The Collector is written by the same people responsible for the last few Saw sequels, something the box art is sure to note prominently. With a chance to branch out and try an original property, Patrick Melton and Marcu Dunstan wrote The Collector and it, well, this might as well be Saw.
Centered on a single location, the film concerns a rampant killer who collects people by setting painful traps in their home, although what he does with them after his “job” is complete remains a mystery. In fact, much of The Collector remains a mystery. The killer has no real identity, just gruesome methods of torture. It is not difficult to figure out who he is given the stock set of characters, and his murderous ways are only partially creative (you have to tip your hat to the bear trap).
The hero of the piece is Arkin (Josh Stewart). He is attempting to rob the family being tortured, inadvertently being thrust into the role. Limited development leads to limited interest, leaving this as a piece that exists purely to show off gruesome gore. This is familiar territory.
Collector never feels tense or exciting. It follows all of the usual slasher rules, including adding the stock rebellious teenager getting naked before being killed. It uses standard plot devices, such as a little girl trapped in the middle of this twisted little game, and the killer overlooking her. The cop who responds to the 911 call is of course useless, quickly eliminated purely because it offers the special effects crew to craft another bloody kill.
There is a rather creepy glow to the killer’s eye, about the only aspect of the piece that gives him character or personality. It never becomes a story point, just an added way to enhance the creepy factor, as if nail traps, acid glue, and spilled intestines were not enough. This is all exploitative, an attempt to haul in people at the video store when the latest Saw is still in production. It certainly fits. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]
Collector was shot on 16MM to ensure its gritty, dirty look. Some late scenes seem to use Super 16 as well, given the crushed blacks and blown out colors. The AVC encode offered to the Blu-ray does what it can to keep up with the heavy grain structure, but fails. Solid colored walls turn into excessive chroma noise.
Artifacting is severe, with excessive banding/posterization throughout. If you need an example, look at the car environment at 18:27. The glowing green headrests show poor color separation. Certain scenes take on a quality not seen since the days of the Sega CD, which video game fans will remember for having a small color palette to work with.
The earliest shots take place during the day, filled with blown out highlights. Flesh tones veer towards orange. Black levels are critical given the nature of the movie, and are only marginally effective. They fall into a murky gray fairly regularly, and some minimal crush (outside of those final frames) is evident.
Colors once inside the house at night take on specific palettes. An ugly green/yellow mixture is dominate to enhance the horror apparently. Blood remains vibrant, as is the red dress worn by Andrea Roth. Close ups reveal minor levels of facial texture, mostly obscured by the complex grain structure. The transfer is reasonably sharp, especially when you consider how dim the lighting can be. Even with the black levels failing to hold, the film avoids a murky, soft quality unless intended via focus. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]
The audio track listed on the case is a generic 5.1 effort, and the disc itself holds a Dolby Digital logo. Even the menu just lists 5.1 surround, but what is offered is a DTS-HD uncompressed mix, one that is obsessed with bass. Throbbing low-end notes are constant. Is the killer moving? Cue aggressive subwoofer activity. Is someone screaming? Expect thick, heavy bass.
By the end of the film, the LFE is overwhelming. A brawl in the kitchen has shotgun blasts (with no high end to speak of), absurdly powerful punches, and that same music all blaring at once. It is nearly impossible to make out specific effects as it all bleeds together. Sure, it provides a satisfying rattle, and extends deep cleanly, but all of that is for naught if you can’t figure out what you are listening too.
Loads of surround activity has conversations hitting the rear channels. Screams are regularly placed in the back channels, and the killers motion is tracked accurately in the same manner. A constant barrage of thunder, another aspect of the low-end assault, nicely creates an immersive, enveloping quality. Glass shattering is crisp, and dialogue is well prioritized to survive the bass assault. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Director and co-writer Marcus Dunston joins co-writer Patrick Melton for an active commentary, followed by three deleted scenes that also include an alternate ending. They run about five minutes all together. A red band trailer, music video, and soundtrack clips are also included. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]