The latest entry to the ‘torture porn’ genre, The Collector is a geeky exploration of callousness and abhorrent cruelty of no discernable merit. The skeletal plot revolves around Arkin (Josh Stewart), an ex-con with an ex-wife and a penchant for cracking safes, forced one night to ransack his employer’s home to save his estranged family from loan sharks intent on being repaid. Believing the family to be on holiday, Arkin expects everything to run smoothly, foolishly forgetting to factor in the probability that a motiveless knife-wielding psychopath might be terrorising the house having rigged it with a variety of limb-lopping booby-traps.
What follows is a tiresome roster of sadistic set-pieces; the errant daughter of the family returns home with her boyfriend only for the latter to become ensnared in a sea of bear traps; a mother’s mouth is sewn shut; a father is gruesomely disembowelled; hands are shredded by strategically placed razors on windows and doors. The constant wince inducing agony of the film is exhausting whilst its fetishistic bloody-mindedness is concerning.
The film’s questionable morality is exemplified by a scene in which the mother of the household, handcuffed in a bath awaiting more unpleasantness, whimpers, “I’d contemplated rape…but not this.” It strikes a disturbing chord, as if the writers are congratulating themselves on inventing a concept worse than a sexual assault. Except, for all its posturing and clinically deployed visceral action, The Collector is a distinctly tepid film utterly lacking in the psychological punches that it aspires to throw. Any dramatic revelation or rational explanation as to why the gimpesque ‘Collector’ perpetrates his grotesque acts is completely abandoned in favour of an infantile indulgence in unbridled nihilism, a dingy wallowing in all the seediest of Hollywood excesses. If intended as an exercise in appalling sadism and mean spiritedness, The Collector succeeds on both fronts.