The Collector was a small film that received a limited theatrical release in theaters without getting very much attention. However, I enjoyed it for what it was and it left me excited to see the story continue since 2009. The Collection is the sequel that picks up where the first one left off. Courtesy of LD Entertainment, it will be receiving a nationwide theatrical release, but is it worthy of the upgrade? Coming from a big fan of the horror genre, this isn't the follow-up that we've been hoping for. Gore hounds will enjoy the brutal kills, even though they're generic, but those who want to see creative deaths and a claustrophobic atmosphere won't find any of that.
Arkin (Josh Stewart) escapes the dungeon of the serial killer known as "The Collector" (Randall Archer) in poor condition. In the same moment, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) is abducted by the same man. After a small amount of rest, Arkin is blackmailed by mercenaries hired by Elena's father, Mr. Peters (Christopher McDonald). Since Arkin is the only person to escape "The Collector" alive, the team forces him to tag along and be their guide around the abductor's hideout. Reluctantly, he follows and finds himself fighting for more than just his own life, but Elena's as well.
The carnage begins almost immediately, as it starts with a scene that will surely be loved by horror crowds. Elena is talked into sneaking out to a nightclub with a group of her friends. "The Collector" puts on one of his most brutal spectacles in this club. Soon after, a flimsy plot is given a little bit of time to build. However, the plot's structure feels far too familiar to horror sequels, such as The Descent: Part 2. Audiences will be able to guess which mercenaries will be picked off fairly quickly. There's absolutely no element of surprise in The Collection. However, the screenplay has some really interesting concepts, but doesn't do a lot with them. We're introduced to a disturbing system that's held through this killer's hideout, which I won't spoil for those who end up seeing this. These ideas are quickly explained and then ditched for the remainder of the film, which is disappointing, as they could have heavily improved this picture. Fortunately, "The Collector" remains to be a mysterious figure, which allows him to still make us feel uncomfortable under his creepy mask. As a character, writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton have created a great slasher who is extremely intimidating on the silver screen.
The filmmakers have dramatically shifted the tone between The Collection and its predecessor. While the first film is a pure-blooded horror flick, the sequel has scaled that down and cranked up the action. This type of transition has clearly been inspired by the one seen between Ridley Scott's Alien and James Cameron's Aliens, except it didn't work as well. The horror elements are still present, but nearly every bit of tension the first picture held is gone. The characters are running around the hideout, which is a rigged labyrinth. However, we never get the sense of claustrophobia or panic that could have given this movie a much scarier atmosphere. The pacing is extremely fast, the body count is bigger, and the scale of each death is bigger, although they aren't very imaginative. Slasher flicks have become about more than just the body count, but how each death is acquired. There are plenty of opportunities to create some awesomely grotesque kills, but these have all been done far too many times before. Even after all of the problems I have with the movie, the ending left a good taste in my mouth, as it's one of the most satisfying scenes this picture has to offer. It's an awesome finale that will have fans of the first feature thrilled. It's a shame that we only see this energy during a few key scenes, as it should have been carried through more of the film's running time.
Under the direction of Marcus Dunstan, the cast delivers suitable performances. Josh Stewart returns as Arkin and continues to fit into the role perfectly. He's convincing and is one of the reasons why he's such an entertaining character to follow. Even though this isn't a perfect performance by any means, it's much better than what you'd expect from a horror flick. Emma Fitzpatrick hasn't done very many projects, but she does a fine job here. Even though her character, Elena, makes some absolutely stupid decisions at times, she makes this a more rounded character by delivering her personal charm. Randall Archer has stepped in to replace the previous actor in playing "The Collector." He isn't a very expressive character, but he's able to deliver a lot through body language. This is a crucial element that isn't often appreciated by audiences. Archer is as menacing as the job requires. As far as horror productions go, The Collection's performances aren't bad.
With a considerable budget increase, this sequel definitely looks better than the first film. The nightclub scene at the beginning is sure to leave every person in the movie theater with his or her jaw on the floor. All of the carnage looks incredible on the big screen. Once the story reaches the hideout, I was expecting it to be dark, dirty, and eerie. While it successfully fulfills the first two, it doesn't have the creepy-factor. It's a pretty gross environment filled with people writhing in pain and others already dead. However, I was never on the edge of my seat as Arkin was turning corners in this maze. The cinematography is a big improvement, as it looks much more polished. Those who are looking for a good audio track are sure to find that here. The sound is crucial for this film and it succeeds, as it utilizes each speaker in the theater. This is an impressive visual presentation, even though the building itself should have been creepier.
While The Collection isn't a bad movie, it just isn't the follow-up that fans have been waiting for. The shift to being an action/horror combination doesn't work very well. The body count is bigger, but the causes of these deaths aren't particularly new for the genre, with the exception of the nightclub scene at the beginning. This screenplay actually has some intriguing concepts, but none of them are expanded upon. The building where "The Collector" hides should have taken on a persona of its own. Instead of being a terrifying labyrinth that keeps you on the edge of your seat, it's just a dark and dirty building without much character. After The Collector was initially released in theaters, I found it to be an enjoyable horror picture that created a claustrophobic atmosphere. The sequel never scares and the predictability factor is a little bit too high. Fortunately, the ending will make fans of the first film happy. This action/horror mix has its pros and cons, but it ultimately doesn't pull through as much as it should. The Collection is worth renting for the moments when its horror roots shine through.