The Collector (2009) – WTF Happened to This Horror Movie?

The latest episode of WTF Happened to This Horror Movie digs into Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton’s The Collector

The episode of WTF Happened to This Horror Movie? covering The Collector was Written by Ric Soloman, Narrated by Travis Hopson, and Edited by Ric Solomon, Produced by Andrew Hatfield and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

Back in the 2000s, one horror franchise would reign supreme over all others… Saw. From 2004 to 2010, seven films were released and each was more gruesome than the next. People usually break the franchise down into different groups as to which is their favorite. There’s the original trilogy, which most would say is where the best films stem from. It’s also where Leigh Whannell, James Wan and Darren Lynn Bousman had the most control over the franchise. There’s the middle trilogy, which most tend to hate and believe the series jumped the shark. Then there’s 7-9 where it consists of a 3D film, a film entitled Jigsaw and a spinoff called Spiral starring Chris Rock. There’s even a new film releasing in fall of 2023 aptly named Saw X. Let’s go back to the middle trilogy. There are two writers we want to discuss here, and their names are Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. These two are responsible for actually writing something great and no it’s not a Saw film. That film is entitled The Collector (watch it HERE). It’s a small indie horror film that came out in 2009 and was made on the same budget as a Saw film. Today, we’re going to discuss WTF Happened To This Horror Movie.

In 2005, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan won Season Three of Project Greenlight with their screenplay entitled Feast. In the film, bar patrons, who are at a remote desert in the middle of nowhere, find themselves trapped inside when a group of deadly and odd looking creatures begin to attack them. The group must come together to defend themselves from the onslaught of these monsters. The film would be produced by Dimension Films and would go on to span two sequels that Patrick and Marcus co-wrote. Because of their first film, it caught the attention of an executive producer of the Saw franchise. That producer would also read their script for a film they were working on entitled The Midnight Man.

During Saw IV’s production, the duo realized they were stepping into a tricky situation, given the serialized nature of the Saw films. Darren Lynn Bousman and the crew watched over them to make sure they would come up with a new way to invigorate the franchise. Patrick and Marcus had no trouble in bringing Jigsaw back despite his death in Saw III. Rewrites would take place which would lead many unused ideas into Saw V. In 2008, the duo pitched their script, The Midnight Man to Twisted Pictures. It was originally intended to be a Saw spinoff prequel, as an origin story for John Kramer aka Jigsaw. The producers, Mark Burg and Oren Koules, opposed the idea and dismissed it, leading to their script getting reworked into an original story.

The Collector (2009) – WTF Happened to This Horror Movie?

The plot for The Collector follows Arkin, a handyman and ex-con, who plans to rob a wealthy family’s home to pay off his debts. However, when he arrives, he discovers that the house is rigged with deadly traps set by a sadistic serial killer known as the Collector. Arkin must navigate the treacherous traps and save the family before falling victim to the Collector himself.

When Marcus Dunstan announced to his producing team he wanted to direct, he set off to make a sizzle reel aka an extended trailer of the proposed film. He reunited with many of his friends from Feast and employed John Gulager as his cinematographer, and used actors Clu Glulager to play Roy and Tom Gulager to play as Arkin. It was this reel that was used to sell the pitch to Dimension Films, who put up the money to produce the film. Before its release, Dimension chose not to put a P&A budget into the movie and opted to release it directly to DVD. However, Dimension gave the filmmakers a chance to sell the film. The Collector was dropped by the cash-strapped studio after they didn’t have the funds to release it. Lidell Entertainment snatched up the rights from Dimension Films. Liddell organized the reshoots and changed the title from The Midnight Man to The Collector.

The cast included Josh Stewart, Michael Reilly Burke, Andrea Roth, Karley Scott Collins, Madeline Zima aka Grace Sheffield from The Nanny, and Juan Fernandez as The Collector himself.

