Here’s the short version: A masked madman (played by a guy you never heard of) tortures and murders a bunch of people (also played by people you never heard of) in his hotel of horrors. That may be as much as you need to know. For some of you, it may be more than you need to know. However, I’ll assume there are a select few who are actually interested in The Collection and will go at least a little further. Speaking of a “select few,” I must confess I am one of the select few who actually saw the film that spawned this sequel. Yes, this is the second in a series that started in 2009 with the same director. The first was called The Collector, and the fact that it grossed a mere $7 million would — in a sane world — preclude much chance of a sequel. However, this is the world of the movies where, let’s face it, sanity has little place. (Sometimes that’s a good thing. This is not one of those times.) So here we are three years later picking up where we left off.
Now, it would be the height of mendacity were I to claim that I actually remember how the original film ended. In fact, I had to be reminded that I’d even seen it. I am, however, prepared to believe that Arkin (Josh Stewart) ended up bloody, battered and bruised in one of the Collector’s (then played by someone named Juan Fernandez) steamer trunks. I cannot actually conceive of any reason why the Collector (now played by Randall Archer) has dragged the damned trunk along with him to the nightclub massacre that more or less opens the film. This does, in any case, allow the lone survivor, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick), to let him out, thereby setting the plot in motion. That, of course, is the important point, since — slender though it may be — the film needed some sort of a plot. It transpires that Elena is the next occupant of the Collector’s trunk — and Elena’s filthy rich father is determined to get her back, even if that means having the recuperating Arkin snatched out of the hospital. Arkin — the only person to ever get away from the Collector (thereby ending up in two of these things) — figured out where he was taken in the last film (don’t ask how) and leads them to the fiend’s fiendish lair.
The lair turns out to be the disused Argento Hotel (throw horror fans a bone) which the Collector has turned into an architecturally improbable chamber of horrors full of booby traps, operating rooms, body parts (some artistically displayed) and a cellar full of enslaved brain dead victims who function as quasi-zombie guards. (All but the last are in a bunch of Saw movies — some of which were written by director Marcus Dunstan and his writing partner.) Much splattery nonsense ensues — some of it rather unpleasantly sadistic, and none of it particularly clever. Very little of it makes narrative sense (the primary thing it shares with the name-dropped Argento’s movies) or generates much in the way of tension. I will concede, however, that it at least looks like a movie, which is to say it’s professionally lit and photographed by people who know what things like a tripod and a Steadicam are. That puts it a notch or two above things like Paranormal Activity 4 and Silent House, but I’ve seen home movies that were a notch or two above those, so that’s not saying much. Rated R for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and brief nudity.
Playing at Carolina Asheville Cinema 14, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher