This under-the-radar flick is one of those rare gems that horror fans can easily miss...and sometimes find years later, asking themselves..."how did THAT one escape me?" Fortunately, I got to see this not too long after its recent lowkey DVD release. And wow, what a pleasant surprise---if you call a sucker punch to the gut a "pleasant" surprise!
The best way to describe this flick is kinda-sorta SAW meets HIDER IN THE HOUSE, or some variation of the "killer in the home" movie, such as BLACK CHRISTMAS. It's nasty, it's brutal, and best of all, very suspenseful.
The plot is simple: a handyman named Arkin (well-played by Josh Stewart) decides to break into his boss' home to steal some jewelry to pay off his ex-wife's debt. So he breaks into the house on a night the family is supposed to be out of town, but shockingly finds everyone
at home, and not in good spirits. As a matter of fact, they are bloody, tied up, and beaten...with some sort of masked maniac in the home...who is just finishing up booby trapping every door, window, hallway, nook and cranny of the place! Once Arkin is in, he ain't gettin' out, folks, and this masked madman known only as "The Collector" plays for keeps!
Arkin's simple heist becomes a cat and mouse game of madness, almost in a CUBE sort of way, as he struggles to get OUT of the home. Along the way, he comes across various family members being tortured and tries his best to get them out. But The Collector is an incredible adversary and will stop at nothing to KEEP his victims. Every last one of them!
To say anything more might give away too much and ruin your first view of this film. The pacing is good, the action is awesome, and the suspense is wire-tight as the story progresses. Although this film's roots are obviously old school horror, make no mistake, the violent action is amped up to 21st Century SAW standards for this "war inside the home" masterpiece. First-time director Marcus Dunstan (who coincidentally penned some of the SAW sequels) blends all the ingredients together perfectly, making a heckuva suspenseful film here---chalk full of the kind of violence usually relegated to a Jigsaw escapade. What works so well here is the killer- what we DON'T know about him (and his motivations) make the proceedings that much more elevated, insane, and terrifying. Nice and old school HALLOWEEN.
The movie is not without plot holes and faults (such as the booby traps being almost TOO elaborate), but it's best to overlook them and just go with the buttered popcorn flow of this one and have a good time with it. There are moments in here that will absolutely make you cringe---and that's what a good horror film is supposed to do.
All the actors do a fantastic job (with gorgeous Madeline Zima delivering in the female flesh department), the music score is pulse-pounding perfection, the gore effects are top-notch, and the ending will knock your socks off. Take a chance and check out THE COLLECTOR today. If you're a horror fan with a heartbeat, you'll be glad you did.