Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Collection - first impression review

The Collection
The Collection is a mad dash of gore, brutality, and grotesquery; a mish mash of Saw-esque traps and stalk and slash mayhem through a hotel funhouse of horror. It’s a movie that panders to the sensibilities of gorehounds and flesh freaks while playing ode to the slasher sequels of yesteryear. Like the slasher sequels that dominated the VHS shelves during the 80’s there is a sense of one up-ism with The Collection, where everything seems badder and radder than its predecessor. The bodycount is bigger, the traps are bolder, and the “Collector” is as fiendish as ever, so shut down that bothersome cerebral cortex for a while, plop a cold beer in your hand, and get ready for some finger licking fun with The Collection.
The movie kicks off with some quick news footage detailing how the Collector is terrorizing the city, kidnapping unsuspecting citizens without any pattern or limits to his monstrous fetish, causing city wide panic and an irrational fear of traveling luggage. The Collector is apparently on his “A” game, so he decides to stage a night club attack with a barrage of exotic traps including running a hay bailer over a crowd of people and crushing a cage full of sappy party people with an industrial press. This first blood bath really sets the stage for the kind of crazy carnage to come. It’s silly and over -the-top but it’s just what the ghouls who are watching this movie are looking for. The Collection isn’t trying to make a point out of anything but entertaining the viewer with a sick, brutal ass horror film and it makes its intentions known at nearly every turn. From decapitated dogs, to grotesquely sown together bodies this movie really tries playing every card it has to get the gag reflex. Heck it even has zombies in it.

The anti-hero from the original, Arkin, is back and this one really solidifies his anti-hero, tough as nails final guy status. I really enjoyed the way they built up the rivalry between him and the “Collector” and the exponentially growing animosity they share for each other all the way to the end. It isn’t long before Arkin is back on the scene licking his wounds from the first movie in a hospital bed before he has mercenaries holding guns to his head, forcing him to lead the mutts to the Collector’s hideout in search of a missing rich person’s daughter. The Collection really isn’t concerned with table setting as it is with getting to the gore, bless its black heart. Arkin leads them to the out skirts of town explaining how he ingeniously tracked the Collector’s movements after getting captured by marking his arm for distance and the turns. The hotel is aptly named “Hotel Argento”, a name horror affectiandos will recognize immediately, and like the famous director’s giallo films the hotel is lit with a combination of atmospheric green, red, and black lights, giving it a funhouse kind of feel where some morbid mechanization lurks around every corner.

Most of the film takes place inside the abandoned hotel “where even rats avoid shitting”, with the cast evading one trap after another while trying to locate their missing party girl. Traps rank from terrifying to preposterous to out right impossible, but that doesn’t really hurt the proceedings as much as it is a reminder to relax, tap a sip, and not over think the blood bath stoopid. The kills come quickly; the film leaves little room for breather from one set piece to the next, and the fate of many of the “collected” are revealed. It appears that the Collector fancies himself as a bit of an artist, creating macabre displays of distorted flesh by sewing dead body parts back together and displaying them from behind a pristine glass case, and it’s apparent he’s been running this operation for a while. He must use a lot of Windex because those aquariums full of body parts are crystal clear, and dare I say kind of beautiful in a twisted way. While they do reveal a little more about the Collector during this round the film makers are careful to maintain an aura of mystery about him, which is great. Deconstructing slasher villains is so faux pas.

The performances are wide ranging and kind of what you’d expect from a high polished b-movie. Motivations are sometimes a bit sticky, and the characters caught in the Collector’s maze make some moronic moves, but again that’s par for the course. If these mercenaries were really that smart they wouldn’t have been so eager to run into the Collector’s hotel of horror with little to no plan other than “kick ass, find the girl”. This crew was born to be meat for the proverbial grinder. There was one plot hole I noted, where Atkin’s wife transforms from the frigid soul sucking hag from the first movie to a caring, loving spouse. They never mention the loan sharks coming after her which seemed to be the main plot driver of the original, and Atkin’s daughter is completely absent, but that really has little impact on the plot in this one.

I’ve heard that if this one does well in the theater there is a strong possibility for a third installment, which I would absolutely love to see. The ending could wrap things up nicely if they stop here, but they left themselves enough wiggle room to make a few more sequels as well. I would have to say that this is one of the best slashers I have ever seen in the theater, demonstrating a tenacity to entertain and cater to my gorehound tastes with a pinch of original ideas and concepts that seem to work well with this franchise builder, all good stuff. So I implore for everybody to check this one out, especially if you liked the original. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, and hopefully someday I will be sitting here reviewing “The Collected” in the near future.