Sabbath Reviews: The Collector (2009)

Directed by:  Marcus Dunstan
Written by: Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan

“Relentlessly bloody and just as relentlessly idiotic deathtrap thriller for the Saw crowd.”

“The Collector must be the laziest horror film of the year – the camerawork stinks, the action’s boring and the plot holes are so glaring they wouldn’t get past a lobotomized goose.”

“This is a crass, silly and baffling slice of torture porn — with the audience being tortured, chiefly with boredom.”

– Reviews from

The above reviewers have been sent an invite to kindly eat my ass.

After viewing The Collector I was surprised to see so many film critics are completely unappreciative of pure, unadulterated entertainment. As a culture, we seem to swing to one extreme or the other. One crowd firmly believing if it isn’t art, it’s not worth watching. The other crowd being too stupid to spell the word art. At some point we just have to admit: some movies are made to be enjoyed on an intellectual level, and some on a more visceral level. It doesn’t necessarily make a movie bad, it just makes it not a fucking Michelangelo.

No. Not you.

Normally I wouldn’t give two shits except I’m sort of offended here by the sheer amount of scathing reviews this movie got when I was completely entertained from start to finish. The very legitimate statement can be made that this is little more than torture porn, but with thankfully less twists and turns than the Saw series. Why thankfully? Because that fucking series should have been wrapped up about 4 movies ago, that’s why.

This is torture porn, but it’s good torture porn. It’s a movie with little moral and reason, but it succeeds at keeping you in suspense from start to finish with its claustrophobic atmosphere and — holy shit, you don’t even know what the fuck this movie is about, do you? Let me back up.

Arkin (Josh Stewart) is a repairman at the Chase family household. The family just moved in so Arkin’s handling all the odds and ends, an exterminators taking care of the bug problem, etc. After a rather unsettling incident where the father of the house finds Arkin having a tea party with his little girl, Arkin informs him that he has a girl about her age. His child’s mother happens to be a stupid bitch and I blame her entirely for the events of this movie.

See, Arkin was supposed to make enough money to pay off her loan shark debts and the paycheck didn’t cut the mustard. She’s looking to flee town but Arkin knows the family is supposed to be out of town tonight and — having a past criminal record and knowledge of the contents of the house — plans to rob the Chase family of a precious jewel and make enough to pay off his wife’s debts from the sale.

He breaks into the house and soon finds out that the Chases never really left. He tries to use the phone — which has a needle sticking out of the earpiece and jabs him right in the ear. Arkin’s about to find out that the whole house has been booby-trapped with sick and twisted devices to kill, sever, and maim. Now he’s trapped in the house and he makes eye contact with the father who has been severely tortured. After witnessing Chase fall into a trap and get collected by the masked psychopath, Arkin begins to nimbly navigate his way around the house, trying to avoid the traps and save the family.

Arkin is probably the most unlikely protagonist given his initial intentions, but he proves to be one bad ass son of a bitch. I found myself rooting for him 100% of the way like the guy was Batman. He’s a small, nimble action hero in this movie to me. He could have focused on escaping from the beginning but his sights are completely set on helping these people.

Bear traps, floors coated in acid, razor-sharp and nearly invisible wire, knives — everything but the kitchen sink is used. The torture scenes are pretty gruesome and ultimately, yeah, seen before in various movies but still … gruesome. It’s gory, it’s simple, but most of all its chock full of suspense and perhaps the thing I get the least is how somebody could call this film boring.

Call it simple. Call it soulless. Call it whatever you want, but you can’t call it boring. I just don’t see how.

The home invasion scenario has been used, yes, but why reinvent the wheel? Home is a sanctuary. There is something inherently frightening about having the sanctity and safety of your own home violated and it works to create a terrifying atmosphere. The rooms are claustrophobic, even more so because most of them have been trapped and there’s tons of teases to traps being almost tripped … but sometimes it’s not a tease. Sometimes bad shit just happens to good people.

Less intelligent than a film like The Strangers, it succeeds in matching its levels of suspense and at points exceeding it, while filling the void of mindlessness with a plethora of gore. I loved it.

Sometimes you just need to turn your mind off and immerse yourself in a film. But fuck you, I’m still not watching Jackass movies.

— Sabbath


3 Responses to “Sabbath Reviews: The Collector (2009)”

  1. I didn’t think this movie was bad at all. I actually thought it was pretty decent until the ending, which just didn’t work for me. Some of this is actually pretty smart and very tightly filmed. It seems to be one of those films that anyone writing a review felt they had to bash it to retain some credibility. I never read a good review for it, but I’ve never heard bad word of mouth. Like you said, it’s no masterpiece, but I’ve definitely seen much, much worse.

  2. chainsawcheerleader Says:

    I keep passing this movie up. I’ll probably watch it now. Great review.

  3. My girlfriend and her father were the ones who told me about this movie. Granted, my girlfriend also told me The Exorcist was really scary and I believed her — BUT — I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Really well-paced and entertaining which filmmakers sometimes forget. I want to just be entertained sometimes.

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