MOVIE: The Collector (2009)

The term “torture porn” is a movie descriptor that bugs the hell out of me.  It presumes that movies that feature that level or type of violence have no merit other than bringing joy to sickos who enjoy watching human beings get hurt.  Michael Haneke suggested as much in his film Funny Games, which posited we were complicit in the violent actions of his protagonists simply by continuing to watch what they were doing.  And while that concept intrigued me, certainly, it also irritated me (not the least because it seemed a lot like the pot calling the kettle black — I wasn’t the one making that shite up, Haneke, YOU were).

For me, the violence in these kinds of movies can serve a purpose — when it’s done well.  For example, in the film Martyrs, which I listed as one of my “favorites” from last year, it spoke incredible volumes about the resilience of the human spirit.   It made me think, even while it horrified me to the core.  (Granted, this is NOT a movie for everyone. Don’t make me warn you again.)  Even the movie Hostel had some interesting psychological elements to it, in my opinion.  Movies about this type of extreme violence CAN have storytelling, thought-provoking value.  They may not be your thing, but dismissing them as crap out of hand is, in my opinion, small-minded.

THAT SAID, this movie — this one right here — is absolute torture porn.  There’s no point to it other than the glorification of the increasingly creative and twisted ways the filmmakers came up with to hurt people.   It’s more like the last several Saw movies than it is a film attempting to explore the impact of violence on the characters in the film or those of us watching from the bleachers.  There’s no exploration of anything — character, fear, emotion, resilience, madness.  It’s just violence for the sake of violence.  Yawn.

I ended up fast-forwarding through huge chunks of this movie, hoping there might be some small redeeming thing about it in the end.  But no.  Nope.  In terms of American-made horror movies, the ending is, in fact, kind of unique.  But not in a way I’m afraid I can muster much enthusiasm for.  There was simply no dimension to this story at all.  I didn’t care about the characters and  I was not made to think — only to cringe.  Cringing by itself is boring.  Boring is a waste of my time.   Wasting my time makes me cranky.

And so:  pretend the floor you need to cross in order to get to this movie is covered in a sticky, acid-like substance.  And booby-trapped.   (This will make more sense if you’ve already seen the movie, BUT DON’T SEE THE MOVIE, IS WHAT I’M SAYING.) And if you want to watch a movie that features this level of gore for a reason, go rent Martyrs instead.

(Or, better yet, check out the 1965 film The Collector, starring Terence Stamp, directed by William Wyler, and based on the novel by John Fowles.  It has nothing to do with this film at all, but I loved both the book and the movie when I was about 14 years old.  Tot’ly creepy and rad.)

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre: Horror
Cast:  Josh Stewart (who is, I will grant you, totally hot), Michael Reilly Burke, Andrea Roth


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