I have to give “The Collection” an 8 out of 10.
No, it’s not a classic horror movie — it’s derivative of the “Saw” movies, and it seems to result from too little thought by the screenwriters. The antagonist is a serial killer (and here a mass murderer) who employs extraordinary Rube Goldberg-esque machines to brutally trap his victims.
We know nothing about how he arrived at his expertise. (He appears to be a demon-possessed Thomas Edison.) His choice of victims is random. His modus operandi is puzzling. (Why bring a prior victim to a new crime scene?) And we’re not even shown how these machines work — only CG’ed tracking shots of cables and pulleys. Neither do we know why he has unarmed combat training that seems to approach the level of Batman’s. And the question I was left with by the previous film (“The Collector,” 2009) is still the most egregious omission — how on earth does our bad guy have time to invade a house or building and set all these things up?! There is SOME nice exposition about the killer’s motivations in some closing dialogue, and it’s wickedly interesting, but it’s cut short.
But, hey — this still got under my skin enough to be an effective horror movie. The opening action set-piece (YEESH!) was not only frightening, it was also something completely surprising. I knew bad things were afoot when we spot our horrible machinist lurking above, but … I didn’t expect THAT.
Even with almost no speaking lines, Randall Archer deserves credit for terrific physical acting throughout — not to mention some the best (worst?) crazy-evil eyes in horror film history. (Just LOOK at this mamajama in the second picture below.) Archer is a professional stuntman, and his movement and posture sell the role perfectly.
Even better is the presence of Josh Stewart, who returns as the first movie’s nuanced antihero. I’ll say it again — I love this guy. He’s a damned talented actor, and he deserves more leading roles in major films. He was even frikkin’ awesome in his small role as Bane’s craven little henchman in “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012).
And Lee Tergeson, who I remember best as Beecher in HBO’s “Oz” (1997-2003), is also great to watch.
There are other nice touches too. Like its predecessor, this movie could be smart and creative when it tried. The use of a gun here is pretty clever, even if it seems obvious in retrospect. (I wouldn’t have thought of that.) And the fate of some of our bad guy’s past victims is both fresh and very disturbing. If those ideas had been expanded on much further, this film would have risen above its status as a “Saw” imitator.
Finally, I love endings like the one we see here. I won’t say more for fear of spoilers.