Friday, June 6, 2014

The Collection (2012)

Apparently it took three years of director Marcus Dunstan banging his head against a wall, but a sequel to The Collector, which nobody in the world ever wanted, finally arrived. I gotta level with you guys: I still gave this too much credit. Once again, after watching the often jumbled and incoherent first film with its lack of any plot, I figured maybe THIS one would finally explain some of the things that needed explanation and give us a slightly more cogent film.

Heh heh heh … man, I’m an idiot. Excuse me for expecting even the least bit of intelligence, even the evidence of one brain cell used at all, in a movie. I’m sorry – I’m so sorry for expecting something so outrageous.

Director: Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick

We start off with a little girl and her father in a car, with the dad saying he’ll always protect her and be there for her. Given cinematic laws of irony, of course a truck slams into the car right then, violently overturning it and starting a fire – you know, it happens. The father is thrown out of the vehicle, but the daughter is caught inside. Luckily, some random guy is there to save her. I’m just so glad we kicked off RIGHT where the last movie left off.

Then we get some news reports about how The Collector is this serial killer who can’t be stopped, he’s killed so many victims, blah blah blah – we get several scenes of policemen and firemen recounting exactly how powerless they are to beat this guy. The basic gist of these scenes is “We have no idea what we’re doing!” This is the same killer who couldn’t catch a ten year old girl in the last movie, mind you – just throwing that one out there.

"Yeah, we really have no idea what we're doing in this city anymore. The killer has clearly won the battle and we are surrendering to him. In fact we're going to hand him the keys to the city and let him be the new mayor!"

We also get some background information on Arkin and his situation – apparently he’s a thief with multiple convictions and the lady from the first movie was his wife. Why wasn’t any of that in the first movie again? It wasn’t like you just had so much else going on in that fuckin’ movie that you couldn’t have said a damn thing to explain YOUR MAIN CHARACTERS at all?! Hey though, I guess it’s understandable. We really needed every second of that one; even the scenes of the wife with the mafia debt! Which, by the way, is never brought up again – never even mentioned once – in this entire movie.

We then get even more stuff that connects to the last movie when we get a teenage girl whose boyfriend stands her up because he has to work. She gets a call from her best friend, though, and says no, she wants to stay inside. Two seconds later she looks out the window and sees her friend’s car in the driveway, and this suddenly makes her want to go now. Yeah, because crossing out the line in the script where she said she definitely didn’t feel like going would’ve been too much work, huh, assholes?

Oh, forget it – there are worse things to complain about. Like how the friend for SOME reason is bringing her little brother along and lecturing him about how to get laid. Because you know, most young women love bringing their dorky teen brothers along on nights out and ALWAYS lecture them on how to get laid! This is real life, I swear!

They go to some dance club where the bouncer, I guess, is trying to be Punk Rock Genghis Khan:

The Mongolian warrior race is taking awkward steps into the new world.

We then get, in this 75 minute movie, a few minutes of nothing but people partying. I really think these scenes were necessary to the movie! After all, what would this experience be without shots of people dancing to dubstep music at a club? Certainly not complete, I do say! What, do you think horror movies should be about horror? Pfft.

The Director's Cut has another hour of just this. The rest of the movie is the same shit, but there's another hour of nothing but the partying scenes. I personally think this would be a transformative once in a lifetime experience and everyone should see it! And I'm totally not lying or being sarcastic about anything in this caption!

But unfortunately that wonderfulness comes to an end as soon as the main girl, Elena, wanders off and trips one of the Collector’s traps … yes, he put traps in a dance club. I guess he was really counting on some random person wandering off into a dark enclosed room and tripping over a wire. Also, where was security in this? It would sorta make sense if he bought them off – not really, it’d be stupid, but at least it would be an explanation! But they never say so, so I guess it’s more of Dunstan’s “full frontal lobotomy” style directing – as in, you’d have to have one to enjoy anything in this piece of shit.

