.The Collector reappears, reaping a bloodbath on an underground rave, and upon capturing the sole female survivor of the party, he finds that his previous "one", Arkin (Josh Stewart), has escaped. Battered in a hospital bed, Arkin is soon approached by a man hired by the girl's father to retrieve her alive asking for his help in locating the kidnapper. After begrudgingly agreeing, a team is assembled ready to infiltrate the Collector's abandoned warehouse lair...
Like its predecessor, this sequel to Marcus Dunstan's The Collector (2009) has many respectable underdog qualities. It's a minor miracle this sequel exists at all, much less given such a wide theatrical release, with the first's dismal box office; inching give-or-take a mere million over its meager production budget. The studio end even had enough confidence not to strong-arm director/writer Dunstan and writer Patrick Melton into simply rerunning the story to see if it'll make money this time, but let the pair create a real continuation of the foundation laid in their previous effort. A horror sequel that stands on its own feet is always something to root for, especially under all these circumstances.
Sadly, in spite of this good will, The Collection ends up being undistinguished. The prevailing issue is how frustratingly safe and routine its story plays out. As the Saw series wore on, The Collector proved to a refreshing take on the waning "torture porn" wave from the writers of the downslope of Jigsaw's saga. Some have charged Brandon Cox's slick cinematography as looking like a flashy music video, but Dunstan's constant attention to detail elevates this look to a cold style that recalls one of his major influences, Dario Argento. Ultimately, it feels like the horror film Dunstan and Melton actually wanted to make instead of hurriedly struggling to continue a more popular series that should have ended as a trilogy.
The biggest sin in The Collection is perhaps the titular character himself. The Collector is now portrayed by stuntman Randall Archer, not Juan Fernández, possessing none of the serpentine grace and sadistic joy of before. He's little more than a hulking guy that shows a little too much emotion, takes off his mask (although we never clearly see his face), and even says something at one point. Humanistic touches such as these might be the only thing besides comedy that can truly harm a slasher baddie's reputation.
In the first film, the silent character's terrifying menace stemmed largely out of his total mystery. His purpose, background, and methodology are unexplained and that's frighteningly bewildering. A quality especially disorienting today with audiences used to everything tidily laid forth by the time the end credits roll. With so many possibilities (he didn't even have to be human, think about it), even the most basic revelations behind the Collector are culled from a dusty Slasher 101 textbook. Just another murderous loon, that's all.
And remember how in The Collector virtually every room of the house seemed a spider's web of torturous booby traps? Not so much here, even deep in the madman's ghoulish warehouse filled with his fleshy, stitched together masterpieces and psychotic living leftovers. The usual issues with the old "extraction team" concept persist, mainly how all four members of the group surrounding Arkin just don't come off as even holding a gun before. They're just included to aid in the body count with dumb movie names like Paz, Wally, and Dre. And finally, and maybe this was because of the pressure of the Saw series, the blood quota seems meek compared to the first outing. There's no showstoppers, even the opening rave slaughter is a bright strawberry colored shower, and any violence is shot with quick editing and a shy camera. Sure, gore does not a horror movie make, but I don't walk into a Burger King expecting healthy options, you know?
So if you haven't seen The Collector (2009), throw it on your short list, or better yet reserve a slot in your collection. To sum it up, in one of The Collection's featurettes, Dunstan is seen on set instructing actors on how to approach a scene with Goblin's Suspiria theme playing over a stereo. This sequel is like the Dario Argento of today, seemingly out-of-touch and just thankful to be still working while the first installment is the Argento of yore that's still endlessly written about. Imaginative, bold, and unafraid to take risks to debase viewers. Similarly comparing this pair of films, each literally don't seem made by the same people and I doubt we'll see this franchise get a chance at redemption...