[The Collection]
Synopsis:When the Collector takes his latest victim, Elena, to an old hotel he's turned into his lair of torture and death. Arkin is tapped by a team of mercenaries. Hired by Elena's dad, they in turn enlist the services of Arkin, the only person to ever escape The Collector's wrath.

Cast:Josh Stewart, Johnny Yong Bosch, Emma Fitzpatrick, Shannon Kane, Tim Griffin, William Peltz, Eaddy Mays, Michael Nardelli, Justin Mortelliti, Michael H. Cole, Arloa Reston, Courtney Lauren Cumming, Lee Tergesen, Christopher McDonald.

My Thoughts:Worthy sequel!

Review:"The Collector" was one of 2009's surprise horror films. It gained a cult following pretty quickly, and was in some ways a spin off to the "Saw" movies. Considering that it dealt with a villain who set deadly traps to ensnare and harm his victims. However unlike Jigsaw, he had no "moral motive" behind it. The Collector was and always will be a villain. As opposed to Jigsaw who operates under the premise that he's "punishing the wicked".

In a way, that kind of makes The Collector the more honest of the two. Then again, at least Jigsaw still had many traces of his own humanity left. Thus, he's less "animal" than The Collector is/was. In "The Collection". The mysterious masked villain has returned. This time, he has set up a huge party for himself. As three young people attend a secret rave, only to later find out that their host is...The Collector. Who during the festivities...activates a nasty little ginsu device that cuts down most of the partiers "literally".

Leaving just a few alive. Including a girl named Elena. It's here that we also find out that Arkin from the first film is still alive. While The Collector is busy with Elena, Arkin makes a daring escape. Which purposely or perhaps non-purposely...mimics Jet Li's warehouse-window launch from "Romeo Must Die". Arkin soon is taken into custody by the good folks at a nearby hospital, to get him patched up from all of his injuries. It's there that he's approached by a man named Lucello. Lucello works for Elena's father, and needs Arkin's help in getting her back before The Collector kills her.

Arkin agrees, and thus a shaky alliance is formed. One that just might be the ONLY thing that can stop The Collector from claiming anymore victims. Elena included. I really thought it to be difficult to prepare a sequel to a film like "The Collector". As a movie, it was a decent flick. But when you look at the damage the villain did in that film. And then at the end, snatching Arkin. You kind of think how can there be a continuation from that? In a hypothetical scenario. One in which the probabilities are high more often than not. You think, Arkin's probably been tortured to death or something.

And The Collector either disappears for awhile, or picks up where he left off somewhere else. But writer/director Dunstan, and co-writer Melton...managed to craft a pretty good story. One that carries the movie in important areas, and makes it go as far as it needs to with its processes. The acting isn't below average either. In fact, for this sort of movie it's pretty damn good! If anything, the casting is a big improvement over the first film. Josh Stewart is back for story purposes. Continuation is always appreciated. Plus Stewart seems really tailor-made to play Arkin. A guy who's certainly not a villain, but can't be called a hero either.
He just really finds himself in a situation where he makes the right chocies based on survival. And of course the situation itself which is at hand. We also get some veteran acting talent thrown in here as well. In Lee Tergesen who plays Lucello, and Christopher McDonald who plays Elena's father, Mr. Peters. And Navi Rawat who plays Arkin's girlfriend Lisa. We then get some second-tier actors who are up and comers as well including Shannon Kane, Erin Way, and Johanna Brady. So it's a pretty well-rounded cast.

You also have to like the way this film gets right to the good stuff early on. The rave-massacre scene is pretty awesome and twisted stuff! And ten minutes after that scene, we're already back on The Collector as Arkin and Lucello's team are led by Arkin to where the titular villain is "staying", these days. An old hotel that's been "booby-trapped" about as much as a singular location can be "booby-trapped." As a sequel, "The Collection" knows the rules, and serves them well. It's supposed to be more gory, more intense, and more graphic than its predecessor. It is ALL of those things indeed.

But also the story is more fleshed out, and the cast is more solid. Making the performances a joy to watch. Particularly between Stewart and Tergesen. Who at the start are on shaky ground, but eventually after folks start dropping like flies, and the Collector's overall "hell", begins to take its toll...realize that they need each other if they're gonna complete their mission. But the traps this time round are pretty sweet. And genre fans will love the double and triple traps. These traps aren't just set to "go off" on a spring timer when someone steps into one of them, or when an intruder enters a certain part of the building.

A lot of The Collector's traps are set to either "spring" on an unsuspecting victim, or cause a chain reaction of one or two other traps! Which means if trap #1 doesn't get you, the immediate trap #2 or trap #3 will! And in reality, it's the perfect creation since it's all based on the victims "reaction". The normal reaction to almost being impaled or stuck by something is to jump backwards or to your left or right. So the film really ramps up the sadistic yet deadly-intellectual nature of its villain. By setting up a scenario where he sets back-up devices based on the reactions, movements, and responses of his prey to the initial..."trap".

So when you pop back to try and avoid harm or certain death, you in all actuality have just ensured certain death! And this time around, the traps are a lot nastier! We get everything from razor blades, to heavy duty nails, and even "people-bombs"! Which is "exactly" what it sounds like. And that means that the film is a lot bloodier and gorier than its predecessor. Which in itself didn't skimp on the blood and gore at all. The chicks in the movie are well-scouted also. Something you don't see in horror films these days. Elena is not the typical hot girl.

While one female member of Lucello's team is the strong type but not over-bearing or forced. Like she would appear in some other genre flicks. Meanwhile there's another female character in the film who is discovered at The Collector's hotel, but she is not at all what she seems. Though the one failure of this film is not tieing up some loose ends. Particularly with the aforementioned female character from the hotel. And why The Collector chose to keep Arkin, and furthermore Elena alive. Granted, he's called "The Collector". But what is the reasoning behind him keeping certain folks alive.

While effortlessly disposing of others? We never really get the answer to this question. Even in the films intense and high-octane third act. Which instead of relying on anything crazy or out of character, instead gives us some great "fight scenes" and true "hero vs. villain" stuff. All set to the backdrop of a hotel that's literally in flames by the time we reach the climax of the movie. The film uses its ending to set up an intriguing final scene, which slightly explains the title characters motives. Or at least tries to.

Before things conclude with an emphatic period at the end of the sentence. Or perhaps to the untrained eye...a question mark for a potential third film? Either way, "The Collection" is a worthy sequel. Which with major script improvements over the first movie, the usual higher body count, and a stronger cast...should be a must-see for any horror fan.

THE GOOD:The traps are heavy duty stuff, and far deadlier this time around. The addition of some nice veteran talent to an already strong-based cast, helped the movie in many scenes that could've went south. The Collector's hotel as an atmosphere/setting for most of the movie. Was pretty damn cool. The movies finale was nicely done, and the films first death scene, which included multiple deaths...was very cool.

THE BAD:Nothing that stands out like a sore thumb. Although inquiring minds wanna know what exactly was "up" with the blonde Lucello, Arkin, and Elena meet at The Collector's hotel.

OVERALL:Three and a half stars out of four.

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