For 6 long years the Saw franchise has been dominating the American torture horror market. There hasn't been too much competition and keeping a genre fresh with only a few sequels is a pretty impossible task. So fans have been awaiting a new contender to take the stage. The Collector could very well be just that. A nifty piece of gruesome horror and sadistic entertainment.
From the very first minutes it is clear that Dunstan had a decent budget to work with. Maybe a little surprising for a first-time director, but some extra digging reveals that Dunstan isn't exactly new to the the world of film. He scripted Saw 4-6 and the complete Feast trilogy, which seems to have earned him enough credit in the American gore scene to land him in the director's chair. With The Collector he continues his fine tradition of sadistic horror and goes head to head with the Saw franchise.
The concept of The Collector is pretty simple. The titular criminal is guy who loves to collect humans. His motives remain vague and unclear, his methods on the other hand are explained in full and lavish detail. He derives his pleasure from entering a house and setting traps to catch all inhabitants, playing a rather cruel cat and mouse game before finishing them off. When an unsuspecting thief breaks in while our collector is doing his thing, the thief is in for the surprise of his life.
It doesn't really sound like much, but with films like these it's not so much about original concepts or smart storylines. The execution is what makes or brakes the film. And so The Collector turns out to be a true genre piece that bends as little rules as possible, but tries to indulge the fans with as much gory details as possible, leaving very little to the imagination of its audience.
Dunstan proves himself quite skilled with the visual side of things. Most of the film plays at night, granting the film in a very dark and brooding atmosphere. This in heavy contrast with the scenes in the basement of the house, which are draped in an eerie green glow. The editing is snappy and crisp as you would expect from a film like this, increasing the tension and always keeping a tight pace. The film is rather short, so there's little time for filler.
The soundtrack is decent enough, though pretty predictable. Except for the opening track that is, which literally cleaned the dust from my speakers. Distorted and gritty industrial techno set to an onslaught of bright, high-contrast images. Shame this particular style was only used for the opening credits. Acting performances were sufficient, with many young faces having little ambition to belong to the greats of modern-day actors. On the other hand, better actors wouldn't have made this a better film. These kind of films are not really about touching performances or dramatic impact.
The collector himself could've been styled a little better. His posture is impressive and there are some nifty little touch-ups giving him almost demon-like eyes, but the lame SM cap makes him look a little cheap. As one of the many masked maniacs he comes of as pretty plain. Luckily his methods of torture are way more fun and are aimed to entertain the fans of mean-spirited horror. The ending is wide open and leaves plenty of opportunities for a sequel, though I'm not letting that spoil my fun yet. I'll worry about that when an actual sequel is announced.
The pacing is fast, the tension strong and the concept fun enough to make it a lovely little genre film. Dunstan proves he has more to show than writing scripts for the rest of his career and delivers a film that is quite sure to please the fans. It's a simple film, there's not much here except atmospheric cruelty, but what it does it does extremely well. The definition of a good genre film is you ask me.