Collar (2014)

collardvdStarring Nick Principe, Aidan Dee, Mihola Terzic, Ronald Patrick Thompson, Frederick Levasseur

Written and directed by Ryan Nicholson

Distributed by Unearthed Films

Ryan Nicholson is a beast of a filmmaker. He’s an amazing special effects artist as well as an underground indie writer/director beloved by his fans for his no holds barred approach to creating movies. His production company, Plotdigger Films, is well known for projects that have no boundaries like Gutterballs, Famine, and Hanger.

Those who love Nicholson’s past work will certainly be impressed by Collar as well, as it is another prime example of the filmmaking style that has made him an underground legend.

The most brilliant move Nicholson made in creating Collar was casting Nick Principle to play the lead role of the psychotic, murderous homeless vagrant fittingly named Massive. Principe has no spoken lines but is, by far, the most powerful piece of the film. He plays the role of Massive basically silently, save for a few random growls and guttural sounds. Principe’s performance is reminiscent of the iconic work of Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. He’s big, he’s mute, and he’s completely volatile and unpredictable. Massive is the thing true nightmares are made of.

Unfortunately, after Massive, there isn’t another character that bears mentioning. In fact, Collar becomes entrapped in a snare many indie productions with a similar budget find themselves in. They manage to get one strong actor to appear in their movie, and as cool as that is, it exacerbates the shortcomings of the cast as a whole. We’re dealing with a group of actors who are new to filmmaking and still honing their art. They come across as stiff and forced. And when compared to Principe’s powerful work as Massive, the rest of the cast seems that much weaker by comparison.

That being said, fans of Nicholson’s films are not tuning in to see acting at its finest. Those who saw Gutterballs and Hanger know that their strength is not in the performances or the story. (Indeed, the plot for Collar is a little weak as well, but again, that isn’t why fans are dialing this movie up.) Ryan Nicholson is a stellar special F/X artist, and his work in Collar is absolutely stunning. Effects of this level simply do not exist in films with this type of budget. Nicholson knows how to make magic. He obviously has plenty of tricks up his sleeve for making a low-budget movie look outstanding, and he delivers in spades. One particular kill with a broken beer bottle will simply blow you away, the F/X work is that good.

So what do we have here? We’ve got a director with a special F/X pedigree in Nicholson who’s enlisted the services of gigantic horror mainstay Nick Principe. Together, the pair can probably take on the world. And indeed, they worked well together making a horror movie. However, really stiff acting by the rest of the cast and a bare bones story with a hokey ending detract from the power of Collar.

Ultimately, viewers’ enjoyment of this movie is going to be rooted in what they expect from it. If you’re looking for a brilliantly acted, deep narrative, then Collar is going to leave you disappointed. But if you’re in it for crazy F/X work and some real, vile depravity, then look no further than Collar. It’s as filthy as it gets.

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Scott Hallam

We all go a little mad sometimes...haven't you?

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