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Those who go queasy at the sight of torture, blood and gore must stay away from Marcus Dunstan’s The Collection. That is pretty much all there is to the film. And those of you who do not go queasy at the sight of gore, you must stay away from this film even more, because the only people who are truly subjected to torture in this horror/torture flick is the audience. As mindless as slapstick films named after the progeny of turbaned folk, but far more difficult to sit through, The Collection is as avoidable as it can get.
I like to look to draw positives from every movie; the positive I drew from The Collection is that at least the worst film I’ve watched on the big screen this year isn’t an Indian one. The Collection, by sheer virtue of its genre, caters to a very niche audience. After all, not many people like to spend an hour and a half watching body parts being dismembered, human beings being tortured with sharp steel jaws and spikes, hairy tarantulas walking over a girl’s face and the likes. Such people should any way stay away from films like this and others of its ilk.
But films of this genre do have their hardcore, loyal audience. Though I don’t particularly belong to that category, I do enjoy blood-and-gore on screen, when done well. In fact, I actually liked the first installment of Saw, a 'seminal' film in this genre, if I could say such a thing. The further films in the series went from bad to worse, but that is another story. Or Eli Roth’s Hostel for that matter, another film that I quite enjoyed for its B-movie indulgence. From Dusk Till Dawn is another film that comes to mind - though it was about vampires, it was equally gory.
Here though, I doubt even hardcore loyalists will draw anything at all from The Collection. A random assortment of torture and murder scenes with no regard for space, time or logic, this is the kind of film that makes 82 minutes seem like eternity and then some. And it isn’t just the wanton castration of human bodies that is the problem. The excruciating non-imaginativeness of every scene and situation without even the semblance of an effort to inject the slightest credibility into the treatment makes you almost wish that someone drove a rusty steel spike through you instead. At least your own torture would end then.
All films, good or bad, have a ‘story’. This one does too; a particularly silly one. Through a montage of newscasts, we are introduced to the fact that a violent serial killer is on the prowl – one who kills in numbers at random locations and then abducts people from the scene, their whereabouts completely unknown after that. Inevitably, he abducts a girl, which then sets off a chain of events that lead to a group of men and women trapped in an abandoned hotel that is actually a maze-like deathly lair belonging to our masked serial killer. His barbaric instruments of torture and death are all over; tripping over a tiny thread can cause god-knows-what horrific contraption to skewer you.
It doesn’t help that firstly the writers and director, and then the cast, take themselves way too seriously. Had they chosen to go Robert Rodriguez on this film, it could actually have made for a hangout movie; where friends can laugh and snigger while the people involved with the film laugh at themselves as well. No such luck here. Everyone clearly believed that a masterpiece was in the making. The cast is full of familiar faces, but not familiar names; they are all bit actors who’ve made fleeting appearances in big movies. On1 some level I actually felt bad for them. They clearly were under the impression that this is their big break to stardom, which it is most certainly not.
The Collection is supposedly a sequel to a cult horror film, The Collector, which was also directed by Marcus Dunstan, director and co-writer of this film. I haven’t watched that, and if it is anything like this, I’m glad I haven’t, because The Collection scrapes the bottom of the cinematic barrel.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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