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'The Collection': a bloody shame

| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

A few years ago audiences watched in horror as Arkin (Josh Stewart) endured all manner of torture in Marcus Dunstan's “The Collector.” Now audiences get the chance to cheer/ squirm along as Arkin exacts revenge in Dunstan's follow-up, “The Collection.”

The sequel picks up with Arkin escaping from The Collector's box during a sexually charged entrapment party at a dance club. But The Collector won't go long without a victim. After destroying dozens of people with his wicked assortment of crushing and slicing tools, The Collector takes gorgeous Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick) hostage.

Arkin's escape may be the salvation Elena needs from the demented Collector. Emma's father, injured in a car crash at the movie's beginning (a weird subplot that is somehow supposed to make us feel a special bond between father and daughter), hires a team of assassins to invade The Collector's compound and secure Elena. They will use Arkin as the tip of their spear and their bait.

Although Arkin owes Elena's family nothing and has never met the hired killers, there is an immediate and unbelievable hostility between the scruffy torture victim and the team's leader, Lucello (Lee Tergesen).

When Elena escapes from the box in which she was transported, she discovers that she has been taken hostage by a sick man who is disassembling human bodies and reconstructing them like life-sized dolls.

Lucello's squad has to avoid a series of booby traps, like a torture-porn version of the board game Mouse Trap, in order to reach Elena and save her from certain death in the dark, labyrinthine warehouse. The chase and escape deliver no palpable sense of fear, and the emotional story underlying the plot has no resonance.

“The Collection” never hits audiences in the stomach with any immediate sense of danger, and the dialogue and most of the performances feel entirely too campy for the movie to actually be taken seriously. Maybe that is the point, but I don't think so.

More than anything, the sequel feels like an excuse for Dunstan and his effects team to see how creative they could be in the bloody killing of people using all manners of pointy metal objects. But, as is often the case, one man's trash is another man's treasure. While I shook my head at the ridiculousness of it all and quietly left the theater after the screening, dozens of other folks cheered and hollered with glee at the film's conclusion.

And, no, The Collector's face is never revealed, so that possibly leaves the door open for a third movie in the series.

Matthew Odam is a staff writer for the Austin American-Statesman.

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