We do have more gore, though! We have industrial-size razors descending from the ceiling and slaughtering everyone en masse:

And also a steel cage that slowly crushes everyone inside it to a bloody pulp:

Yeah, you know those characters the movie just spent ten minutes sorta building up as important? They all just died horribly with very little climax or resolution! I so love writing, especially the kind where you don’t actually have to tell a story at all – you can just mash your fingers on the keyboard and send off whatever dribble comes out. Or so this movie is teaching me.

But fuckin’ seriously; let’s do some math. This movie is 73 minutes long, and we’re about 15 minutes in when Arkin shows up for the first time. That leaves us with less than an hour of actual movie that’s moving the plot forward with characters we actually see for more than a scene or two. Last time I checked, even Uli Lommel’s fetid feces-pile of a movie Black Dahlia was longer than that. This is practically home-video length. I mean come on!

This movie would be improved by black and white shots of the cops talking about eating breakfast I think.

On second thought, I should be praising Dunstan for making this goddamned abomination of a film as short as possible. Next time I will personally fund his movie if he agrees to cut out all footage down to 10 minutes total, including credits at the beginning and end. Open offer, Dunstan! Take it any time!

I just have to wonder, did these people even go to a legitimate rave? Or was this whole thing just some underground seedy event at a slaughterhouse out in the middle of nowhere?

Speaking of that, what was the Collector even thinking doing this? What was his thought process like? We know he likes to do bloody kill scenes and only take one person – so what difference does it make whether or not he kills a whole warehouse full of people? It’s never really established whether or not he planned to take Elena specifically. In fact, it does seem to be just random, which is dumb on its own. But dude, if he did really want to take her, if that was the case, why do it THIS way? Why not ambush her car, or do it at her house?

As much as I’d like to think ANY of this had a structure or a point to it, no – I’ve already been fooled by this series too many times and we’re not even halfway through this one yet. Every time I think there’s some sort of explanation to a plot hole, it turns out there isn’t and it was just empty, thoughtless crap. Thoughtless crap used as a vehicle for GORE!!! And nothing else. You goddamn hacks.

Sigh … so, fortunately for the universe, Arkin survived this long and escapes from a window Batman-style, leaving Elena to be kidnapped. What an awesome guy.

He looks beat up now, but in about ten minutes he'll be moving perfectly fine and it'll be like this never happened. I guess Arkin was such a piece of shit that his body literally had no softness or humanity left in it; that must be how he survived this fall!

Arkin gets picked up by some medics and police, who arrest him on the spot. But what’s really funny to me is the only thing we hear the paramedic say: “Please note this scratch on his arm is self-inflicted.” Yeah, because when a guy comes into your ambulance bloodied up to Hell and having just fallen out of a second-story window, it’s important where ONE SCRATCH came from!

"Please also note that he has a freckle on his left shoulder."

So in the hospital, Arkin is approached by a strange man who offers him a chance to get out of jail time if he helps them go back into the Collector’s lair and save Elena. The guy also says he’s a vigilante from some rogue mercenary group, so I’m really not sure how they’d ever get Arkin a pardon from jail time. But I guess Arkin is a mentally retarded person, so this never crosses his mind and he accepts immediately.

We then get introduced to the most generic group of mercenaries ever. I’d like to issue a public apology to Ghost Rig, as this movie’s mercenaries makes theirs look like the cast of The Thing in comparison. What are their personalities, you ask? They’re assholes … that’s it … I know, stop the presses; my heart is just tearing up right here. I’ll be devastated if these characters die.

Most of these guys are never identified by name. Well, at least they didn't try TOO hard. I mean giving your characters personalities beyond "angry mercenary assholes" would have busted a brain cell I bet.

Oh, and guess how Arkin finds the location he was taken to, even despite having been in a box the entire time? You’re gonna love this shit – apparently he made tally marks on his own flesh every so many feet, and also memorized exactly where the vehicle he was in turned. Through this, Arkin has somehow figured out exactly where the Collector’s secret hideout is. You know, I was all prepared to decry this as completely insane and unrealistic, even less plausible than the traps in the first movie. However, I’m also pretty sure this is just how they teach Boy Scouts to navigate the woods these days. Just, tie ‘em up in a burlap sack and make them carve lines into their flesh to figure out where they’re going. It works, I swear!

