19.4.10

I’m unclear on what The Collector’s plan was.

The Collector retells one of the oldest stories there is – the tale of a pair of guys who write Saw movies trying to recycle a bunch of torture/trap ideas that were vetoed by Saw producers and call it a film.

I’m not here to spoil the entire plot (as I often do), although ‘thief gets trapped in a house with a serial killer’ is basically all that happens, so it would be hard to ruin – the entry I’d like to make in the ‘criticizing (the) Collector canon’ is an examination of just what the hell the Collector’s plan was.

The Collector has a relatively simple MO that gets bogged down in the filmmakers’ insistence on making him a trap-themed killer. I’ll explain- He breaks into your house, presumably when you’re not there, although the film doesn’t make that part entirely clear, leaving a living person in a chest to act as ‘bait’.

Now, it’s at this point, the point where you find a creepy steamer trunk in your bedroom, at which a normal person would start calling the police. The Collector is counting on them not doing this, however, correctly predicting that they’ll just assume that the people renovating their home have left a mysterious steamer trunk with a creepy note on it. Because that is a thing that contractors often do. No, they wait until they’ve opened the box and discovered the mutilated man inside before seeking assistance. But by then it’s way too late.

You may have noticed above that I mentioned contractors – that’s because The Collector finds his targets while working as the world’s worst exterminator at buildings being renovated. Why ‘world’s worst’? Well, when he’s not failing to kill the bugs inside this house’s exterior light fixture-

He’s carefully carrying spiders out of the building.

That’s right, he’s not just a preposterous serial killer. He also sucks at his day job.

Also, since he’s only killing families whose houses he’s worked at, shouldn’t the cops be on to him by now? Or perhaps the film covers his first three killings, and he’s brand new at this.

In any event, The Collector isn’t the most complicated man in the world. All he wants to do is tie people up and brutally cut them to pieces. Which raises an important question: why the house full of traps? Who are they intended for. Here’s a quick rundown of The Collector’s chosen methods of killing.

Floor covered in bear traps.

Floor covered in glue that is also somehow acid.

Windows that look boarded up, but are really mounted on springs and have razors that clamp down on fingers when you move them.

A hallway full of magic slicing wire. Seriously, touch it for a split second and your flesh just flies open.

Needles in phone handsets. Although that falls more under the category of ‘dick move’ rather than ‘murder attempt’.

A golf club, that if you grab it, makes a wire grab your ankle that pulls you down a hallway, into the air, and drops you ten feet down to a hardwood floor.

A pair of scissors that, if you grab them, make a loop of wire grab your wrist that drags you through the air and slams you into a wall covered in nails.

A staircase covered in nails.

Fishhooks hung from the ceiling of a bathroom.

A chandelier covered in kitchen knives.

Guillotine set up in window frame.

A machete hung over a doorway, ready to swing at the head of whoever walks through.

Now, it’s possible that I’m overstating the fact, but this doesn’t make a lick of sense when you consider that all of these traps seem designed to kill, at most, one single person.

That’s Robocop 3. It’s his house. After The Collector has knocked out him and his wife, then spent somewhere along the lines of six hours turning the place into a ridiculous house o’traps - seriously, six hours from exurban palace to improvised abattoir – he lets R3 run around the house freely, so that he can get himself killed. This happens relatively quickly, and triggers just 2 of the traps.

And that’s the only person he’d planned on killing. According to the guy from the teaser (remember the steamer trunk above?), the killer ‘Collects People’, and ‘always takes one’. Now, at this point it’s unclear whether the one that he keeps is also the person he uses as ‘bait’ in the next house, or whether those are two separate people.

Let’s give The Collector the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he’s taking just one person out of the house. At this point there are, as far as The Collector knows, just two people left in the house, mother and daughter. Although it’s debatable whether he knows the daughter was in the house, since she’s fairly well-hidden, and presumably has been the entire time he’s been working on the house, since she wasn’t tied up with the rest of her family.

So what, was he going to put either the wife or daughter through the gauntlet and then head out with the final victim? Two people? He went to all this trouble to kill two people? And when you see the state that the wife was in when we first see her-

She profoundly doesn’t look like she’s going to be in any kind of shape to go running through a gauntlet of death.

Now, some wag may point out that the Collector set up all the other traps in case someone happened onto the house while he was busy killing – that way the traps would take care of them, and keep them from calling the police.

Except that The Collector couldn’t possibly have thought that anyone would come walking into the house unawares. The fact that another daughter and her boyfriend do, in fact, do that is more attributable to terrible writing than planning on The Collector’s part.

Here are things that someone living at the house would have to overlook when arriving home in order to make it inside to get murdered:

All lights suspiciously off despite it not being that late.

Windows boarded up.

Four new deadbolts installed in side door in a preposterous location.

Security system deactivated.

Giant mean dog who’ll bark at anything is now chained up in the yard for some reason.

How on earth could someone not notice any of that while entering the house? Yet somehow the daughter and her boyfriend fail to.

Oh, and since I had to watch this god-damn movie again to get all of those screenshots anyways, here’s a few random things that bugged me.

