The Collection is a straight-ahead horror movie with little to no broad appeal. No problem here with us, but The Collection is not for the non-niche. What's more, it helps immensely if you've seen the first in the series, The Collector. It stands alone OK, but only just. Director Dunstan and co-writer Patrick Melton show their roots with The Collection, as it plays a bit like a Saw sequel meets the first Feast. (All good!) Action, and gore, flourish.
The story opens on a small group of teen friends ready for the night: they're dressed to the nines, practicing pick-up lines, and are poised for the players that await in an underground, secret rave-joint. A few minutes later, when the dance floor becomes a killing floor, only a few survive the slaughter. Reminiscent of some great dancing-dying scenes (ala The Ghost Ship remake, or even Carrie at the prom), The Collection goes into full-tilt boogie and never slows down until the end-credits roll.
One of the teens, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick), meets up with Arkin (Josh Stewart), a relic from the first film and a part of the cruel Collector's (Randall Archer) menagerie. It's hoarding gone horribly wrong, to say the least. She helps him escape and off they go, separately.
Meanwhile the booby-trapped, locked up, condemned building (née Argento Hotel… wink, wink), offers up its many challenges — one of them, ala a roach motel, is not getting in: Elena's rich daddy's bodyguards (Lee Tergesen playing the chief among them) storm the creepy castle to rescue her. Once a few more warm, breathing bodies are inside, the games of cat & mice / snake & mongooses begin. Better watched than described, suffice to say there are plenty of moments of nail-biting suspense and wince-inducing, painful damage to the delicate human body.
The movie, though on the d-l budget-wise, looks and sounds like many millions of bucks. Charlie Clouser (who did the grinding gears and high notes in some Saw films) creates a chilling soundscape, while DP Sam McCurdy (The Descent) makes the most of the dark. Gary Tunnicliffe's sloshy special effects make for messy perfection. The acting, while contained to mostly abject terror and terse whispers, is aces across the board. The villain is a completely silent, otherworldly outlaw. There isn't much to connect on. Perhaps his agenda will be revealed more and more as the franchise unspools, but in The Collection he's slightly less intriguing than he was the first time we met him.
While The Collection isn't a masterpiece, it's a punchy piece in the pantheon of sequels, certainly a worthy successor to The Collector. If you liked the first one, and if you enjoy Saw movies (and other self-contained killings) then you can't go wrong.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson