The Collection (2012): Not the Indie Horror Film to Support

horror effect indie horror

When I read the critics' reviews of The Collection, I thought "what jerks." They called it a hollow and utlra-violent film lacking any purpose. I hate to say it, but for once, the critics were right. What The Collection lacks in quality filmmaking it doesn't even make up for in entertainment. 

Let's get a few things straight: 1) I liked The Collector a lot. To prove it, here's my review from way back in 2009: The Collector Review. 2) I do like gore-fests and don't necessarily believe in taking everything so seriously. I submit Exhibit B as evidence: Horror can be fun! 3) I happily give grungy indie movies a chance, such as the low budget sci-fi flick Altered.

Disclaimers out of the way, why was the movie so bad? The story feels as if it's been strung together by used dental floss: it's weak, it stinks, and the one thing you can count on is random chunks of flesh along the path. Sorry for the disgusting metaphor, but I feel it's necessary. I can think of countless ways that The Collector's tale could have continued and instead of following any storyline that makes sense, the filmmakers decided to sacrifice any semblance of a story in favor of a higher body count. The movie literally opens with a packed club getting torn apart by an impossibly-large meat grinder. Okay, movie.

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Yup, lots of dead bodies. Entertained yet?
Right now, you might be thinking, what's wrong with a movie focused on gore instead of story? Because I'm not 10 years old. Gore for the sake of gore isn't enough. The bloody spectacle at the end of Dead Alive is mostly effective because we've spent an hour caring about the budding love story between Lionel and Paquita. Sure, the movie is full of stupid, nonsenical moments, but it's fun because we care. As an audience member of The Collection, I found myself as uncaring as the leather-clad villain. And that's a problem if you want me to invest $11 and 82 minutes.

If you want to get intellectual about it, Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle described some of the problems with modern horror quite well in his review. He says, "Much better are the horror movies that tap into existential terror - the fear of losing one's soul. This can be the soul in a religious sense, as in "The Exorcist," but it can also be "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," or a movie that makes audiences question their conception of reality, such as "Carnival of Souls." In this light, "The Collection" can be seen as the ultimate (let's hope ultimate) example of secular horror in a secular age. If you see life as entirely mechanistic and the body as a machine, then the best you'll ever come up with is throwing people into a blender...But it will mean nothing, because unless you believe that life has intrinsic value, your horror movie can have no impact." I don't necessarily agree with everything LaSalle says in his review (or his critical stance on films in general), but he makes a very good point about nihilism's impact on the horror film.  

Admittedly, the film does elevate itself slightly as it goes on. I found the first act to be so excruciating, my stomach literally hurt. Once we got past the ridiculous club scene and most of the dialogue (the combination of writing, acting, and editing made any conversations look like a teenager's home movie), the film became more tolerable. What director Mark Dunstan does well is horror action, but everything in between is just plain bad. I imagine Dunstan would make great music videos or maybe even short films, but I pay to see feature films for the whole package, not rare moments of cool visuals. 

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Go back! You're not supporting indie horror by seeing this movie.
There's been a lot of talk around the horror community about supporting indie horror. I think a lot of us took this film's surprising theatrical release as a call to action, but this is the wrong movie to support. The Collection is an example of why many avoid indie horror, because it has no real substance and a stunning lack of craft. Instead of appealing to the fringe or taking risks, it caters to the basest of horror stereotypes. The Collection is not a representative of the independent genre film that fans should rally behind. It is a representative of everything that disappoints me about the American horror scene today.

Rant over.


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  2. I love your review of this film, and the quote by LaSalle is really effective in giving the general problem that's wrong with horror today. Just because a film is indie horror does not make it good. It's just often that the indie horror films are better than the mainstream.

    I am sadden though that the film isn't good, as I found the first one to be a pleasant surprise. Glad your posting reviews again, can't wait for the next one.

  3. $11 to watch a movie, you must be bloody-well joking little darlin`, 11 cents would be about right.