THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
The Collection (2012)
Directed by Marcus Dunstan
“I don’t know what people out there are smoking because The Collection stinks.”
Sometimes a movie comes along where you keep hearing about it and seeing it “recommended” on several sites until giving in to no one's pressure and give the thing a go. The Collection is one of those movies, and it has an excellent, memorable cover with a bad guy lacing his killin’ mask up. The other day some friends wanted to watch something “scary”, so me, being a writer about scary kinda movies, decided to try out The Collection based all the consistent good comments. Hell, I even checked IMDB (which gives it 6/10) before clicking play so I didn’t look like a dumbass and offer an awful suggestion.
And…I don’t know what people are smoking because The Collection stinks. It’s the worst kind of Saw rip-off (especially considering director Marcus Dunstan co-wrote several of the later sequels), the kind that eliminates all the interesting things that made Saw work and focuses solely on the money shot, the gore. The Collection is overblown, overacted, oversetted (fake word, I know), and overrated.
Hell, I didn’t even know if it was a sequel or semi-sequel to 2009’s The Collector until I got the covers confused (both which feature the back of the killer’s mask being tied up). And that’s cool if it’s a standalone sequel. In fact, it kind of has to be (otherwise why rename the title) because it apparently reuses Josh Stewart’s character Arkin, who was placed in a trunk at the end of part one (I could be wrong, but that’s at least where we see his character in The Collection). Beyond him, we have all new characters and a new guy playing the Collector himself.
New actors or not, I always like to look at character first, no matter the movie. If it has good or at least palatable characters it will probably hold my interest. Last time out I reviewed Shark Night, and while that movie is admittedly dumb, the characters within it are developed like folks from within War and Peace in comparison because The Collection has zero interesting characters. Not one. They don’t even give the main characters enough personality to make us care if they live or die. And if we don’t have that, at least give us a bad guy to root for. But nope. Not in this movie.
In case you’ve missed it, The Collection tells the story of a young woman, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick), who goes to a rave party only to watch everyone die. While escaping, she encounters Arkin, a guy locked in a trunk, and then gets locked into one herself. From here, Arkin is forced to lead some sort of elite team for a rescue of the young woman. Oh, and then the bad guy starts to kill them all. But from there, nothing makes sense. So the bad guy is a collector of things? Ok...but he lives in an abandoned motel (where Oz’s Lee Tergesen blurts out the obvious about it being an abandoned motel), sets elaborate booby traps that sure look like Jigsaw's work, and somehow knows Kung Fu? What? Yeah, I realize the whole suspension of disbelief, but give me more material to focus on so that disbelief gets distracted. Otherwise, I can’t focus on anything but the stupidness.
The Collection attempts to give a backstory to Elena within the opening minutes. We see her and her father in a car wreck. No one is killed but her dad (Shooter McGavin aka Christopher McDonald who must have had about five hours of free time to film his scenes) is now a little mangled, and she now has short hair and a hearing aid. That’s it. That’s the extent of our background. Obviously, the filmmakers were scared of overwhelming the audience with the detailed nature of the killer, right?
Well, no. I’ve seen more personality out of the version of Jason Voorhees, who is clearly the mold used. But with Jason we’re always given at least an inch (or the metric equivalent) of sympathy to make him interesting. But nothing for the Collector, who sports perhaps the worst horror masks ever. The film actually gives the dude a hell of an introduction as he slaughters the entire rave-going crowd in gruesome fashion (who deserved it because… they were at a rave). After that it all becomes standard issue torture and gore without a bit of creativity attached to it.
The Collection has a decent cast of TV actors. For those who watched The Wire, Bubbles aka Andre Royo co-stars as a mercenary with perhaps the worst haircut ever. He’s completely wasted here, which annoyed me because he deserves better than this kind of shit. Tergesen is good as the leader of the squad, but it’s tough to buy in the role because...well, watch Oz sometime and you'll understand. In the end, it all seems like a waste of time and talent, and nothing seems worth collecting.