As we learned in “The Collector,” the 2009 torture-horror throwaway from the men who wrote the last eight or nine “Saw’s,” there is a serial killer on the loose whose shtick is setting up complicated booby traps in people’s houses so that he can feed his bloodlust while also deriving lolz. The sequel takes that premise to the all-too-common next step in the evolution of a horror franchise: repetition with a teensy bit of something new.
Once again enthusiastically directed by Marcus Dunston and written by Dunston and Patrick Melton, “The Collection” picks up just after the events of “The Collector,” with a newly redeemed criminal named Arkin (Josh Stewart) now in the custody of the unnamed masked psychopath (Randall Archer). While the city lives in terror of this maniac, a rich girl named Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) goes to a rave at a dance club, which soon becomes the scene of more bloodshed than is typical for such an event. But Arkin gets free, making him the only person who has been to the Collector’s lair and come out alive.
Just as “The Collector” was set almost entirely in one location over the course of one night, “The Collection” moves us to the killer’s headquarters, as Arkin leads a group of mercenaries hired by Elena’s father into the heart of darkness. The heart of darkness in this case is an abandoned hotel whose many small rooms and narrow hallways would make any sadistic killer, his trophies, and his still-living victims feel at home.
(Why we need mercenaries instead of the police is not adequately explained, by the way. The team leader, Lucello, played by Lee Tergesen, says it’s because “I’ll do things the police won’t,” but that doesn’t prove to be the case. It seems irresponsible, at the very least, not to share the location of the Collector’s hideout with the cops once Arkin guides Lucello’s people to it.)
This probably sounds like a perfectly good setup for a bloody horror flick about traps and torture. And it is. A perfectly good setup, I mean. But everyone knows that these things are all about the execution (people say that so often, in fact, that it no longer needs to be accompanied by “no pun intended”), and there’s very little creativity on display in “The Collection.” The traps tend to be the standard kind where you step on nails, or the kind where you trip a wire and something sharp shoots out of the wall or swings down from the ceiling. Except for one cleverly gruesome sequence involving a broken bone, if you’ve seen anything else in this genre, you’ve seen what Dunston and Melton are up to here. The dialogue offers no ingenuity either, being mostly on the order of intense declarations like “He’s picking us off one by one!”
That doesn’t make it a bad movie, necessarily, just a familiar one. The deja vu continues as the Collector follows the pattern of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers and develops what must be supernatural powers: able to move instantly from one corridor to another, to survive all manner of injury, and to know where his pursuers and victims are at all times. Don’t Dunston and Melton, as fans of horror movies, get tired of unstoppable killing machines who are not bound by the usual laws of time and space?
But it’s a slick-looking film, with higher production values than you’d expect, and obviously made by guys who enjoyed what they were doing. If your diet requires you to ingest a certain amount of cinematic blood and mayhem every week, this will meet those needs, like a vitamin. Otherwise it’s for collectors only.
C- (1 hr., 22 min.; )