The Collection (2012) – WTF Happened to This Horror Movie?

The WTF Happened to This Horror Movie series looks back at the Marcus Dunstan sequel The Collection from 2012

The 2000s was an interesting time for cinema. Let’s face it: it was an interesting time in general. In the realm of horror, the beginning of the aughts saw an influx of remakes of J-Horror – some bad, some pretty decent. However, with the post-9/11 cultural climate heightening anxieties and desensitization to violence due to real-world events, another genre emerged, tapping into the darker side of human nature. First coined by David Edelstein in a 2006 article in New York magazine, “torture porn” took the roots of exploitation and splatter films of the 70s and 80s and reintroduced the mainstream audiences to a new level of explicit brutality. Films like Saw, Hostel, The Devil’s Rejects, and the New Extremity of French Horror were raw and unapologetic looks at human depravity. It was everywhere. I mean, there was a time when you couldn’t go more than a year without having a Saw film. While the popularity of this subgenre began to overstay its welcome by the late 2000s and being replaced with found footage, one film came onto the scene that was seemingly overlooked. When The Collector was released in 2009, audiences had already moved on from overly violent films. Hell, I was one of them. Although it had poor reviews and a low box-office take, the movie eventually got a reappraisal and is deemed a cult classic with its smart take with a blend of home invasion films and torture porn. While it didn’t make blockbuster numbers, it did exceed its 3-million-dollar budget, which led filmmaker Marcus Dunstan to continue on with his story. Today’s film not only had three times the budget of The Collector, it also has one of the craziest kill scenes for a wide-release movie. Watch out for random boxes and be wary of those blades in the underground rave as we discover what happened with The Collection (watch it HERE).

In 2005, Marcus Dunstan and co-scribe Patrick Melton won season 3 of Project Greenlight with their screenplay Feast. After an executive discovered the writers and was impressed with one of their unproduced screenplays, they were hired to write Saw IV and the following sequels up to Saw 3D. That unproduced screenplay, The Midnight Man, was originally shopped around as a prequel to Saw, but after the idea was dismissed, it was reworked into The Collector. That film tells the story of a man named Arkin, who is hired by a family to fix their new home. While owing a large sum of money to some loan sharks, Arkin plans to break into the family’s home to steal a valuable ruby. However, when he arrives, he finds a sadistic maniac has imprisoned the husband and wife and has set up traps all over the house.

The film was originally set up by Dimension Films, but after the cash-strapped studio didn’t have the funds to release the film, LD Entertainment bought the rights and gave it a brief theatrical run where it made 10.2 million on its 3 million budget. While not a complete success compared to the likes of heavy hitters like Saw, it did well enough but really found its audience on DVD. While in the middle of working on Saw 3D, producer Mickey Lidell asked Dunstan and Melton to follow up their movie with triple the budget. They agreed and went into the project with the film Aliens as their inspiration, making it bigger and more action-oriented. Dunstan’s intention for this sequel was to make a film that would work even for the people who didn’t see the first one.

Returning to the sequel is Josh Stewart as Arkin, whose character was last seen taken by the titular Collector. Accompanying Stewart are Emma Fitzpatrick, Lee Tergesen, and Christopher McDonald. The Collector was Josh Stewart’s first starring role, and he has since appeared in a few of Christopher Nolan’s films, Insidious: The Lost Key, and several episodes of Criminal Minds. Emma Fitzpatrick first hit the big screen with The Social Network, and while her filmography is slim on the horror front, she appeared in the 2015 movie Bloodsucking Bastards along with Pedro Pascal. Tergesen has been around for quite a while, dating all the way back to Point Break in 1991. Although he is best known for his role as Tobias Beecher in Oz, he also appeared in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning and an episode of Masters of Horror directed by Tom Holland. The biggest name in this movie is Christopher McDonald. McDonald is known for more comedic roles; seeing him in a horror movie was surprising. While he was in The Faculty, I will always attribute him to Shooter McGavin.

The Collection (2012) – WTF Happened to This Horror Movie?

The movie opens with news reports of a manhunt for a serial killer known as The Collector, who kills his victims using a series of elaborate traps and keeps the ones he wants as trophies. Meanwhile, teenage Elena is invited out to an underground rave. After witnessing her boyfriend there with another girl, she storms off into another room, where she finds a mysterious red trunk. She opens it to find a severely injured Arkin from the previous movie. Opening this box then sets off a deadly trap with blades that mow down the entire group of party-goers on the dance floor. Amid the bloodbath, Arkin manages to escape while The Collector takes Elena. At the hospital, Arkin is taken into police custody and placed under constant watch due to his criminal background. He is soon approached by Lucello, the trusted aide of Elena’s wealthy father, Mr. Peters. Lucello has assembled a team of mercenaries to track down the Collector and save Elena before it’s too late. He promises Arkin that helping them locate the Collector’s lair will clear his criminal record. Previously, while being held captive by the Collector, Arkin had memorized their route to the hideout by marking his arm with cuts. Using these markings, he guides the mercenary team to the Collector’s lair, an abandoned hotel in a remote area. The warehouse is a testament to the Collector’s twisted mind, filled with elaborate traps designed to maim and kill intruders. Every corner of the facility is a potential death trap, showcasing the Collector’s sadistic ingenuity.

