December 19, 2012

The Collection (2012)

"A man who escapes from the vicious grips of the serial killer known as The Collector is blackmailed to rescue an innocent girl from the killer's booby-trapped warehouse."

If you can survive the migraine-inducing, pop video-style opening credits or you're a teenager, you might enjoy the latest "Aliens" remake known as "The Collection". Okay, so there are no aliens in it, but for those of us who are a bit older, it's exactly the same story as "Aliens" (1986) give or take a lot more gore and torture.

I'll be honest, I didn't like "The Collector" (2009) apart from the alternative ending. I much prefer the 1965 cat friendlier version. Arkin isn't a character that I can relate to, and to be blunt, "The Collector" is too far-fetched, has no tension, it looks cheap, and it bores me to tears.

So why did I watch "The Collection"? Well, I suppose I had to since it's the last horror movie of the year with a worldwide theatrical release. I still didn't really want to review it, but I needed to justify my reasons for hating it as much as all the other grumpies.

Here we go again!

Let's begin with the completely alienating characters. No, they're still not aliens, but they might as well be. What do I have in common with teenage nightclubbers or rich people? Since at least 1994, nothing. 1994 was the last time I set a foot inside a nightclub, and even then I only had one pint of beer before I left. I can't remember the music that was playing, but it was loud enough to make my ears ring for the next four hours so I decided to call it a day. As for rich people, yeah, I wish. I certainly don't have anything in common with Newt, I mean Arkin (Josh Stewart), either.

I love torture movies or "torture porn" (if you want to call them that) so I will admit that the giant lawnmower shenanigans in the nightclub are kind of cool. Of course, it's all as ridiculous as any of the traps in "The Collector" or the "Saw" movies so take any praise I give with a huge pinch of salt.

The other torture scenes in "The Collection" are more about the aftermath than really seeing anything so it's a huge bait and switch for the most part. A tongue gets pulled out and there are a couple of scary spiders in the first half hour, but that's it until the Space Commandos, I mean "small private army" on a rescue mission, are led into The Collector's lair by Arkin. In formulaic slasher style, the barely-defined cannon fodder start getting picked off one by one in various unpleasant ways by old Gimp-face and his drugged-up or booby-trapped victims.

The next 20 minutes up the ante with some decent impalements, but there's still nobody to care about or anything that you haven't seen before. Like I said, there isn't that much to see anyway, just a lot of screaming to make up for it. Our kidnapped heroine, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) befriends an instantly predictable blonde nutjob who you know is going to be trouble, and the grunts all look worried or intense as they manage to get themselves decimated. Surprisingly spry for someone just out of hospital, Arkin decides to ditch the grunts in favour of whatever his own agenda may be.

At around 50 minutes in (I know because I was timing it), some tension is generated as the remaining cast members locate and rescue the pretty member of the Space Commandos before she's cut to pieces by a net full of razorblades. It's easily the best part of the movie, but it's too little and far too late.

The resulting scene is just an excuse for the poetically-justified demise of the kooky blonde, more animal cruelty (but who cares because it's only dogs this time anyway), and the loss of the reason why they all went into the hotel for all of a minute. On the bright side, thanks to Arkin being clever, a S.W.A.T. team shows up but does nothing except call the fire department! Boring, boring, boring!

Lock her in a cage until her hair grows!

The final minutes contain some of the most ludicrous things I've ever seen in a horror/action movie. After escaping from a cage by having his already broken arm rebroken, Arkin then has it reset and heals in a way that Bruce Wayne in "The Dark Knight Rises" would be proud of. As if there wasn't enough lack of realism in "The Collection" in the first place!

The climax is then like something out of a console game with The Collector (Randall Archer) very much as the "final boss". There's a "surprise" self-sacrifice by the lead Space Commando, the female Space Commando (who just happens to be black!) has been on borrowed time anyway so she's out, and the now seemingly superhuman Arkin metamorphoses into Ripley to beat the crap out of The Collector without even the need of a yellow space forklift! All that's missing is the famous "Get away from her, you bitch!" line.

In its favour, "The Collection" isn't bad looking (it looks better than the "Saw" movies anyway), and Elena is far from being the most annoying or useless heroine in a horror/action movie. She doesn't do a lot until the end, but what she does is important even if the result of her actions in saving Arkin allow The Collector to escape his fiery death too. Talk about unsatisfying!

But wait, there's more! Not content with one ending which promises a sequel, there are actually two! Worse than that, there's a small loophole in the epilogue which might mean that Arkin has the wrong man! It's doubtful, but now there'll probably be a second sequel, a third, and God knows how many more every year to replace the "Saw" franchise. Oh, no, that's all we need!

I don't know about you, but I can barely wait for the next installment set in a prison full of English skinheads.

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