[Screen It]


(2012) (Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick) (R)

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Horror: A serial killer keeps one victim from each of his killing sprees, but picks the wrong one this time when the young woman's wealthy father hires a team of mercenaries to rescue her.
The Collector (RANDALL ARCHER), a serial killer who slaughters large numbers of people at one time but keeps one victim alive to bring back to his lair, is back on the hunt. This time around, he has rigged an entire nightclub with booby traps that slice and dice dozens of young revelers when sprung. The lone survivor is Elena (EMMA FITZPATRICK), who actually triggered The Collector's traps when she found Arkin (JOSH STEWART), the lone survivor from the first film, trapped in one of the killer's boxes.

The Collector picks the wrong victim in Elena in that she is the daughter of a millionaire named Peters (CHRISTOPHER McDONALD). Peters decides to sidestep the police altogether and assign his own mercenary security team to track down The Collector and rescue his girl. The team is led by Lucello (LEE TERGESEN), a longtime employee who looks on Elena as family. The other members are a band of weapons experts and hired guns with such names as Paz, Lin, and Wally (SHANNON KANE, BRANDON MOLALE, and ANDRE ROYO, respectively).

Using Arkin as a guide, Lucello and his team storm a rundown, abandoned hotel on the outskirts of the city, but quickly become trapped themselves and subject to The Collector's traps. They also find a collection of scarred and brainwashed victims in near zombie-like states who they have to wade through to get to Elena. Among them is Abby (ERIN WAY), who is secretly on the side of The Collector and puts everyone's lives in further jeopardy.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
This reviewer had a time conflict with another film preview the night this movie was screened for area critics. As a result, I attended a midnight screening the night of opening. In the interests of getting out this review as quickly as possible for those curious as to its content, the result is a somewhat shorter Our Take than usual.

OK, seriously. How much do one of these torture porn horror movies a la "Saw" and "Hostel" have to make for there NOT to be a sequel?! "The Collector" came out three years ago. Do you remember it? Yeah, neither do I. Part of it is probably because the film made less than $8 million at the North American box office. To put that in perspective, that's about what the latest "Twilight" makes in an afternoon just from teenage girls playing hooky from school!

So now we get a follow-up that I can't believe anyone except director/co-writer Marcus Dunstan and his accountant wanted to see. It's called "The Collection," and it's just that special film that will warm your cockles this holiday season and make you go "Ho! Ho! Ho!" Actually, those are chest pains I'm feeling from the endless cheap jump scares that Dunstan employed throughout. "No! No! No!" I cry, as I jumped on my Chevy sleigh and headed home from the theater. Do NOT see this film, my friends!

The plot? The Collector is a twisted, hideously masked sicko who slaughters large groups of people at a time, but always leaves one alive to take back to his lair and add to his collection of crying, whimpering victims who he tortures, torments, and stuffs in boxes. What he does with the rest of his day, who knows? The latest survivor is Elena (the very pretty Emma Fitzpatrick), who goes to a nightclub with her two friends unaware that The Collector has rigged it with various booby traps that when sprung slice and dice all of the other club goers to pieces.

But Elena's daddy (Christopher McDonald) is wealthy. And rather than involve the cops, he hires a team of mercenaries to use The Collector's last surviving victim, Arkin (Josh Stewart, reprising his role from the first film), to help track the killer down and save the girl. Of course he and the mercenaries become trapped in The Collector's haunted house lair, a rundown hotel in an especially blighted part of town. The rest of the film - we're talking more than an hour's worth of screen time - is literally spent with the various characters skulking around in this dark place and being picked off one by one.

I will give the film points for its elaborate set design and the fact that there are some decent actors doing their best to save this thing. Fitzpatrick and Stewart are solid as the heroine and hero, and David Simon/Tom Fontana vets Lee Tergesen of "Oz" and "Homicide: Life on the Street" & Andre Royo of "The Wire" are among the mercenaries who become brain-dead idiots once inside the killer's hideout. But they are given no discernible personalities to play. There is not even an attempt to make the hired guns fun character types a la the Sulaco crew from "Aliens." And once they are all in the creepy hotel, it's impossible to tell where everyone is in proximity to each other once they all become separated.

And, of course, like the "Saw" films (whose producers are involved in this), there is much room left open at the end for another film or series of films that not even poor box office can seem to kill. Ugh. Needless to say, this will not be a part of any movie Collection of mine down the road. I give it a 3.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed November 30, 2012 / Posted November 30, 2012

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