"I also have a map of New York City carved on my belly with a butter knife from the last time I was in this situation."

They go to the abandoned hotel where the Collector apparently has set up shop in his Jigsaw Killer-wannabe lair – in fact I’m almost positive he’s just a Jigsaw-worshiper; probably sat in his room as a kid jerking off to kill scenes from SAW 1 and 2. Oh, am I talking about the Collector here, or Marcus Dunstan? Guess it’s hard to tell.

One guy, looking at the hotel, says “It looks deserted.” Well gee, personally I expected the Collector to be operating out of the Hilton down the street, but whichever! They go in and the movie just gives up and becomes a shitty First Person Shooter game with “zombies” coming out and attacking them:

Press X! PRESS X!!!

After that, we get Elena somehow easily escaping from her box – oh, who am I kidding; it doesn’t surprise me at all that he’d make it this easy to get out. It wouldn’t be something worth mentioning if not for the incredibly dull and cliché scene where the Collector is “searching” for her. I put that term in quotes because really it’s the same crap as every modern serial killer movie – he doesn’t really try to look, instead he just moves around slowly while she lies immobilized, then he lets some spiders walk around over her:

Oh put a sock in it. It's just Andrew Garfield's little buddies coming to save the day!


After that, we get some aimless wandering around the Collector’s house. Nothing’s really going on, but the movie just wants to show us how cool all the scenery is! This warehouse is literally every over the top serial killer cliché ever, from the grimy looking walls to the petrified human beings in glass tanks and the abundance of goofy looking mannequins and kids’ dolls:

It’s just worthless shit; I don’t have any other words and I see no reason to beat around the bush. Clearly Dunstan and whoever he actually conned into working on this crap had no real ideas, and just fell back on the most bottom-of-the-barrel, dead-eyed cliché that only hack writing and lots of pandering could come up with.

So Arkin stumbles upon a girl nailed to a wall, begging for help. True to his character, he hides and watches while she gets murdered, even though he clearly had time to help her out. No, he never dwells on this, and the movie does not treat it like a big deal or even like he did something wrong. I really hope this piece of shit character gets what’s coming to him in the end – like a bee hive over his head and a blowtorch to his balls.

(Hint: he doesn’t get any of those things.)

"I could save her right now, knock him over the head while his back is turned, but that would require effort! Plus it would actually make sense and make me a likable character, and we can't have that!"

Then we get the mercenaries finding Arkin and threatening him because he split up from them. I’m so glad the movie worked SO HARD at making us like these abominable assholes, because then we get the old “killer appears right behind them and they don’t listen even when main guy tries to warn them” trick. If I still had any faith in mankind at this point, I’d be so disappointed! He strings up the one lady and just lets her swing around upside down. Presumably she’s going to be tortured, but I think it’s funnier to imagine if she just kept swinging around upside down forever in a continuous loop.

They find Elena and Arkin then has a brilliant idea to try and get help – he leans out an opening in the window with his gun and shoots a homeless person. Yes, the main character of the movie just shot a homeless person – you didn’t imagine that.

I'll give the movie this one measly caveat - there's no other film where the hero shoots homeless people. But then, I don't think THAT is a goal worth celebrating!

The ambulances get there in like two seconds flat; what, were they right around the fucking corner just lounging?

The Collector somehow traps them all in a cage. Arkin tries to reach the latch and let everyone out, but he can’t do it unless they re-break his arm – basically just an excuse for more gore. But any excuse to hurt Arkin is fine by me! And military chick re-sets Arkin’s arm immediately after they get out, anyway. I personally would find it hilarious if they got stuck in another cage right after and had to re-break and re-set Arkin’s arm all over again. But the movie isn’t catering to my sense of humor.

