by Eric D. Snider
Released: July 31, 2009
"The Collector" is billed as coming from the writers of "Saw IV," "Saw V," and the upcoming "Saw VI" -- as if that's a selling point. "Hey, you know the guys who have driven an already-dubious franchise into the ground with dull stories and increasingly desperate gimmicks? Well, they wrote this, too!"
The "Saw" connection is no surprise, as "The Collector" -- written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan and directed by Dunstan -- feels like a generic, bare-bones version of a "Saw" movie. It has all the gruesome traps but none of the wit, imagination, or plot twists (which have been in short supply the last couple of "Saw" outings, too). Our bland hero is a generic ex-con named Arkin (Josh Stewart) who now works as a locksmith, though he still does some safecracking as a supplement to his income. Desperate to help his wife (ex-wife? girlfriend?) pay off some loan sharks, he breaks in to a house where he recently did some legitimate work to steal whatever is in the owners' wall safe. How Arkin knows for sure that the safe contains something valuable (as opposed to just important documents or a gun) the movie doesn't tell us. The movie only barely remembers to show us a flashback of him learning of the safe's existence.
Much to Arkin's chagrin, he discovers upon reentering the home that another bad guy is already there. This is a major faux pas among burglars, and it's why you're supposed to register your planned heists with the union first. The other guy (played by Juan Fernandez) is masked and silent and has rigged the house with a variety of fiendish traps, though not a very wide variety. Most of them are the basic "trip a wire; cause a sharp thing to swing down and stab you" kind. The windows and doors have all been rigged, too (except, I guess, for the one Arkin entered through). In the basement, the wife (Andrea Roth) and the husband (Michael Reilly Burke) are held captive. Their two daughters, a teenager and a little girl, are unaccounted for. Arkin, who may be a thief but is actually a GOOD GUY (he has a daughter, too!), now feels morally obligated to save some lives.
And you know what? That's pretty much it. There's some torture, a lot of blood, some deaths, the usual routine, but without any suspense or ingenuity. The only surprise is how unsurprising it is -- no last-minute revelations, no shocking twists, no nothin'. This is brutal, senseless torture porn reduced to its most basic elements, all of that useless "creativity" and "cleverness" discarded as unnecessary.
Rated R, a lot of harsh profanity, some nudity, abundant graphic violence, blood, and torture
1 hr., 28 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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