According to some reports, The Collector was written to be the prequel to the Saw franchise. Written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, the penmen behind Saw IV, V and the upcoming Saw VI, it's hard to argue otherwise. It's clear that they have been greatly influenced because The Collector is practically a Saw clone. The difference here is that I appreciate Saw for what it does: deliver a solid, if at this point overdone continuing story with a fascinating villain and (mostly) intelligent twists. The Collector has none of these traits. It's a tremendous disaster, a complete waste of time for everyone involved and a project I would shamefully keep off of my resume had I participated in its production.
The film follows Arkin (Josh Stewart), who plans on breaking into his boss's house to steal a valuable item worth lots of money because his wife needs to pay off a loan shark by midnight. Once he arrives, he finds that he isn't alone and that somebody else has already broken in and is keeping the family hostage in the basement, torturing them and rigging the house full of traps. Arkin becomes the unwitting participant in this sick man's games and tries to free his captives.
There were times during The Collector when I wasn't quite sure what the hell was going on. I thought perhaps I had missed something along the way, thinking to myself, "Surely this movie isn't that complicated," and it's not. The story isn't so much incoherent as it is simply nonexistent. What little story arc there is has to do with the body count rather than a natural story progression. The only way I could tell it was nearing the ending was through keeping a tally of all the prominent characters and counting down as each one was killed. Unfortunately, that's not a story. That's a snuff film.
Despite its similarities to the Saw franchise, The Collector doesn't even come close to matching what its genre brothers have done. In the earlier films (forget the later ones), each trap had a specific function: to see how far one would go to live. There was always a way out. The traps in The Collector are designed to keep people in, and are rigged all throughout the house, but serve no immediate purpose. His victims are already bound and gagged down in the basement with no way of escape, short of outside intervention. One can't help but wonder why the Collector decided to take the time to set up such elaborate traps in every room of the house knowing his victims were securely fastened already. Was he expecting company?
As for the traps themselves, it's an absurd thought (and a hilarious discussion with friends afterwards) when trying to piece together just when he found the time to set them all up, including in rooms where his victims would never go even if they were to escape. (Why rig the upstairs bedrooms? The doors are much more likely.) What's even more ridiculous is that this film takes place all in one day and the daytime scenes with Arkin and his co-workers show that the house is completely normal. With such intricate traps, it would take the Collector days to set them all up, but he does it in a matter of hours (if not minutes in some cases). One trap shows a staircase with hundreds of nails embedded in it, not just placed there, but literally built into the wood. Did he construct this entire staircase? For that matter, where the hell does it lead? Nobody goes up or down it the entire movie and there are two separate staircases leading to the basement and upstairs area. What is going on!?! It's painfully apparent that logic was an afterthought to the traps.
The Collector spared no expense when it came to its attempts at keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, using every horror cliché in the book, including ominous music, quick cuts, a ridiculous amount of fog so obviously generated by a machine that it was embarrassing, and quick flashes of lightning accompanied by a loud thunder strike (though that's not how it works; thunder actually follows lightning because sound moves slower than...oh, never mind).
What's really sad is that you can tell the filmmakers thought they were making something really clever and spooky, taking the movie on with confidence, but this is a clear case of a film that tries much too hard. Though light on story, the premise is interesting and could have worked well, but instead ends up as one giant mess with plot holes so big you could fit Kanye West's ego through it, ranking it among the worst movies I've seen this year.
If that isn't enough, the film has one of the most obvious "who's the killer" reveals in cinema history, with one giant clue so freaking clear that I wanted to stand up and tell everybody that I had figured it out, but then I realized how unfulfilling of an accomplishment that was because chances are they all had too.
With a cruel spirit and grimy aesthetics, The Collector could have been depressing, but it's too damn stupid to be as such.
The Collector receives 0.5/5