Saturday, August 1, 2009

I Like Movies, Too: The Collector

The amount of comic books I read dwarfs the number of movies I see in a given week or month, so when it came to choosing a focus for my blog, it was really no contest. But I do watch a lot of movies. I just came back from one, as a matter of fact--The Collector.

I wanted to see Funny People, but my wife wasn't around and wants to see it with me. I also wanted to see 500 Days of Summer, but who wants to watch a romantic comedy alone or as a third wheel? So I settled for the new horror movie of the week.

I love me some horror movies, and especially in the theater. No matter how thin the plot or hokey the scares, I'm always entertained by the well-received screams, misplaced laughter, and inappropriate crowd commentary in horror movies. I actually look forward to what would be a nuisance during a film in any other genre. And considering The Collector is just a series of escalating torture-porn setups and executions (pun intended), the audience of mostly date-night couples and a few groups of teens was quite vocal.

I enjoyed the movie, though I won't go as far as to call it good. Just like the Saw movies--some of the creators of which had a hand in this flick--the very basic premise is really just an excuse for some creatively sadistic special murder effects. I like how, with the Saw movies, the story that drives the killing is simple and to the point, and there is continuity running through each of the sequels that makes an otherwise ridiculous story feel almost organic. I can buy into the dime store moralizing behind Jigsaw's serial killings in those movies, and I like the films stylistically.

The Collector looks and sounds like a Saw movie. It even kind of plays out like one in broad strokes. The eponymous villain in this movie isn't nearly as developed or interesting as Jigsaw, but that lack of development (really a lack of any explanation or justification at all) makes him more unpredictable and scary. However, I definitely don't see this franchise playing out over 6+ episodes without some serious character development in a follow-up. Really, my favorite part of the movie is the idea of the premise, which is given away in the previews: a thief is forced to play the hero when he breaks into a home on the same night as the Collector. I like that the protagonist, my anchor for the movie, wasn't some squealing teenage girl, but rather a shade-of-gray anti-hero.

If you're like me, and enjoy the collective theater experience for horror movies, you'll have a good time with this one. If (also like me) you hate paying theater prices, this will probably play better on late-night cable or as a rental. Be sure to put the kids to bed first, though, unless you want them dreaming of bear traps through the skull, melting cats, and exploding German shepherds.

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