Dead or Alive?

It's a crime thriller, a home invasion flick and a masked serial-killer slashfest. Really?



The Collector shows what results when high concept meets low budget, in multiple styles — it's a home invasion flick, a crime thriller and masked serial-killer slashfest. Here the "hero" is Arkin (Josh Stewart), a cat burglar who cracks into a plush country house for a precious gem, but instead runs headfirst into a masked mystery man with a penchant for laying elaborate, Rube Goldberg-style traps. More, Arkin faces a midnight deadline and a moral dilemma: Does he steal the goods and pay off his wife's gambling debt to the mob, or risk his life rescuing the family held hostage by the cloaked madman.

The team of Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton wrote the last few Saw flicks, and they effectively dip into that trick bag here; the hazards include dozens of dangling fish hooks, a doorway webbed with razor wire and a room coated with some sort of peanut-butter-thick sticky acid.

The Collector flirts heavily with torture porn, but it has enough cleverness and wit to blunt some of the gruesome impact that makes such movies a chore. Despite arty touches, it's clear Dunstan's aiming for pure butt-squirming shocks, such as nails through body parts, a mean jar of cockroaches, and one spectacular death by bear traps. There are buckets of old-school gore. But it's the promise of violence that's creepy, and plenty of revolting moments here will amuse hardcore horror buffs and leave everyone else feeling trapped.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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