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This is a sequel to the 2009 film, The Collector. Arkin, a convicted thief, escapes the grasp of a serial killer with only a broken arm by trading a young woman’s freedom for his own. He’s visited in the hospital by Luchello, the full time chauffeur, part time action hero who works for the father of Elena, the girl he abandoned. Luchello is determined to rescue Elena before the killer does away with her in a most gruesome manner. Arkin agrees to guide Luchello and his team to the place where the killer kept him, under the assumption that Elena will be in the same place. After the killer threw Arkin into a trunk and drove off, he marked the turns on his arm by cutting himself. Arkin never mentions what he cuts himself with, which is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plotholes in this story.
He’s supposed to just bring them there and leave, but Luchello convinces him to stay by threatening him. What good a one-armed thief will be inside the hotel is kind of lost on me, but he’s got to go in for some reason. Luchello’s team consists of three other people, a big tough guy that they leave to watch the door (awesomely smart move), a wiry guy with a big gun, and a girl to bring down the testosterone level. They don’t bring anything but weapons, which, considering they’re entering a lair filled with traps, seems like a big mistake. Come on, a rope, maybe some tools to disarm the traps, something like that? If any of Luchello’s team had ever played a role-playing or video game, they might have had a better chance of escaping alive. That’s not really a spoiler, after all, those people only exist to be hacked to pieces so that the heroine and hero can keep running away from the killer.
There are some good points about The Collection. All the characters have believable motivations, except for the killer, but we’ll get to that. Arkin does feel guilty about leaving Elena behind, but rescuing her at that point wasn’t quite an option. I feel like the writer had a little bit of a difficult time deciding whose story The Collection really was, Arkin’s or Elena’s, and the movie suffers a bit for that.
We like Elena because she’s pretty and plucky and ends up being really resourceful, but she’s just the McGuffin to get Arkin back into the Argento Hotel. I think if the movie had been Arkin’s story at the outset, and we saw him being a guy trying to reform his life after being a criminal before the killer kidnaps him in real time instead of tiny flashbacks, then I would’ve felt a little more attached to him as a character. As it plays out, I’m not sure Arkin was trying to leave crime behind because the movie doesn’t make it quite clear. They give him a wife to make people sympathize with him, but I don’t feel like we really know enough about him for that to work. Out of all the other characters, Luchello has the motivation, but we don’t get to know him in the movie.
The killer is more of a backdrop character than anything else. Like all good villains, he gets the action rolling, but we know barely anything about him other than he takes one victim from the scenes of his murders and they either vanish or turn up dead later. While I can buy a lot of things in movies, I don’t really buy that this killer is so brilliant that he can set up all these traps that kill a lot of people so efficiently, and which all work perfectly every time. He doesn’t appear to have any accomplices, so somehow he’s doing it all alone, which makes less sense than the traps do in the first place. I’m not going to blame Jigsaw for the whole death trap thing, that’s been going on far longer than him, but at least his traps have a twisted reasoning behind them. Here, the traps serve as cool gore/fx set pieces and not much more. And I don’t appreciate the instances of digital bloodletting. It looks fake. It almost always does, and it’s annoying.
The other thing that bothers me about this killer and his collection is that there’s no attempt by any character in the movie to explain why the killer does anything. I’m not asking for a psychological profile or a clear-cut explanation, but an answer that’s a little deeper than the sort of obvious one I can think of on my own; namely that collectors collect, and this is just what he does. It’s not satisfying at all.
The Collection plays one trick that interests me. We never ever see the face of the killer clearly, not even at the end of the film. In some sense the audience doesn’t really need to see anything other than the mask he wears, because that’s his true face anyway. The human face is the real mask, because he’s pretending to be like everyone else. And I really liked that Elena is resourceful and brave enough to escape on her own quite a few times before joining up with the group that’s come looking for her. It’s cool to watch a movie character do things that you know the audience has literally screamed for other characters in other films to do and for those things to work.
The Collection is a good title for this movie, because the script borrows liberally from other horror movies both in and out of the slasher/serial killer sub-genre. Nothing wrong with that, except that the movie doesn’t add its own stamp on anything or take another concept film’s to the next level. There are also some nods to horror films in general, like the name of the hotel, and I’m pretty sure I spotted a tricycle in the background of one scene near the end of the movie.
We’ve seen what this Collection offers in other places, which is a real shame, because I wanted this movie to be more than just another ‘killer uses traps to wipe out people’ movie.
The Collection is in theaters now.