Letter From The Editor - Issue 58 - August 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
At The Picture Show
August 2009

Home invasion

'The Collector' takes 90 minutes to go nowhere

The Collector
Freestyle Releasing
Director: Marcus Dunstan
Screenplay: Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Josh Stewart, Michael Reilly Burke, Madeline Zima, Andrea Roth, Daniella Alonso, Karley Scott Collins, Robert Wisdom and Juan Fernandez
Rated R / 1 hour, 28 minutes
Opened July 31, 2009
(out of four)

About halfway through The Collector, I half-expected Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern to come barging in through the back door. The signs were all there. I had this movie pegged. The family's going out of town on vacation, their house is completely empty, it's pitch-black.

And when our reluctant hero, Arkin (Josh Stewart), breaks into the house late at night to steal the contents of the family safe, what he finds is the most elaborate, immaculately constructed set of booby traps modern home architecture has ever seen.

I had the movie pegged right there. The sadistic villain hiding in the house may have a mask on, but I knew who he was - it was none other than Macaulay Culkin. (Or, sorry, "Kevin McCallister.") Couldn't be anyone else. No one else in the world can booby trap a house like this. No one!

So, I said to myself, when Pesci and Stern finally arrive, oh the pratfalls those sneaky, sticky bandits will be in for!

Of course, we never find out for sure who it is under that mask - but my suspicions never wavered. Kevin McCallister has apparently grown into an angry and violent man, his physiognomy and psychological profile suggesting a deep-seated resentment of parental figures, almost certainly stemming from the child abandonment he repeatedly suffered during his upbringing.

The home he has broken into is owned by a fairly unlikeable couple (played by Michael Reilly Burke and Andrea Roth) and their two daughters (Madeline Zima and Karley Scott Collins).

The masked man takes immense pleasure in torturing his victims, be it through all the booby traps he's set up (though no Micro Machines this time), or by tying them up, or by cutting them open. You could say he has anger issues. One can only imagine what happened to his own parents, not to mention his older brother Buzz.

Anyway, we know why he's in the house - that's his pattern. He breaks into houses, kills the inhabitants and keeps one alive all for himself. He "collects" them, you see.

Arkin, on the other hand, is just a thief who happens to find himself in the wrong house on the wrong night.

He's been working construction on the house and has gotten to know the family, and he knows they're all supposed to be out of town by the end of the night. He'll sneak back in, crack the safe and swipe the valuable stone nestled within.

But what he didn't plan for was that someone else (Juan Fernandez) would already be inside - and with a much more sinister purpose. What proceeds from then on is basically your garden-variety Saw-style mayhem - unsurprising considering director Marcus Dunstan wrote three entries of the Saw franchise.

The Collector looks exactly like you'd expect it to look, with that murky film stock and sickly green tint. All the torture is elaborately designed, but of course there's rarely any possibility for suspense when the film's purpose is so clearly singular. Ultimately, this is a bland exercise within a style that didn't have much going for in it in the first place.

Read more by Chris Bellamy


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