As the team ventures deeper into the lair, they encounter various grotesque scenes and captured victims, each suffering from the Collector’s cruel experiments. The atmosphere is tense and oppressive, and danger lurks behind every door and around every corner. The mercenaries, despite their training and weaponry, find themselves outmatched by the Collector’s home-field advantage and his relentless pursuit to maintain control over his domain.

One of the standout features of The Collection is its commitment to practical effects. The special effects team, led by coordinator David Fletcher, is meticulously crafted to create a visceral and immersive experience; Fletcher’s resume is beyond extensive and goes all the way back to The Running Man in 1987. The traps are ingeniously designed, combining practical effects with minimal CGI to maintain a realistic and gritty feel. This approach enhances the film’s impact, making the scenes of violence and horror more tangible and unsettling.

The best moment is the nightclub massacre at the beginning of the film. It is a particularly complex sequence involving numerous extras, stunts, and practical effects to create a chaotic and horrifying scene. The rotating combine rake took a couple of weeks to design. Once the design was finished, it was sent off to be cut by water jets and put together like a massive Erector Set. Although the actual blades were made of rubber, they also had a set of real blades on hand. For this scene alone, production had over fifty gallons of fake blood, which they shot out of air mortars along with fake guts.

Another star of the show is Gary J. Tunnicliffe, the special effects makeup designer. Tunnicliffe has been working with Dunstan since Feast but has been in the game a lot longer than that. My personal favorite is his work as the makeup sculptor on Ginger Snaps. Not only did he design The Collector’s mask, but he meticulously crafted full bodies to be put on display in the trophy room. It’s that kind of work and dedication you can’t achieve with CGI.

The Collection (2012) – WTF Happened to This Horror Movie?

The combination of the attention to detail in the abandoned hotel’s construction, the intricacy of the traps, and the realistic gore effects all contributed to the film’s chilling atmosphere. These elements, combined with effective use of lighting and sound, ensured that The Collection stood out as a visually and viscerally impactful entry in the horror genre. The dedication to practical effects not only enhanced the realism of the horror but also paid homage to traditional filmmaking techniques, resulting in a more authentic and engaging experience for the audience.

The Collection was released in November 2012 and received mixed reviews. Critics praised its inventive traps, fast pace, and the continuation of the dark narrative from the first film, but some felt it relied too heavily on gore and shock value. Despite this, the film developed a cult following, particularly among horror enthusiasts who appreciated its blend of action and horror.

Because of the cult success, there was considerable excitement about continuing the story, especially with how The Collection ended. In 2019, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton announced a third film, The Collected, aiming to bring back the key characters, including Josh Stewart and Emma Fitzpatrick. Filming began in September 2019, but production encountered several setbacks. After shooting only a few days, the process was abruptly halted. Details about the reasons for these delays have been sparse, but industry insiders point to a combination of financial difficulties, scheduling conflicts, and creative differences. As months turned into years, fans of the series were left in suspense. Occasional updates from the filmmakers suggested a persistent desire to complete the project, but concrete progress remained elusive. The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated efforts to resume production, leading to extended delays and uncertainty about the film’s future. As of now, The Collected remains unfinished. Despite the enthusiasm from the fanbase and the commitment of the creative team, the obstacles to completing the film have proven substantial. Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton have expressed their hope to bring the project to fruition eventually, but no definitive timeline has been provided.

Until that day comes, we at least have two solid films in this series. If you have only seen the first movie or completely skipped it like I originally did, it’s a creative little horror movie worth checking out. And, when you’re finished with that, definitely check out The Collection. With Dunstan and Melton’s go-big or-go-home approach to crafting a horror sequel, I feel they have more than achieved.

A couple of the previous episodes of WTF Happened to This Horror Movie? can be seen below. To see more, head over to our JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

9 Articles Published

Mike Conway has been a film fanatic since the age of 4 ever since his dad, who didn't know any better, took him to see A Nightmare On Elm Street 4. When he's not introducing his own son to horror movies, Mike loves being with his family, listening to and playing metal, pinball, and cooking. After seeing Mallrats as a teen, he was inspired to write his first screenplay and hasn't stopped since. While he has made several short films, he hopes to soon get a feature under his belt. In addition to running the JoBlo Horror YouTube Channel, Mike writes, edits, and narrates for JoBlo Horror Originals. He resides in South Carolina with his wife, son, and four dogs where he's constantly vacuuming up dog hair.