The Collection plays a *lot* better if you've seen the previous film, The Collector, but it's not a complicated story: a serial killer's striking an unnamed city--businesses, homes, public spaces; he's not picky--and killing everyone inside, except for the lone survivor he invariably takes with him. Arkin, the protagonist from the first film, manages to escape the nightclub deathtrap The Collector's just set, only for TC to get away with Elena. Elena's father hires a team of mercenaries (led by Lee Tergesen!) to bring Elena home, and as Arkin is the only survivor anyone's managed to find--hoo boy, is he--they kidnap him from the hospital and force him to lead him into TC's home base: an abandoned hospital he's turned into his own deranged, jury-rigged paradise.

Couple things:

* This movie clearly has, like, twice the budget of the last one. The Collector has a weird DIY feel to it, like it was made in the 70s and was waaaaaay ahead of its time; this one reads like...a small movie that still has twice the budget of the original, which is what it is. It works better than I'm probably making it sound.

* I legitimately hate that they just drop the "Robert Wisdom was gonna kill Arkin's wife and daughter if he didn't get that big-ass diamond to him by midnight" plot from the first film. I realize this is possibly just a me thing, but--you guys, they don't even mention his kid! I was frankly kind of surprised there wasn't a tiny note on the TV report that his wife and daughter have been missing since the night he disappeared, but nope, there's his wife in the hospital with him. (Like I said, possibly a me thing.)

* I am just enough of a nerd that the hotel's called the Hotel Argento. I'm assuming they're in competition with the newly-renovated Hotel Fulci a few blocks over.

* You guys, Elena is great! Emma Fitzpatrick does a really good job with making Elena clearly fucking terrified: she just saw her friends and her boyfriend murdered in front of her, along with about a hundred other people, and now she's shoved into a box by a madman and left alone in his hotel of horrors. So what does she do, cower alone in the dark and cry?

Fuck that. She uses her bra to open the latches on the trunk and climbs out, because nobody's gonna save her, so she's going to have to do it herself. That's great. (This is after she catches her douchebag boyfriend making out with another girl and punches him square in the face.) She also gets a really fantastic "fuck all this shit" moment at the end, with the hotel on fire and the water tanks of--you know what, I don't want to spoil it, but the whole scene (set to Charlie Clouser's really great score) is lovely in a way I wasn't expecting in, you know, the sequel to The Collector.

* Elena's best friend looks like baby Jennifer Lawrence, which, just. GAH.

* For all that there are literally, like, four times the amount of dead people in this one compared to the first, it's nowhere near as brutal. It is horrifying and gory, granted--hi, club thresher trap! Hi, thing that crushes everyone to paste! Oh, hello, crazy drug-fueled zombie cannon fodder!--but it's more the sense of dread in this one that wears at you. Melton and Dunstan, the writers (and in Dunstan's case, director) have described TC as being a shark, utterly incapable of human emotion, and this is his...shark hole? You spend almost the entire movie wincing because you know something's coming, and when it doesn't, it's somehow worse.

* You guys, Daniel Sharman is in this! For approximately ten seconds, and then his head gets blown off by a bomb, but still!

* There's one moment, near the end, where the soundtrack drops out altogether, and it's jarring in a nice way. It's easy to forget how fucking loud horror movies are.

* I will say, I have never been so happy to see Lee Tergesen than I am at the end of this, severed dog head and all.

* It is now a tie as to which movie this year has the best closing credits, this or BD2. BD2 is basically a love letter to everyone who sat through all five movies--yes I did, and I deserve a goddamn medal, IF ONLY FOR NEW MOON--while these are literally a montage of everyone from the movie, either being royally fucked or, in most cases, horribly murdered. It's great.

* Josh Stewart! Josh Stewart is great in this! Granted, I say that as someone who really likes Josh Stewart, but seriously: Arkin's clearly terrified when he tumbles out of the box, to the point that he doesn't even try to help Emma; he just grabs her dead boyfriend, uses him as a human shield, and jumps out a fucking window. The last thing in the world he wants is to go back in that hotel, but they make him, and--look, if you do that, don't look surprised when he fucking runs, okay? Or tries to, because that place is boobytrapped all to shit. It's no surprise when he visibly gives the hell up near the end, 'til Emma snaps him out of it, and it's no real surprise when--I don't want to spoil it. I will say that they could do some really interesting things with the third movie, if they do one. (They handed in the script two weeks ago, it's called The Collected. God help me, I am really excited by this.)

So yeah, if you saw the first one--or didn't, and feel like taking a chance on a matinee--you could do a lot worse than this one.

Also, don't watch 247 Degrees Fahrenheit unless you like 90 minutes of a "don't drink and sauna" parable.
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