The budget for The Collector was $3 million. Filming would begin in Spring 2008 around Shreveport, Louisiana with the production lasting only 19 days. They would use 16mm film stock. The final scene in the film was part of a reshoot that was shot in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.

There are several traps that The Collector would set up in and around the house. The most iconic is the bear trap. It consisted of a large metal bear trap that would be designed to snap shut on the victim’s head. There was also the razor wire maze, the inverted bear trap, the ceiling hooks, the antler trap, the jaw splitter and the acid bath. These traps would add to the intense and disturbing nature of this movie.

The Collector doesn’t explicitly reveal his motive in the same way that some movie villains might…or talk for that matter. He just breathes very heavily, more like an old man on a ventilator instead of menacing like Darth Vader. However, his actions and behavior throughout the film suggest certain possible motives and characteristics like his sadistic pleasure he gets from inflicting pain and suffering on his victims. His artistic expression involves him using his victims as living canvases to create gruesome and macabre works of art. Since his traps are designed with such intricate precision, it suggests he has a certain quest for perfection in his sadistic creations and meticulously plans every detail. The lack of an explanation adds to the already unsettling and mysterious nature of him, which only enhances the horror and tension of the story.

In the film, you can see how the colors heavily affect the overall mood and feel. There is pumped contrast all over the screen. While this may bother some, it works to the film’s advantage. The use of green and blue lighting is gorgeous and gives the look of a dark, grungy, gritty and all around nasty feel. While the film is a very gruesome one, the colors invoke more feeling from the audience, especially during some very uncomfortable scenes.

The Collector hit theaters on July 31, 2009. It opened in 11th place with a gross of $3 million. This was also the first week of Judd Apatow’s Funny People as well as the forgotten film, Aliens in the Attic. It would go on to gross $7 million domestically and have a worldwide total of $10 million.

It currently holds an average 28% on Rotten Tomatoes with the critical consensus saying it’s “increasingly tedious display of gore makes this torture porn home-invasion horror more programmatic than provocative.” Clay Cane of BET said “You will squirm, but aren’t we getting a bit desensitized to these routine torture flicks?” Bloody Disgusting would give it the most praise by saying “The Collector is a raw, gritty and uncompromising horror film that puts previous Saw films to shame.”

The Collector (2009) – WTF Happened to This Horror Movie?

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 6, 2010. A rental version was made available on February 12, 2010 through Blockbuster Video’s Exclusive Line. The DVD would include two deleted scenes, an alternate ending, audio commentary of the filmmakers and a music video to Nico Vega’s Beast.

Because of its modest success, a sequel was greenlit and titled The Collection. Patrick Melton would go on to say that he was surprised that a sequel was being asked for because he didn’t think it was going to happen. Mickey Liddell, the film’s producer, made a deal for Patrick and Marcus to write the film and have Marcus direct the sequel. The film was released on November 30, 2012 and was considered a flop… but that’s a story for another time.

Back in 2009, I was on a huge horror craze and would watch anything “The people from Saw” would put out. I was one of the few patrons who went to the movies that weekend, after seeing Funny People, and saw this film. I was very impressed with the visuals and just how gruesome it was. On rewatches over the years, I’ve always had a fondness for it and even own it on DVD.

The film excels at creating an atmosphere of dread and despair. The claustrophobic setting of the trapped house and the relentless pursuit of The Collector keep viewers on edge, unsure of what twisted horrors will unfold next. However it doesn’t shy away from its brutal and graphic content. The violence and gore can be overwhelming, pushing the boundaries of what some audiences might be comfortable with.

The character development takes a backseat to the harrowing traps and suspenseful sequences, like most Saw films. The film’s characters are caught in a deadly game with limited opportunities for in-depth exploration.

In the end, The Collector succeeds in delivering a visceral horror experience. Its unrelenting tension, innovative traps, and shocking brutality make it a memorable entry. While not for the faint of heart, or squeamish, it’s an undeniable rollercoaster of terror that left its mark on the horror landscape. Just make sure you don’t become part of his collection.

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

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.