What I'm Watching: The Collector/The Collection
Hey, it's a two for one review!
I recently watched The Collector, finally. Mainly because I saw trailers for The Collection, and realised it was a sequel. Oops. I should watch the first one first, eh?
So I watched them both back to back, and here we are.
The general plot concerns a man who likes to go around to places, rig up elaborate traps, and then proceeds to get off watching his victims try and escape. And fail miserably.
We do not find out who he is.
We do not find out why he's doing this.
We do not find out why he saves people. At least, not entirely.
We DO get hints at these things, but I like that they are slowly dealing out information over the movies, and hope we get another one with some more answers.
I really, really enjoyed both of these movies. Screw the popular reviews, they don't seem to get it. Most of them complain about everything I just said, but not knowing who this guy is, that's part of the point. They're playing on the same terror The Strangers played with, in that we never see these killers' faces, and they could literally be anyone, they could be the guy you walked by on the street, they could be your neighbours, they could be your best friend. That is true terror, right there.
And hey, a little mystery is always fun. Now, if we don't get answers, and the creator does assure us repeatedly that there ARE answers, that is indeed frustrating.
But back to the movies.
The first movie focuses on a single family and their home, and a handyman who is also a recently released ex-con. He gets caught in the mix when he breaks into the house to retrieve something, and ends up being the main rival of the Collector. It's a great dichotomy to have this one criminal striving for redemption going against another criminal who really just doesn't give a shit.
Josh Stewart does a great job as the lead, and with so much of his creeping around the rigged house having to be done in silence to avoid the Collector, he has to do a lot with very little, and he does it amazingly well. The cat and mouse between the two is SO well shot. Both of these, if done poorly, would have killed the movie right there, but both just sing. Great filmmaking.
The second movie deals with the fallout of the first, with Josh's character coming back into contact with the Collector in his base of operations, and with a team of cannon fodder...er, bodyguards with their own agenda that just so happens to coincide.
I prefer the first movie because the scale is more intimate and you get to really get to know everyone very well, and with everything being turned up to 11 for the sequel, you lose a bit of that. But just a bit. The insanity of an entire hotel turned into a series of death traps makes up for maybe a little less care being taken in characterisation.
The story arc for Josh's character in both films is well played, starting with him being the ex-con, wanting to just get in and get out of the house, but slowly finding his courage and rising to the occasion. And the second movie when his courage leaves him, and almost being his downfall. Fortunately there is a resounding moment of the damsel in distress saying screw that, and saving herself AND Josh.
The Collector himself is a great addition to the horror pantheon of bad guys. He holds his own with so many, and I love the way he's played like this insect-like predator. He's calm, quiet, detached, and the way he moves, the way he acts...just a thrill to watch, with almost no dialogue, again. The acting in these movies almost blows me away, within the context of what they're working with.
And yes, you'll hear these are from a few people involved in the later Saw films, but these are SOO much better. And yes, that means gore, but I don't think that got as bad as some people think it did, or maybe afraid of it getting. Just brace your stomach and gives these films a chance if you want some crazy fun action and terror. It's like Home Alone on crack, with the sequel being, and I realise this is a bit of an old, obscure reference, the Hotel Cabal from Gargoyles.