When I was a little girl, I loved collecting stickers. Looking back on it, it may have been one of my first OCD comfort zones; I would categorise them by colour or overall theme or size and take them to school to ‘show off’. Yep, I was pretty awesome, me and my sticker collection. Forget Beyblade or Pokemon cards or everyone shouting "It’s Time to d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-duel"
No, my pride and joy was my sticker collection. So when I say I know the immense satisfaction that comes from a perfect collection, I say it with true conviction. To say I therefore share a connection with a psychopathic serial killer with a Home Alone fetish is quite unsettling, but unfortunately just as truthful.
The Collector is a visceral horror movie that doesn’t skimp on the Saw like gore and contraptions, but tries to stay a decent distance from the forced campy nature of the Jigsaw killer series. The Collector instead builds its tension from the lead character Arkin’s (Josh Stewart) cat and mouse chase with the Collector – a killer who after indulging in a little murder, torture and breaking and entering (not as serious a crime granted, but still a valid one) takes one victim alive as part of his collection and uses them as bait for his next murder spree. There is blood and screaming and all sorts of fun murder inspired traps.
All the while Arkin is trying to both escape the house and search for its youngest inhabitant Hannah (Karley Scott Collins).
It’s not hard to see how The Collector has garnered a cult movie status. The film is distinct in its nature; the camp may not be forced, but so vivid are the traps and deaths that they can't help but feel a little ghost story around the campfire, roasting marshmallows, “is that a-run-of-the-mill hockey player or is Jason taking a midnight skinny dip”.
It sits comfortably on the line that makes you feel so uncomfortable about the gruesome deaths that you kind of want to laugh at first, slowly realising that none of it is a joke. It dangles the ‘camp carrot’ in front of your face, you feel sure enough to take the bait, and then it hits you with the realism that you’re only laughing because it’s that messed up. The little girl isn’t conveniently safe, the wife doesn’t get a free ride to the end, the family pet hasn’t automatically made it to the safe zone; no one is able to avoid the bloody hand of the Collector.
The unsettling atmosphere created by director Marcus Dunstan, that nothing is off limits, that any and all characters are up for an untimely and (knife in the stomach that is slowly) twisted death makes for a suspense sponge of a movie. You’ll cringe at the Collector’s contraption kills, yet you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. The main character is a walking redemption story and you’ll want to watch only to cheer him on and make sure he’s alive to get an “awwwwww” moment at the end with his daughter. The tone of this movie will constantly make you question if it will ever happen, but never fear I’m sure everything will turn out just fine.
3 and a ½ out of 5 stars