In 2009, as the "Saw" series was petering out in popularity, another trap-based dose of torture porn hit theaters in the form of "The Collector." The story – a thief gets trapped in a house with a psychopathic killer and his "'Home Alone' without a moral compass" traps – wasn't particularly good or memorable, but it provided the kind of dumb, cheap thrills a horror junkie was no longer getting from the exceedingly self-serious and convoluted "Saw" films.
And, since it seems to be a law that all marginally successful (considering "The Collector"'s $7 million gross, a very loose definition of the word successful) horror films merit a sequel, we now have "The Collection." The results are even dumber than the original yet somewhat fascinating, mainly because it has the unwarranted freedom of a movie that clearly never should've been made, yet somehow did.
The debatably feature-length follow-up takes place a short time after the grisly events of the first film. The silent black masked murderer's gruesome M.O. – killing everyone in a house with absurdly elaborate evil traps and then taking a lone survivor back home in a claustrophobic box – has created a reign of terror over the city. An opening newscast even notes that most citizens are afraid to leave home.
That is, except for the town's wily teenagers, who go out to a mysterious rave and get violently axed from the film save for one kidnapped survivor (Emma Fitzpatrick). It's up to Arkin (Josh Stewart), the killer's lone escapee, to lead a renegade SWAT team into the Collector's trap-laden headquarters and save the girl – and themselves for that matter.
"The Collection" is shockingly padded, which makes the fact that it still comes in short (barely at 82 minutes) even more embarrassing. It has both an extended opening credit sequence, as well as an extended ending credit sequence. A predictable car accident scene that starts off the film bears no relevance to the rest of the movie. A tacked-on ending provides no thrills or even any sequel potential. Delete all that padding, and audiences are left with a movie barely an hour long. For $10 a ticket, that's hard to swallow.
The problem isn't the padding itself; it's just focused on the wrong stuff. Instead of spending several minutes with a dance club montage, why not spend that time developing a character?
Instead, we're left awkwardly writing characters and motivations on the fly. After one of his members gets taken, the SWAT team leader yells "I promised I would take care of her," which is breaking news for everyone watching. Other emotions – survivor's guilt, distrust – are also casually tossed in when convenient, but since director Marcus Dunstan and screenwriter Patrick Melton aren't interested in bringing these elements out in the performances and screenplay, it falls flat, and the characters become bland, memorable only for the ways they are brutally dispatched from the film.
Oh, and they certainly are brutally eliminated. The opening nightclub massacre is a horrid orgy of spinning blades, crushed partygoers and bloody splatter. "The Collection" is certainly violent, but the violence doesn't equal scares or even tension. In fact, in most cases, it inspires giggles since the Collector's traps are so preposterously precise and intricate. The killer should turn out to be Rube Goldberg.
That's when the movie isn't just being silly. At one point, it's revealed that the Collector has a zombie army, effectively murdering any pretense of reality. Later on, the Collector pulls out a machine gun. Horror, in my opinion at least, is best served by subtle, dread-filled suspense; a machine gun is the opposite of subtle.
Yet even despite itself, "The Collection" almost manages to entertain, mostly due to its nonsensical absurdity. It's filmed with a surprising amount of color, a refreshing change from most horror films' monotonous browns and greys. A rare gore-free sequence involving a glitchy light bulb is surprisingly well crafted as well. For the most part, though, the film's lunacy, not its scares or skill, is what keeps the audience interested.
Sometimes, blood-soaked lunacy can work (my beloved "Piranha 3D"), but "The Collection" feels like it's throwing things at the audience in desperation. It's a movie that exists but isn't quite sure why. After witnessing its mesmerizingly sloppy 82 minutes, I'm not quite sure either.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published July 5, 2015
It shouldn't have come as a surprise to see the Marcus Amphitheater a maybe generous 50 percent full - albeit an extremely enthusiastic and appreciative 50 percent - on Saturday night for The Avett Brothers. But while the bluegrass folk rock band had apparent problems filling the venue with fans, the band had no problem whatsoever completely filling the venue with strong, soulful music on the Fourth of July.
Published July 3, 2015
In fact, other than some busy confetti cannons - and I mean very busy - OK Go's 90-minute set pushed aside any sign of the viral video prop-heavy gimmickry the band is most famous for and instead relied on its power pop rock music and some charming banter to click with the Summerfest crowd. And, as it turns out, that was more than enough to deliver an awesome and entertaining evening.
Published July 2, 2015
Barely two years after his first show in 2013, WebsterX is now living his dream world he created of being a rap star. The 22-year-old rapper has risen to become one of the Milwaukee music scene's biggest stars, grabbing local and national headlines and, most recently, opening for global superstar Lupe Fiasco at the Miller Lite Oasis on Friday, July 3 at 8 p.m.
Published July 2, 2015
During his Amphitheater performance Wednesday night, Kendrick Lamar noted the last time he was here, "the energy was so motherf*ckin' loud," and if that was a 10, he wanted this show to hit a 12. Well, it certainly felt like a 12, with the packed crowd bobbing their heads, swaying their arms and just generally going crazy for every verse. And even though it barely lasted 60 minutes, Lamar's vigorous fireball of a set gave them plenty to go crazy about.
Published July 1, 2015
I'll admit it; before Tuesday night's Marcus Amphitheater show started up, one of those people was me. I wondered why a band, whose last seemingly notable moments came at the service of three-fourths of Michael Bay's "Transformers" franchise, was a Big Gig Amp headliner. Well, one large serving of crow, please, cooked medium rare.
Published June 30, 2015
Most bands desperately hope that their music videos will go viral. For pop rockers OK Go, at this point, it's almost expected. With a Summerfest headliner set scheduled for the Uline Warehouse on Thursday, July 2, I chatted with bassist/vocalist Tim Nordwind about the band's stories behind some of their viral sensations.
Published June 30, 2015
After traveling the globe in support of its star-making self-titled debut album, PHOX's tour is bringing the band right back to where its journey started in the first place: Wisconsin. Before it heads home to Baraboo, the band is dropping by its "home away from home" of Milwaukee to play Summerfest, opening for Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros on Thursday, July 2. Before then, we talked to Matt Holmen about his own fond Big Gig memories.
Published June 29, 2015
According to, well, herself, DJ Paris Hilton is one of the top paid DJs currently working. Unfortunately, much like the "Transformers" movies, her Summerfest set was one of those situations where the amount of the money involved was inversely proportionate to the amount of skill on display. Also like the "Transformers" films, it was loud, clunky, sporadically dull despite all of the noise, unnecessarily lengthy and, by the end, left me in a little bit of pain.
Published June 28, 2015
If you've seen Disney/Pixar's latest animated hit "Inside Out," there's a good chance a certain song has been rattling around in your mind ever since. No, not that TripleDent gum jingle, but the chorus to "Lava," the brief and beautifully rendered short about a volcanic island looking for love. While the short takes plenty of inspiration from Hawaii, as it turns out, Murphy's journey to get there made a stop right here in Milwaukee.
Published June 28, 2015
As clearly proved Saturday night at the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, "Shut Up And Dance" pop rockers Walk The Moon can now draw a packed house. The only question: Would they put on a show worthy of the face painted mob they gathered? Most certainly.