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DVD Review: The Collector (2009)

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The Collector (which, showing my small reference pool, is a title I associate with The Simpsons) is a film about a serial killer who has way too much time on his hands. Given prep time of a few hours, he manages to set up elaborate tripwires and traps.

The basic premise is thus: the protagonist needs to get some money because his wife can’t solve her own problems and has foolishly taken money from loan sharks. So he decides to rob the house of his employer but finds them all inside being horribly tortured by the title killer. Now he must save them all from a grisly fate. Can’t remember the last time that happened to me.

The Collector is clearly based on a good idea that one of the writers must’ve had at some point, once they’d tweaked it from being the planned Saw prequel. The collector takes one person from each house and puts them in a box that he places in the next one for the victims to open (pretty much a baited trap). Once they open it, that’s his cue to go nuts. Presumably he wouldn’t bother if they didn’t open it. That puts a hilarious image in my mind of him sheepishly wandering into the house and picking up the unopened box while his would-be victims watch him blankly.

The actors play their roles well (including Madeline Zima from the recently-cancelled series Heroes, who gets a semi-naked scene) and act how you would expect a family being tortured to act. Which is fair enough, really.

This is definitely not a film for the light hearted. Some of the nicer highlights include a guy losing the skin from his fingers to a razor blade coated window; a different guy gets a chandelier covered in knives dropped on him and a cat being guillotined by a window. Believe me, the last one makes perfect sense in context but it still made me laugh.

The DVD comes with a few extras, such as a commentary from the writers (which I would’ve listened to but I had no desire to see the film again) and a few deleted scenes, as well as an alternate ending that actually made me laugh. Part of me thinks that I would prefer it to what actually happened (which is presumably there to give the sequel less explaining to do).

This film comes from the writers behind Saws 4 through 7 (which is IN GLORIOUS 3D, apparently), and it shows in every trap, every bloody hook and every tripwire within that house. Do not think me squeamish; I liked the first Saw movie and thought it was genuinely well done (especially the final twist), but as I was watching this I thought it was too over the top. To the extent that the Collector of the title would need years of planning just to do half of the stuff that he does throughout the film, although as we see he doesn’t get that long.

While tripwires that operate mechanisms to kill are nothing new in themselves (again, think Saw 1), this guy takes it to a whole new level. Seriously, The Collector is the Rube Goldberg of execution devices. I was half expecting the Family Guy Breakfast Machine to make an appearance at some point.

No doubt this gorefest would please Saw fanatics while they wait for the next one but anyone else (and I mean anyone – even if you liked other horror this probably won’t appeal to you) would be better off staying away from the box.

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