Collector, The (2009)

The Collector (click for larger image)Reviewed by SeanD.

Starring Josh Stewart, Daniella Alonso, Michael Reilly Burke, Andrea Roth, Juan Fernández

Directed by Marcus Dunstan

As a production journalist, I generally defer from actually reviewing film, as I find it a conflict of professional interest. The definition of “uncomfortable” can at times can be defined as the experience of attending a screening of a filmmaker’s latest effort – one which you’ve spend time on the set of – only to realize that the film lies flat, and then have to alert the filmmaker of such.

Priding myself on journalistic integrity and brutal honesty, I’ve found myself in the past in such an unappealing situation, which is why reviewing film is an exercise fraught with danger. Fortunately for me this isn’t the case with Marcus Dunstan’s feature directorial debut The Collector, which as the flick’s marketing campaign touts, is most certainly “The must see horror film of the summer.

In a nutshell, the film follows the trials and tribulations of a thief who, in an attempt to pay off a loan shark badgering his ex-wife (and by proxy his daughter), takes a job burglarizing a rural manse, only to find that a masked killer has already entered the abode – one who is hard at work terrorizing its inhabitants with a series of brutal traps.

Scripted by Dunstan and long-time collaborator Patrick Melton (the duo behind Dimensions’ Feast franchise and Saw IV thru VI) and originally titled Midnight Man, The Collector (which releases wide Friday, July 31 via Freestyle Releasing) is a leap forward for the writers. Eschewing the endearing “splat-stick” qualities of the Feast films and unhindered by the sometimes convoluted narrative threads they inherited upon their Saw franchise inclusion, The Collector is a taut thrill ride, short on exposition, punctuated with cringe-inducing violence and rife with many a clever twist and turn.

The Collector (click for larger image)Dunstan, in conjunction with cinematographer Brandon Cox and production designer Ermanno Di Febo-Orsini, imbues the flick with a visually stylized yet muted palette and an engaging nastiness that’s pure eye candy. Cameras soar over walls and through keyholes and lovingly caress the myriad death traps actor Josh (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) Stewart (as lead “Arkin,” the thief trapped by the masked “Collector”) must confront. Practical effects by Gary Tunnicliffe command attention as well and, while certainly wet enough to cause cheer in any genre fan, work as well to inspire empathy for Arkin, who finds himself determined to save the family he once intended to rob.

Other production values are equally solid (the visual effects provided by Dunstan’s personal assistant turned wuderkind VFX supervisior David Karlak are seamless), and the end result is a deliberately paced flick which elevates itself from the sub-genre of “torture porn” and ascends to Grand Guignol.

Produced by Fortress Features’ Brett Forbes and Patrick Rizzotti and Imaginarium Entertainment Group’s Julie Richardson, The Collector delivers in the casting department as well, which is rounded out by Daniella (The Hills Have Eyes 2) Alonso, Michael Reilly Burke, Andrea Roth, Karley (Pulse 2) Scott-Collins, Robert Wisdom and Madeline Zima (whose third act, unsuccessful kitchen countertop tryst with her boyfriend lends The Collector the horror genre’s requisite production value).

Juan Fernández as the titular character delivers too – his masked visage is downright unnerving, Machiavellian and at times entirely perverted, all the while eliciting curiosity as to what exactly his motives are. One thing’s for certain: His lack of empathy for household pets is on par with his complete disregard for the well-being of the flick’s protagonists. In The Collector nothing is sacred, and while the violence serves the narrative without being superfluous (as edited by Alex Luna and James Mastracco, the action is a crisp and jarring), Dunstan clearly also realizes that which horror fans desire: a leap from their seats.


4 out 5

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  • ReggieR22

    i actually liked the film. it delivered and was entertaining. i hope they make a sequel.

  • The Butcher

    The Buz has spoken.

    The Butcher has listened.

    *Puts money back in wallet*

  • MrCairo

    Wasn’t aware they had a hand in Feast 2…which in my 40+ years of movie watching was the absolute worst waste of money and ability I’ve ever seen, period. Wasn’t funny, wasn’t scary…was vile and repulsive on every level with absolutely no redeeming quality whatsoever (imo lol)


    Too bad…I was interested a bit after seeing the trailer.

    Thx for the heads up Boggy!

  • PelusaMG

    Saw this last night and liked it a lot. Okay , so there were some ‘issues’ (such as *** Spoilers *** how two grown men wearing boots were able to creep around a house late at night unheard, except when walking on the dodgy step, and how one person could set up all those those various traps so quickly (again, unheard *** End spoilers ***)), but the film delivers in the violence and gore dept. time and again. Oh, and Madeline Zima’s breasts are outstanding!

    Although the last ten minutes dragged a little for me, I thought the film was generally well-paced, tense, well directed, looked great, and had (for once) a super scary killer. Worth going to see; worth buying on DVD – 4/5 knives!

