By Admin | August 11, 2009

What could possibly motivate a human being to work as a handyman on the house of a nice, wealthy family during the day and then steal their valuables at night when they’re supposed to be on vacation? Money? Hatred? Psychopathic tendencies? Well, if you are Arkin (Josh Stewart, a soporific version of Ed Norton), the unwitting protagonist of Marcus Dunstan’s tortuous thriller “The Collector,” you would do it because your ex-wife needs to pay back a loan shark. You get the feeling that if you don’t somehow produce the necessary funds, she’ll never see your young daughter again. So, you call your “handler,” who arranged for you to work at the house in the first place, and plead your case. He begrudgingly agrees to a 60-40 split of whatever there is to be found in the family’s safe. You have until midnight to complete the theft. With the exception of a black dog that lunges out from the darkness and bites at your face, you are able to breach the threshold and reach the target area without incident.

You soon discover that you are not alone. You’re not up against any pissed off supernatural entities; instead, your adversary is a cruel and svelte nutjob (Juan Fernandez) who is quite displeased that you’ve interrupted his sadistic, thieving activities: taking people and their sense of safety. For approximately seventy of the film’s eighty-eight minutes of running time, not only are you trying to outsmart and evade the other guy, but you’re also attempting to help the family (husband, wife, and two daughters) while avoiding the traps that you quickly learn are rigged throughout the house.

On a very basic level, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton have concocted a premise that would pique the curiosity of anyone on the prowl for a brew of epileptic opening credits, close-ups of body trauma, and imperfect characters. I had the entire theatre auditorium to myself when I saw “The Collector” late afternoon on Friday. If there were even two other persons watching it too, I might have been more focused on my emotional response to the visual and aural jump-scares. But alas, I continually weave together in my mind where I wish “The Collector” would go narratively and thematically. I can appreciate watching the exploits of an enigmatic, masked, and seemingly motive-less psychokiller as much as the next slasher fan, but not this time around. “The Collector’s” destructive behavior enters the realm of the ridiculous before it ever touches the land of evil-badassness.

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