31 Days of Halloween: Day 04 – The Collection

A movie review article by: Paul Brian McCoy

This Schlocktober, Comics Bulletin will be exploring the world of horror cinema, featuring thirty one notable films released between Halloween 2012 and Halloween 2013. Next up is director/co-writer Marcus Dunstan's The Collection.

In 2009, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton teamed up to write what was intended to be a Saw prequel, but when it was dismissed by the producers of the franchise, they tweaked it and made The Collector (which has nothing to do with the classic novel The Collector by John Fowles or the classic 1965 William Wyler film adaptation). Not surprisingly, it carried over many of the themes and ideas of the Saw movies, but was a very exciting fresh start with a morally-compromised hero, Arkin (Josh Stewart), and a surprisingly effective twist ending.

Having been a HUGE fan of the Feast series, I couldn't wait to see it and was disturbingly, disgustingly satisfied with what Dunstan and Melton put on the screen.

The 2012 sequel, The Collection, picks up shortly after the conclusion of The Collector, as the killer murders dozens (hundreds?) of people at a "secret" party. Before it's all said and done, the Collector has kidnapped teen heiress Elena Peters (Emma Fitzpatrick), but Arkin has escaped the madman's signature red trunk. The film then takes an interesting turn as Lucello (Lee Tergesen), the right-hand man of Elena's father (Christopher McDonald) recruits Arkin to lead a team of mercenaries to the Collector's lair in an attempt to rescue his daughter. What's in it for him? How about the clearing up of Arkin's criminal record?

That's a hard bargain to pass up, but needless to say, it won't be as easy as walking them to the Collector's door and collecting his reward.

There's more of an action vibe this time out, with a nod or two (at least thematically) to Die Hard, as the mercenary group infiltrates the Collector's base: the abandoned Hotel Sargento. I assume that's a very subtle reference to the Italian horror master and not an obvious reference to the Cheese.

Of course there are booby-traps galore, tons of gore, and a strange guest-appearance by Alphas' Erin Way as the freaked-out Stockholm Syndrome victim Abby.

I'm not the only one who loved Alphas and Erin Way, right?

You may have noticed a recurring theme in these 31 Days of Halloween reviews so far: freshness. If your film is a sequel that builds on what came before in an innovative new way, and still maintains the spirit of the original, I'm going to be more lenient with my review. I don't want to see the same thing over and over. I want novelty in my horror, and while The Collection hits a lot of the same torture-porn beats as The Collector, by kicking it into a larger scale with a dash of genre blending thrown in, I was won over.

It also helps that Josh Stewart is a West Virginia boy and we've gotta stick together (check out the trailer to his writing/directorial debut, The Hunted).


Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.

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