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How The Collection Broke New Ground for Horror Movies

Updated on December 29, 2013
Is the Collector a new Horror Icon?
Is the Collector a new Horror Icon? | Source

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that entailed the nature of horror movies and how the endless array of sequels they play host to never really break new ground and even begin to dismantle the mythology of the original that made it so great and memorable. I thought that there needed to be a new horror villain icon, one that was unique and not a rehashed version of Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, or Jason Voorhees. The whole pattern of slashers killing teenagers only to be thwarted by the virgin at the end and then, surprise, the killer comes back for one last scare or escapes despite the extensive amounts of injury inflicted on him has really become overused and stale.

However, there was one horror movie a few years back that I thought was more on the original side for a horror movie, "The Collector", a gruesome tale that seems to almost be a dark Home Alone with the use of ingenious traps. Within the film, I finally saw a villain that was purely just that; a villain. The villain's name is the same as the title of the film and like Michael Myers, we don't know his origin story, but he is far more ruthless, intelligent, and disturbing than the original slasher. He is an ordinary man with no superpowers beyond his incredible intelligence and lust for blood whose agenda is that of hunting groups of people through inhumane methods and traps and then collecting one to be taken back as a trophy.

The premise itself was also interesting in that it involved a man, Arkin, who was breaking into a wealthily family's household to burglerize it to help pay off some debt when he sees that someone has already broken into the house; The Collector. It isn't long before the man, Arkin, sees that this villain is truly warped and hunts down groups of people for his own purposes. Arkin then decides to help save the lives of those he was trying to steal from and take down someone far worse than himself.

I loved the premise, the villain, and many of the sequences, but I thought that the pacing was a bit off and the overall execution could've been better. The negative reviews and lack of faith from even the producers that this film would warrant a sequel made it seem like this was it for The Collector. Now, I have begrudged horror movies before about making sequels, but in this case, I think it really warranted one for several reasons.

One reason is that unlike other horror movies where they really seemed to get it right in the original, The Collector made many mistakes in its execution and pacing and I believed that a sequel would really correct that and tap into the potential that the premise automactically had. The concept that the villain is an ordinary guy that can eventually be killed also made it much more interesting to me and made a sequel more understandable as there was a chance that the survivors could finally gain the upper hand and avenge themselves upon this man; there was something to thrive for because it was in the realm of obtainable whereas other horror movie baddies simply don't die due to supernatural reasons.

Finally, several years later, The Collection came out and I was actually blown away by what I saw. There were of course several sequences that could've been better developed or produced, but the amount of fresh ideas finally being implemented in a horror movie made me smile. For those who have not yet seen the film, I will dwell into several spoilers to help better illustrate my point, so please regard the warning in case you may have not seen the film.

The first thing I immediately loved about this film is that it was no longer escaping the killer or just trying to get on with your life; those are aspects of course, but they are not the whole main concept of the premise. Oh no, the protagonists are now out for blood and authorities are keen to lock away this menace known as The Collector. While the film opens up with The Collector killing mass amounts of people and automatically making his body count higher than any slasher before him, it's not long before the premise becomes that of which the hunter has become the hunted. This soon turns into "The siege on the castle" story arc that I am very guilty of loving in any context, as long as it makes sense and seems genuine to the story.

In this case, it does, as groups of people band together to take down this man for their own, personal reasons and locate his hideout within the confines of an abandoned hotel in a deserted area. Everything goes to hell sure enough as the film switches perspectives between several groups of people and gives us further knowledge of the Collector and explains what exactly happens to his "collection". We see the twisted fruits of all his murders and abductions throughout the film with some of his victims becoming experiments, others becoming art, and others becoming so warped that they side with their abuser.

The Collection takes every disturbing aspect from previous horror movie villains and even real life monsters and consolidates them into a horrifying package that makes us dread learning anything more about this monster in human form. I loved this villain because he was truly embarking on a sinister agenda for his own self serving needs and murders mass amount of people through his brilliant mind and lust for blood to accommodate those needs.

The survivors soon realize that when they get to the hotel, that both them and the Collector are hunters and it's all about a game of intellect and survival of the fittest to live and prevail. I loved seeing the traps that were laid out by the Collector and what he did to his victims because it finally began to weave together a villain that was not out to kill teenagers or his family, but to hunt and collect his trophies for his own use in multiple ways, one more horrendous than the next.

The scope of the story really seemed to becomes far more extensive within this film as there were really two stories being told at the same time. On one hand you have the protagonists striving to thwart this killer and save his captives, while on the other hand you have the story of what the Collector does and how his exploits have affected others outside the realm of the initial survivors from the first film. It's a haunting and engrossing tale that isn't too unrealistic because it mirrors events that happen in our own society, giving off a creepy vibe all on its own.

I loved how the implementation of these two stories were intertwined with each other and the sequences of death and murder that make up this horror movie. It gave it a good pace that was lacking from the first film and really capitalized on everything that made the first one good, wholly embracing and expanding upon the original's potential.

Then finally, I loved the ending and partly because it seems that the producers knew that audience members were expecting that same cliche ending of the killer disappearing at the last minute and, while that does happen, that's not the end for this particular film. As stated before, one of my favorite aspects about this movie is that the protagonist are uncompromising in their purpose of finally getting this guy and even at the end, they don't give up. They aren't as afraid anymore and understand that no one will be safe until this guy is put out of commission. My reaction went from "Oh come on" to, "This is awesome", at the ending. There was a pretty ironic and satisfying conclusion as well that made me smile not just because it was a nice ending, but because the killer does get some form of punishment that I was not expecting.

Of course the question of sequels will always come up, especially since the reviews for this film were fairly positive, but I think this should be left alone now. I really believed that the producers did a great job of tapping into the potential that lacked in the original and really developed their characters quite well and in fashions that were all satisfying towards the respective characters being developed. I understood everyone's motives in this, aside from the villain of course, and it helped me care about them even if some can he hard to like initially.

There are a few moments that were lame or fake, the opening especially, despite the violent premise, and the film couldn't reists the urge to give us some glimpse into the Collector's past, though in a subtle way at least, but I was really impressed with this film. In particular, I like the premise of the hunter becoming the hunted and the incorporation of the siege on the stronghold dynamic. A weird and effective combination of horror, Saw, and Home Alone can describe it best in my opinion. If anyone saw this film, please don't hesitate to give me your thoughts. I hoped you enjoyed the article regardless though. Take care guys.

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    • LuckyBreaks profile image

      LuckyBreaks 3 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      I haven't seen The Collector yet but I've seen The Collection. (I didn't even know about the first one for a while) But I agree, I absolutely love him as a villain. He seemed so incredibly cocky, it had me laughing in a good way. I really liked the ending as well. It annoyed me when I thought he escaped - how generic- so I was happy with the actual ending.

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