At The Picture Show
'The Collector' takes 90 minutes to go nowhere
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
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
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