Director – Marcus Dunstan, Screenplay – Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton, Producers – Brett Forbes, Mickey Liddell, Jennifer Hilton Monroe, Julie Richardson & Patrick Rizzotti, Photography – Sam McCurdy, Music – Charlie Clouser, Visual Effects Supervisor – David Karlak, Visual Effects – Eyelandarts Studios (Supervisor – Alex Friderici), Hoax Films (Supervisor – Rick Sander) & Yashinki Studios (Supervisor – Yaron Yashinki), Special Effects Supervisor – David Fletcher, Makeup Effects – Two Hours in the Dark Inc. (Supervisor – Gary J. Tunnicliffe), Production Design – Graham ‘Grace’ Walker. Production Company – Fortress Features.
Josh Stewart (Arkin O’Brien), Emma Fitzgerald (Elena Peters), Lee Tergesen (Lucello), Randall Archer (The Collector), Shannon Kane (Paz), Erin Way (Abby), Christopher McDonald (Mr Peters), Andre Royo (Wally), Tim Griffin (Dre), Brandon Molale (Lin), Johanna Braddy (Missy), Michael Nardelli (Josh), William Peltz (Brian), Navi Rawat (Lisa O’Brien)
Elena and two friends go to an underground nightclub being held at a warehouse. This turns out to be a trap set by The Collector who massacres all the attendees. In the midst of this, Elena discovers a box with Arkin imprisoned inside and frees him, only to then be captured herself. Arkin makes an escape from the building by jumping out the window. Coming around in the hospital, he is recruited by a team of armed mercenaries headed by Lucello who have been hired by Elena’s father to find her. They want Arkin to lead them to The Collector’s lair. Arkin agrees as long as he does not have to go inside. He follows a route that takes them to the abandoned Hotel Argento, but once there Lucello forces him at gunpoint to go in with them. Inside they encounter the victims that The Collector keeps imprisoned for his sadistic games. As they move through the building, they discover that The Collector has turned the entire hotel into a series of deadly traps.
The Collector (2009) was a debut film for director Marcus Dunstan and his regular co-writer Patrick Melton. Dunstan and Melton had first appeared with the script for Feast (2006) and went onto its two sequels Feast II: Sloppy Seconds (2008) and Feast III: The Happy Finish (2009), and other genre scripts for Saw IV (2007), Saw V (2008), Saw VI (2009), Saw 3D (2010), Piranha 3DD (2012) and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019).
The Collector was an unusual film, if not a great one. (I may be a minority voice here as a number of genre commentators did put it on their best lists for 2009). Dunstan and Melton created a unique atmosphere out of the premise of burglar Josh Stewart finding himself inside a family home that had been turned into a series of lethal traps. The rest of the film however sat in the same Torture Porn territory as Dunstan and Melton’s Saw sequels and offered up some fairly extreme sadism and gore.
The Collector was always set up for a sequel and it emerges here with The Collection. No matter whether you regard The Collector as a classic or not, The Collection emerges as a considerable disappointment in comparison. The focus of the two stories has changed. The Collector was about a man trapped inside an ordinary home and trying to navigate through something familiar that had been turned into a surreal world of deadly traps.
On the other hand, the focus in The Collection is very different. Josh Stewart is still the hero – however, this time he has been forcibly recruited by a team of armed mercenaries who are entering into The Collector’s lair in a disused hotel. The Collection almost resembles a Halloween haunted house as the members of the group venture into a series of rooms, each of which holds a different menace or trap – even a cellarful of zombified drug addicts during one of the film’s more absurd scenes. Equally, the original’s subterranean darklit look has been abandoned in favour of standard, run of the mill videography shot at ordinary room lighting levels.
More importantly, The Collection disappoints in terms of the Torture Porn extremes of the first film and Dunstan and Melton’s Saw films. You get a sinking feeling with this one when the first major sadism set-piece is the absurd looking one where The Collector brings a scythe device that looks like the thresher on a combine harvester down to massacre dozens of dancing patrons at a nightclub. None of the rest of the film improves on that much – a victim crushed in an iron maiden, throats being slashed, various mercenaries being impaled by trap devices – and so on. These are routinely conveyed and hold none of the grimness with which we saw people being despatched in Hostel (2005) or the Saw sequels.
Marcus Dunstan subsequently went on to direct and he and Patrick Melton to write The Neighbor (2016) and Unhuman (2022).