Instead we get a lame-ass fight scene, where the Collector is somehow beaten down by Arkin – yes, he’s beaten up by a man with a broken arm. I’m so close to the end at this point, I just don’t care.

We also get some despicably lame slo-mo shots of Elena destroying everything afterward – really, you’re trying to pass THIS off as epic? Really now?

Yeah, you go, heroes; one's an asshole who shoots homeless people and steals from people who trust him, the other is a bland girl who we don't know anything about! Truly worthy of heroic music! Put that music in more 75-minute worthless pieces of shit full of nothing but torture garbage, please!

So they all get saved and go home. We then cut to another scene of the Collector arriving home. He turns on the radio broadcast to some stuff about his murders, but is surprised when it’s switched to banal music that sounds something like a less imaginative Meshuggah – which is saying something. He goes downstairs and Arkin is there, waiting for him with a gun to his head.

Arkin says he’s going to “make the Collector feel everything he felt” with a smarmy, shit-eating self-obsessed smirk on his face. Then we fade out as he starts making out with the Collector passionately.

Am I making that last part up? Who gives a shit; it’s not any less stupid than what actually happens anyway.

I hated this movie – like, burning, blood-red, worst-enemy hatred. When I started writing this review, I was filled with an overwhelming urge to just skip talking about the film and spend the review bashing Dunstan and the movie unrepentantly, without any remorse. I’m really not exaggerating at all – this movie filled me with a rage unusual for this blog, and it’s not something I really like to incite in myself – I don’t do these things exactly on purpose. I may watch some bad movies, but watching something that hurts me this much is not the intent behind Cinema Freaks, not at all.

This is a waste of time as big as any I’ve seen, with absolutely nothing redeemable about it. What miniscule scraps of plot we got from the last film are long gone, replaced here with silly “joke” horror alternating with SAW-fellatio to a degree so flagrant the only way it makes sense is because, surprise, Marcus Dunstan was the guy behind the last four (also god-awful) SAW movies. Because really he isn’t even trying anymore – even the set design is indistinguishable from a SAW sequel. You might as well have just slapped SAW 8 on the cover; it wouldn’t matter anyway. There’s no imagination, no scares, no character – nothing but pure, undiluted hate for the audience, and for horror in general.

If you want some more specific critiques ... well, the killer is never explained, his motives are left almost entirely untouched. Not every horror film needs tons of exposition, but with one like this, focused solely on one man doing such specific, strange things, you at least need some bare scrap of it so our imaginations can have something to work with.

The plot threads from the last movie are pretty much discarded. Both the little girl who Arkin saved from the house AND his own family, in trouble with loan sharks who may or may not have been involved with the mob, are never addressed here. They were barely there in the first one, and they're nonexistent in this one.

That would be fine if the new plot elements in this were better, but even the plot introduced in this film is just glanced over, and for what? Gore. Gore, gore and more gore; and oh, don't forget the tepid horror cliché all over this yet again like dog turds on a newly cut lawn. If the film didn't even try to set up anything beyond the gore, it would be one thing. It would still be bad, but at least it wouldn't have any pretense about what it is. The fact that they set up such a flimsy, half-assed story to try and posture this as an actual story we were supposed to get invested in just comes off as extremely dishonest and like Dunstan didn't really give two shits what he was doing. The places where you're supposed to care about the characters are glazed over like a drunk college student doing a term paper the night before, and as a result, the entire thing is frustrating at best and absolutely deplorable at worst. It's a lazy, trashy, poorly done movie in every aspect.

When I finished watching this, I was mostly just sad. I was sad I had spent my time even watching this filth at all; sad that anyone would spend time watching this instead of doing anything else at all. I felt bad for wasting 75 minutes of my life on this crap instead of reading a book, doing some writing, watching any other film – pretty much anything would’ve been an improvement over watching this movie.

So let this be a warning, dear readers … this movie is the cinematic equivalent to getting curb-stomped.

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