The Collector was originally planned as 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 for a midnight viewing.

Arkins is a down-on-his-luck thief/handyman who targets his new employer's house for a heist in order to pay off his wife's enormous debt. He carries out the plan later that night, wherein he believes the house's owners have gone out and things were all going accordingly until he heard screaming and notices that the whole place was rigged with unusually twisted 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 have beaten him to the place, a sadistic serial killer known as The Collector now killing off the family 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 has a choice to either turn tail, or save the very family he's stealing from.

Fun stuff. Lots of fun stuff, I say. The Collector is as gritty as any torture flicks made popular by films like SAW or Hostel, though unlike them, this title tries to make a tight and workable story that delivers more tension through direction, strong blood work and some workable torture, despite some plot holes. (Such as the actual accuracy of how these traps function and the unbelievable speed the killer had on setting them up almost all over the house)
The traps here are actually just for show, unlike the SAW movies where the traps are made for the purpose of torturing their victims, most often to death. Instead, the killer here sets them up as precautions for anybody who will disturb his work rather than his personal means of eliminating his victims. Being true to the slasher sub-genre, the killer prefers to use his own hand-held weapons to do the dirty deed, with only two victims dying from his traps (three if you count the cat) and the rest were done by the Collector himself in a tight-paced game of cat-and-mouse, quite refreshing to see from a slasher movie released at the time torture porn was in full orbit. In addition, by means of exploitative murder, the film is also practical and red enough to give us some juicy servings of kills without overly dwelling in it, albeit the movie have 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)

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 had his neck ravaged by dog, broken by killer
1 dog had head set ablaze
1 male gets a dagger thrown to his eye
Total: 10


  1. Ah, yet another positive review for this movie... guess that means I'll finally be watching it...

    1. Word of advice, luv. Stick with this one. Never touch the sequel!