The Collection review (DVD)

2009's The Collector was an entertaining and gruesome little number, low on originality (it was conceived as a SAW franchise prequel) but high on W Heath Robinson-inspired death machines. This straight-to-DVD sequel takes up the story soon after the end of the previous film in which **SPOILER** burglar hero Arkin (Stewart) was captured by a masked villain who had rigged up the mansion he was trying to rip off into a spectacularly bloody version of the old board game Buckaroo **END SPOILER**.

The Collection opens with Elena (Fitzpatrick), the only daughter of a wealthy father (McDonald, completely wasted), being taken to the sort of super-sexy backstreet rave that only exists in movies. Y’know, the sort where the DJ looks like a swimwear model rather than Dave Lee Travis. The Collector is lurking in the rafters and has rigged the entire club. The girl discovers Arkin trussed up in a side room, but the thief seizes his opportunity to escape, leaving her to be taken by the masked maniac for god knows what nefarious purpose.

Waking up in hospital, Arkin is immediately press-ganged into leading a group of mercenaries in search of The Collector's lair and the rescue of Elena. Arkin has handily cut a kind of map into his flesh that leads them to The Collector’s hideout, an abandoned hotel. It’s best not to think about how Arkin, locked in a suitcase in the back of a van, managed to be able to tell when it turned left and right; this is merely one flimsy playing card in a house constructed of many. The hotel turns out to be a ruin whose walls that are only held up by the elaborate death-traps The Collector has constructed. The game is on.

The Collection greatly ups the body count from the previous film, but even Isambard Kingdom Brunel could not rig up a suspension system capable of keeping the audience's credulity afloat. The leather-masked Collector is a villain of almost no character whatsoever. When the Bond film Skyfall came out, many complained that bad guy Silva’s master plan made barely any sense, but at least he had one. Quite what The Collector is up to is never even remotely explored until one perfunctory line right at the end. The level of ingenuity on show, and his ability to be on more than one place at any time, make him seem less like the SAW franchise’s Jigsaw and more like a Batman villain.

There have comparisons to Aliens in the way that the sequel ups the carnage and chaos. This is grossly insulting to Aliens and neglects the fact that part of the success of James Cameron’s film is the solid hour of characterisation and careful mood setting before all hell breaks loose. With a scant 78 minute runtime, Dunstan’s film floors the pedal to the metal and consequently you will not care about anyone.

Gorehounds will be tapping their feet impatiently and thinking, "Who cares, is the grue good?" Well it’s certainly plentiful, and in a few cases properly wince inducing. It is, however, absolutely nothing you haven’t seem before and features one early sequence so nakedly sadistic that it turned me right off the film. The opening nightclub massacre is okay I suppose, but Dunstan’s overly-fussy direction, oversaturated lighting and excessive editing rob it of much of its impact. In comparison to the excellently stage mass death scene at the start of 2002’s otherwise dull Ghost Ship, I found it wanting.

Ultimately this is a late entry in the torture porn sub-genre (I hate that term, but for better or worse it has stuck), and while a lot better than complete rubbish like Vile (2011) and Captivity (2007), this feels desperately old fashioned already.

EXTRAS ★★★ Actually a decent spread for a DTV horror film, there is a filmmaker commentary track and featurettes on special effects, gore and stunt work.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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