HORRORATHON Film Review: The Collector (2009)

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Starring: Josh Stewart and Juan Fernandez

Directed: Marcus Dunstan

Reviewed by: CinematiChris

You ever have one of those films that for the longest time you love and hold to high standards, then go to rewatch one day only to find out it’s nowhere near as great as you’d thought? That really sums up my current feelings in regards to 2009’s The Collector.

Arkin (Josh Stewart) is an ex con seriously down on his luck. He’s barely making ends meet to take care of his wife and daughter, and he just ended a job as a handyman for a wealthy family. When he tries to talk to his wife after work, he finds out his wife owes a ton of money to local loan sharks, who’ll be coming at midnight to collect. In an act of desperation, he makes an arrangement with them to steal a valuable ruby from the family whose house he just finished on. At first, all is well, and he gets to the vault just fine, but as he’s about to grab the ruby, a mysterious masked figure sneaks in the house and locks him in, along with a large assortment of traps, including razor wire on the the walls, acid paste, and many blade and spike traps…

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Arkin’s prospects of making it through the night are slim at best…

One of the film’s biggest problems is the acting. Besides Stewart’s performance as Arkin, none of the actors really shine. Not that the writing gives them much opportunity to. Most of the characters we see just scream and moan from what the eponymous villain puts them through.

The biggest compliment I can give this film is the setup of dread it provides. There are two scenes in particular where it seems like you could cut the tension with a knife, and though I want to spoil them,  they would best go unspoiled if you haven’t seen this little-known thriller, especially if you like to critique horror films as you watch or put yourself in the character’s shoes figuratively. It also has some really impressive makeup/gore effects and a great design for the Collector himself. He’s the perfect mix between monstrous enough to recognize, and human enough to think he could be real, and is definitely intimidating.

From the perspective of an unbiased critic, the film is an intriguing watch with many flaws. The editing can be weird and jumpy at times, the acting of the majority of the cast isn’t great, the film frequently borders on torture porn at parts, but the tension and the struggle Arkin goes through make the film seriously worth checking out.

Critique score: 6.0

And seeing as this is a new HorrorAthon this year, why don’t we add some new scores to our final critique system for this month. Let’s introduce our 3 new categories! They are: Gore, a system judging both the quality and amount of that vein-pumped fluid in the material (unnecessary in films that don’t have it); Fright Factor, a judgement on how tense or fear-inducing the overall product could be; and Beware!, a brief description of trigger warnings/ possible fears the film preys on.

Gore: 9/10. Quality gore FX, in massive amounts. Few make it out of the film without one or more grievous injury or at least some psychological trauma from witnessing it.

Fright Factor: 6.5. Tense, but not the scariest film ever. Without setting up the characters besides Arkin, we don’t get super attached, and thus, are less worried if/when they’re attacked. Plus, a MO isn’t set up for the Collector, so we as an audience don’t have the proper fear we need to make him a true icon of the genre. Yet…

Beware!: Home invasion, animal attacks, insects, mutilation, kidnapping, claustrophobia.

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