The Film: The Collector (2009)

The Principles: Marcus Dunstan (Director). Josh Stewart, Andrea Roth, Michael Reilly Burke, Madeline Zima, Juan Fernandez.

The Premise: There’s this guy who dresses like a Mexican wrestler and likes to break into people’s houses so he can torture them and “collect” them. He goes after a well-to-do family on the same night that some asshole, who owes money to the mob, is trying to rob some jewels at their house. So the asshole is now trapped in the house with the collector and the tortured family; and he has to play hero.

Did that make any sense?

It did?

You’re better at this than I am.

Is it Good: I would have to say no. Not in the least. Not at all.

There are many reasons, I suppose, why this movie sucks like hell. But I think the main problem is that it never makes any fucking sense. That premise I outlined? It took me 3 hours to write that. Three hours spread out over a period of three days. Why? Because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to explain this stupid movie. And, given that thrillers are supposed to hinge on an easily conceivable premise, that’s probably not a good sign.

I could never make heads or tails of this movie. It has an intriguing opening scene, where a middle aged couple comes home from a fancy dinner and, before they can proceed to have their customary missionary style sex that lasts 4 minutes, they find a mysterious giant box in their bedroom. The guy opens the box, is horrified by what he finds inside (which we don’t see) and THE COLLECTOR pounces on them.

The movie had me up to this point. I wanted to know what was in that box. I wanted to know who these people were and why they had been attacked.

But, immediately after the opening, two horrible things happened. First, I was treated to Nauseating Epilepsy-Inducing Seven Rip-Off Title Sequence #684. And then, after that horror, I spent the next 20-odd minutes wondering what the living hell this fucking movie was about. Wasn’t it about this weird box and some mysterious killer who looks like a gimped El Santo that likes to pounce on middle-aged couples before they have unsatisfactory sex?

I guess not. Because, all of a sudden, it’s about a handyman named Arkin (Stewart) helping a rich family that just moved in to some big house in the middle of nowhere. And, right away, we can’t be endeared to him because he behaves like a pedophile, sitting down for “tea time” with the little girl of the family. And then checking out their hot daughter (Zima), who comes out to bum a cigarette and flash her titties at him.

So the movie becomes about this thoroughly unappealing guy. And we spend an interminable amount of time finding out about him and his deadbeat problems, with a wife that hates him, a kid who doesn’t know any better; and some badass mobster (played by Robert Wisdom, dolled up to look like Morpheus from The Matrix) threatening to kill his family, unless he breaks into that house he’s working at and steals a jewel they have in their safe.

What the fuck is this?

So, finally, he’s back at the house and trying to break into the safe.

And that’s when THE COLLECTOR shows up.

And the movie, which already went from intriguing to painfully dull within the space of 5 minutes, becomes deadly stupid in 30 seconds.

I don’t ask for too much from a movie like this. I just want to have a good time. And I’m in no way repulsed by extreme violence, as its one of the ingredients of this type of Grindhouse picture. It’s part of the fun. I can deal with all that. But, even in the dumbest of thrillers, there has to be an internal logic that makes things believable. You have to believe that this could happen.

I’m not a hard guy to convince, believe me. Want proof? Nightmare on Elm Street could happen. Yes. Provided that somehow this demonic guy could possess your dreams, chances are – if this sort of man existed – that’s what it could be like. Friday the 13th could happen. Sure, it could. If there were a superhuman mongoloid guy living in the woods, who hates camp counselors because one of them chopped off his mommy’s head, chances are that – when he decided to kill those counselors – that’s how it could go down.

The Saw movies could happen. If there was this rich engineer, and he somehow managed to get all these people in law enforcement and the health industry to worship him and help out, those elaborate traps could be built and those people really could be put in them. And that’s probably what it would be like.

So, with all that, I can’t come up with a convincing explanation for The Collector. I do not believe that any of events that transpire in The Collector could happen in the way that they happen, nor do I understand why they happen.

I don’t understand how this guy is able to capture a healthy man and his wife, and plant all these elaborate traps throughout the entire house in the space of what must have been 3 minutes, all while some doofus is trying to break into a safe upstairs.

I don’t understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. And I don’t even really know what it is that he’s doing. We know why Freddy wants to kill those kids. We understand the motivations of Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers. And we “get” the thinking behind Jigsaw and his using death to make people love life.

Part of buying into a thriller is grasping the concept behind the bad guy’s motivation. And that doesn’t ever happen here.

At some point, the box from the beginning comes back into the story. The would be jewel thief finds it in a closet (what?) and, wouldn’t you know, the middle-aged premature ejaculator from the beginning is stuck inside the box.

He proceeds to explain: “He’s a collector. He collects people! Unless he doesn’t like you, in which case he kills you. But, if he likes you, he keeps you.”

Okay. That sounds like a reasonable explanation, I guess. Pretty cut and dry. Though, it doesn’t explain his superhuman powers that allow him to rig spectacular traps throughout an entire house in 43 seconds.

But, you know what? I’m not buying that explanation. You know why? Because, how the fuck does he know? Did The Collector tell him all this while he was shoving him into the box? I could believe that was possible, if The Collector wasn’t shown to be a guy whose entire vocabulary seems to be made of moans and grunts.

So, I don’t understand.

I don’t know how this Lucha Libre dickhead (and maybe he really is a Mexican wrestler, since he’s played by a guy named Juan Fernandez) is able to overpower two healthy adults. I don’t know how or why he would set traps in a house when he already has the people he wants tied up in the basement. I don’t understand how tripping on a bear trap causes an entire pile of bear traps to all latch themselves onto convenient parts of your body so it will look cool when you die. I don’t understand how grabbing a pair of scissors attached to a wire causes you to fly across the room and into some conveniently placed spikes (just let go of the fucking scissors you moron).

I don’t understand how one measly jewel in some rich asshole’s safe is supposed to be enough to satisfy a mobster’s greed.

I didn’t understand The Collector.

And, now, I don’t even care.

Fuck this movie.

Is it worth a look: No. Unless you’re a really big fan of stupid gore. And, by that, I mean gore that is set up in a stupid way… Or if you really want to check out Madeline Zima’s tits.

Random Anecdote: This was originally intended as a prequel to the Saw films. I imagine they heavily reworked it so that you went from Jigsaw to this grunting Mexican wrestler who probably used to love Legos when he was a kid.

But, if the script was too implausible for the Saw series, couldn’t that have been a hint?

* * * *

By the way, I repeatedly made references to a middle-aged couple and their sexual dysfunctions. I just want to be clear that there is nothing in the text (or subtext for that matter, since there is none) of the film to actually suggest that these two people have problems of that nature.  For all I know, the guy doesn’t suffer from ED and is actually quite capable of enduring a prolonged coital episode, leading his wife to a very satisfying orgasm, followed by his own.

I’m just a mean asshole who likes to make fun of old people fucking.

Cinematc Soulmates: The Saw movies, The Hostel movies, I Spit on Your Grave (2010)