This is Arkin (the thief main character. Who has an entirely plausible first name, which really exists in real life) picking a lock, then opening and closing a door before putting any latex gloves on.

This is the staircase that’s covered in protruding nails. Notice a profound lack of those nails in this shot. Arkin looks directly at the staircase right here, and believe you me, in bright moonlight there’s no way you couldn’t notice these-

 See what I mean? And that’s in no more light than there was the first time.

ow here’s a professional thief, worried about moving quietly because he fears there may be someone left in the house, walking up the middle of a staircase. Then he has the gall to be shocked when one of them creaks.

Note that the fishhooks are a full six feet into the bathroom, so that it’s basically impossible for someone to walk into the room without seeing them.

Why was the side door unlocked when Arkin arrived at the house, then locked later on? Did the Collector leave his special locks open while he was setting up the house? If so, why?

At the 26 minute mark, Arkin walks down the death-wire hallway. Notice a conspicuous lack of death wire. Just seven basically real-time minutes later, the hallway is full of death wire. But The Collector was busy stomping around the house and torturing people. How could he possibly have had the time to put that up?

Who keeps their gun in a safe, but the bullets in a drawer? Why would you make it more difficult for yourself in the event of a gun emergency?

When Arkin is screaming to warn the people outside not to enter the house o’ doom, why does he only yell when the thunder is crashing? Here’s a tip, pal – the thunder can’t make continuous noise – you can. And don’t tell me he didn’t want The Collector to hear him. What’s more important: not letting the serial killer know you’re in the house, or getting the police there as quickly as possible?

After the dog sees them crawl up a laundry chute in the basement-

It somehow knows to immediately run up to the first-floor bathroom in order to find them. Is that the kind of thing a dog can actually figure out?

I’m not going to question all of the times Arkin elects to not finish The Collector off when he has the chance, but seriously, who runs out into the middle of the road to wave down a car?

What bothers me most about ‘The Collector’ is just how profoundly the film’s gimmick gets in the way of its effectiveness. The basic premise ‘Guy robs the profoundly wrong house’ is a good one, and his attempts to rescue the family while avoiding a serial killer could easily have been made into a gripping film. At every turn, however, the overcomplicated nature of the killer’s theme creates logic and plausibility holes in what should have been a tight, tense little movie.

You know, I’d never thought I’d call a Saw movie ‘restrained’, but compared to this mess, I’m guessing that tight directorial and producorial reins being kept on these screenwriters is something of a necessity.

7 comments:

theverysmallarray said...

What, are you twelve? Seriously.

knobgobbler said...

Sounds mighty ridiculous... I'm glad I avoided it... if only I'd avoided all those dumbass 'Saw' movies as well...

Anonymous said...

the dog followed their smell? he is really well trained by the collector?..maybe lol

Anonymous said...

At the beginning of the movie the family was meant to go on vacation or something, and they were meant to leave that day. I think the older daughter (especially at the start of the movie the daughter flat out stated that she didn't want to leave) probably ran away temporarily and only came back when she thought her family was already gone. I think thats the only reason she didn't notice anything when she came. Other than that, your list of plotholes is quite correct.

Anonymous said...

Lights suspiciously off? The parents are supposed to be GONE out of the house on vacation.. Why leave the lights on? No need. Not suspicious.

2. Boarded up windows, probably hard to tell when it's the middle of the night with the curtains closed and all you can think of is sneaking inside with your boyfriend. It's called an oblivious self-centered teenager. Or however old she was, she clearly wasn't smart.

3. Because she can so see the new locks from the outside...an then immediately proceeds to making out with her boyfriend.. I probably would not notice either.

4. Security system off? That one makes sense, she's just dumb for forgetting they had one clearly. That one made me face palm. So I agree there.

5. Wasn't the dog in the side yard? The couple approached directly from the front and probably went around the side the dog was on. (I can't validly debate against this one though.. Depends all on the location of the dog..)

6. The gun in a safe when you have a teenage daughter who clearly is not smart and a little girl in the house.. And it is also a rule that you keep gun and bullets separate. It's part of proper gun ownership.. With an upstairs bedroom, he can easily take out the gun before any intruder gets up there. That is..if he or his wife is a light sleeper.

7. The fish hooks in the bathroom, can't recall correctly, but perhaps he had been looking down at the girl? They were more like 3 to 4 feet from the door. The average man's stride step can take them a full 2 and a half feet forward in one step. (Another point I can't validly debate against as I need to re-watch the scene to see where his focus was..) Even still... This does not excuse the fact that the young girl could have pointed out the fish hooks as well.

Aside from that.. Yeah.. Who opens a chest that clearly just rattled in front of you.. (Beginning of the movie..) .. Face palm. And yeah, the nails on the stairs being there, then not. The wires being hung up so fast. You do have many valid points, but I'm just pointing out the ones that could be explained.

Anonymous said...

**Correction to number 5: they probably went around the side the dog was NOT on. *Face palm.*

NukSooKow 1980 said...

Was entertaining, but a load of nonsense too. Not to be taken too seriously as you'll pick this one apart if you engage your brain as you watch.