This is the second movie this month that I thought was something else prior to watching it to review. For some reason, I got this confused with CORNERED! (2008) starting Steve Guttenberg. Sadly, there is no Guttenberg in THE COLLECTOR (2009) so my apologies to anyone expecting SHORT CIRCUIT (1986) quips. Today is not your day.
THE COLLECTOR is a bad film, that could’ve been so much more had the direction been different. The first act has some genuine tension and emotion to it. Arkin (Josh Stewart) despite wanting to steal a ruby from the Chase family he’s working for, isn’t a complete scumbag. As Arkin works fixing up their home, he takes time to play with their daughter Hannah (Karley Scott Collins), and there’s a genuine kindness and struggle within him that is appealing. Obviously, stealing from your employer isn’t a good thing to do, but he needs to pay off his chick’s debts to protect her and his kid.
Right away, THE COLLECTOR does something that similar films like DON’T BREATHE (2016) and the SAW sequels fail at. They make a main character flawed without being unredeemable. He has a heart and a conscience, but is just fucked up and in a bad way. I like Arkin though he does creep me out a bit when he checks out the eldest daughter Jill (Madeline Zima). He’s acting like a modern-day Gary Puckett, and that’s not a good thing. Someone call the Union Gap and have them talk sense into Arkin! If they’re not available, Chris Hansen is going to need him to take a seat.
Once Arkin leaves the Chase home and meets up with his kid, the film loses steam. The unwarranted and empty change in hues and filters is indicative of the movie as a whole. I love films that display different colors to represent emotion or to show relevant changes in situations. Many times, directors will utilize colors to warn the audience of a significant shift of direction, tone or perspective. For example, in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) we experience the whole new world with Dorothy upon her entering Oz. Everything comes to life in such a beautiful and eye-catching way. The shift was such a profound one, and it wouldn’t have had the same effect if presented in the sepia tone used for Kansas.
The original SUSPIRIA (1977) is another amazing instance of colors being used properly, and it is most likely the best and most well-known example in the world of horror. Of course, that was done by Dario Argento and I don’t hold everyone to that level of genius. Still, I’d like some rhyme or reason other than “other movies do it and we can too!” This is one factor that made me loathe DON’T BREATHE, and it gets under my skin here, too.
I can even excuse the red light in the strip club as an obvious nod to the sexuality and seductive nature of the place, but the Leprechaun green applied elsewhere is distracting. When colors are implemented without justification, especially prior to really delving into the plot, it takes the audience out of the film. It is an unintentional reminder of “hey this is just a movie” which kills the momentum and the viewer’s ability to get sucked in. Giving the benefit of the doubt, maybe the green is representative of money or Arkin’s desire for harmony and a fresh start, but it doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t ever come together in a way that communicates that consciously or even subconsciously.
When Arkin returns to the Chase house to steal the ruby and finds The Collector (Juan Fernandez) and a bunch of traps, everything falls apart. First, I understand that the family had a lot of work done on their house, and maybe they weren’t paying attention to what was being done, but I just don’t see how they missed everything. The amount of time needed to plan the traps and the intricate detail in design that went into it couldn’t go unnoticed by everyone. Patriarch Michael (Michael Reilly Burke) should’ve been more on the ball and watched those handymen closer; and I’m not excusing mama Victoria (Andrea Roth) either. She’s equally responsible for being aloof of everything going on. Whenever I have dudes in my house working, I’m on them like white on rice. No one’s going to rip off Missy!
After the first act, THE COLLECTOR becomes really boring. It’s crazy gory so if you’re just a blood-and-guts freak, you’ll be far more into this than I am. I’m not opposed to violence in films at all. Nothing about this movie offends me, but nothing compels me either. I just wanted more, and I deserved more.
Admittedly, the overall acting is quite good which made the first act quite enjoyable. Sadly, that can’t save the rest which is just dreadful.
Though, I would’ve loved to see this movie take a different route, I’m not opposed to movies that focus on traps or tests. CIRCLE (2015), the CUBE (1997) franchise and even ESCAPE ROOM (2019) to a lesser degree, are all well-thought out, interesting and great productions. I’ve not only visited them but revisited them.
THE COLLECTOR doesn’t pack the necessary punches to keep the mind occupied or the viewer captivated. Perhaps, if The Collector turned out to be JOHNNY 5 gone insane, it would’ve been better. I could see him walking around saying, “NUMBER 5 is still alive, but you ain’t bitch! I’m going to disassemble your ass.” I am all for a pissed off robot setting traps to kill humans. Hell, we could have a sequel crossover with CHOPPING MALL (1986). The possibilities are endless; and that was for all you SHORT CIRCUIT fans. You’re welcome! I hate to disappoint.
In the end, I can’t recommend THE COLLECTOR, and that’s for one really good reason: it sucks.