  • kiddcapone

    The movie is pure garbage. I’ll never take anyones opinion serious again if they give this pile of dog shit a good review.

  • The Buz

    Let me be the first to come out and say I was incredibly disappointed with The Collector. Just because some kid got his hands on final cut color correction, you call that good cinematography?

    Sorry, nothing about the look in this film was good. Composition sucked, all the colors bled in the worst way, and it was all shit we’ve seen over and over and over again. Since when did cinematography become something you did in post? Fuck that. To say this film had good cinematography is way off base.

    The plot is utterly ridiculous to the point I felt like I was watching Home Alone 10, the rated R cut. I swear to god if McCuly Culkin was hidden under that mask I would not have been surprised. There was even a fucking spider! I was waiting for it to drop on someones face and for them to scream.

    I can already hear the defense too:
    “Of course it’s ridiculous, it’s just fun! Turn your brain off!”

    I don’t want to turn my brain off when I watch a movie! I want to enjoy it. I want to be entertained. If you’re going to have a far fetched plot where a killer some how makes 50 different contraptions around a house all in one afternoon that would normally take days to do, then throw in some fun. The tone in the movie is ULTRA serious. The only bit where Dunstan’s humor creeps in is with the


    Exploding dog bit. Which I laughed at.


    The movie was that bullshit faux grittiness that we’ve seen a thousand times over and over in the Saw movies and that other torture porn bullshit. It’s not entertaining, it’s just shocking for the sake of shock.

    Don’t get me wrong, there were some great moments in the film that I was delighted with. The choice of music and editing to these scenes were fantastic, one of which being the girl and boyfriend making out on the table while the collector watches. The song choice, lightning, camera work, all very good here. But one or two scenes doesn’t make a movie. And it sucks too because there was a really cool idea here.

    In the end though, all we’re left with is Saw leftovers. While better than the Saw movies, still wasn’t great.

    1 1/2 to 2 knives. Can’t decide. All I know is I want my 80 minutes back.

    • Mr. Gray

      I’m with Buz; I’d give it two knives. I didn’t hate it–there are worse ways to spend an afternoon–hanging from hooks in your back, for example–but I didn’t take anything away from it, either. There will be no reason to ever see it again.

      You have to ignore an awful lot of logic to enjoy it. While that can be forgivable in a movie that makes up for it with the fun factor, in a movie like this, it’s a pretty much inexcusable. All they had to do was think it through a bit and do some minor rewrites.

      Also, it’s kind of lame to call the killer “The Collector” for no real reason. Sure, the guy in the box said that he collects the victims he likes, but we didn’t see any of that. He pretty much just kills them all.

      I suppose he collected Arkin and the box guy, but since whoever’s in the box gets used as bait, he’s not really collecting them, is he?

    • doubleh55

      If you want your 80 Minutes back, why don’t you just give it zero knives?

      • The Buz

        Because even movies I don’t like still have redeeming qualities. To give a film zero knives just because I did not enjoy it would be hyperbole. It wasn’t a zero knife movie by any stretch.

        However the redeeming qualities were not enough for me not to wish I hadn’t seen it. Make sense?

        • doubleh55

          No but I do think it’s nice of you to at least throw them a bone and give them one knife.

          • The Buz

            When did it become such a fad to review reviews?

            I mean dude, if you really want to know, Marcus Dunstan paid Sean and I like 10,000 each for one of us to really like his movie and write a glowing review, and one of us to really dislike his movie and write a scathing review, yet still throw it a few knives. We did it that way so no one would notice we were paid off. Your conspiracy theory is absolutely correct! WE ARE ALL CORPORATE WHORES! We can’t hide anything from you internet talkbackers can we? 😉

  • Nomad

    It’s a damn good time. It makes zero sense if you try and inject logic into it but the pacing is perfect, the sound mix is killer, the music is awesome and the creep factor is very high. Some great kills as well and the direction is super slick.

  • doubleh55

    I’m not saying this movies is going to be good or bad but I really don’t trust these “reviews” written by people in the industry.

    • Uncle Creepy

      Ummm … everyone writing here for the site is a person in the industry.

      • doubleh55

        That’s why I trust you the least 🙂

      • Foywonder

        I am? Why am I the last to hear these things? All these years wasted when I could have been pitching my screenplays for BIGFOOTLOOSE and DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER IS R. KELLY.

  • The Unknown Murderer

    What’s this movie about?

    • Gus Bjork

      I had the same reaction reading it. It is it a review or an audition piece for the reviewer?

      • Uncle Creepy

        Well he does write the movie’s “short on exposition”! You know when putting it up I didn’t realize Sean forgot a quick plot synopsis. All fixed. 😉

  • BoggyCreekBeast

    After Feast 2, it’s going to take quite a bit for me to trust wasti- er, spending my money on anything these guys wrote again.