It's no surprise that writer Patrick Melton and co-writer/director Marcus Dunstan's script for The Collector was once considered for a Saw prequel film. The Feast and Saw collaborators created a raw and brutal assault on the senses with their story about a double home invasion and a masked serial killer who sets a web of traps to collect his victims.

Given its roots, it would be easy to chalk this film up to being just another torture porn fiasco, but The Collector manages to be a movie about torture without actually crossing into 'porn' territory. The film did struggle to find its place as it danced back and forth between realism and splatter film excess, but there are several elements that make the film closer to old school exploitation than pure torture porn. I'm not talking about "exploitation" in the way it has become a catch-all phrase used by lots of people who wouldn't know an exploitation movie if it sat on their face. I'm talking about something gritty, violent, low-budget and unforgiving. This is after all the same film, shot on 16 mm even, in which the director burned his own hand in order to capture the most realistic effect for a take.
Dunstan's camera deserves as much credit for the film's effectiveness as his body parts do. Every scene deliberately and slowly builds the tension--never turning away from the ultimate gory outcome. But this is not to say that Dunstan relied solely on gore to shock his audience. The first half of the movie barely has a drop of blood spilled and is equally as intense as the latter half. Chunks of the film have zero dialogue and instead use minimal sound, shadows, cat and mouse action and intense camera angles to create suspense.

Further tension can be felt through the struggle of the film's main character, Arkin (Josh Stewart), who is a solid lead as the morally conflicted criminal trying to save his family and eventually the same people he was trying to violate. The Collector's choice of weapons adds another level of apprehension. He doesn't use a slew of preposterous Saw-like torture devices to hunt and trap his victims. Instead, his tools are fairly primitive by comparison and ultimately more terrifying.

Dunstan sets the precedent for all this sadistic, edge of your seat mayhem during the opening credits sequence, which tears through the screen with the harsh gunshot beats of the Terror EBM (Electronic Body Music) band Combichrist and their appropriately titled track, Shut Up and Bleed. Their inclusion on the soundtrack stems from a long line of Industrial musicians who have been greatly influenced by the world of horror and sci-fi films. Electro-Industrial music in particular, uses samples from the horror genre as the perfect accompaniment to complex layered song structures, distorted vocals and harsh sounds. It's somewhat of an affectionate game of pride among Rivetheads to try to identify the samples in various songs from horror movies ranging from Hellraiser to the more obscure. My horror fanaticism started during my childhood, but I can credit several Industrial bands with introducing me to films I had no idea existed.

I have seen many people compare The Collector's credits sequence to that of Se7en (Trent Reznor's Closer remix), but Andy LaPlegua makes Trent Rezor look like a dullard by comparison. LaPlegua has a reputation for being the frat party boy of the Terror EBM/Aggrotech/Industrial (call it what you like) scene. His lyrics, though often humorous, can be viewed as extremely offensive, misogynistic and violent. Songs like Shut up and Swallow, Enjoy the Abuse and This Sh*t Will F*ck You Up are explicit and unapologetic, but that's what makes them so great. This music isn't made to sit idly by, it's aggressive, sexual and energetic music made to pummel a dance floor. LaPlegua and The Collector go right for the gut but only one of them is taking something away from you (a tooth, a fingernail, an eyelid...) quite literally.

The Collector will be available on DVD April 6, 2010. You can check out the song Shut Up and Bleed after the jump.

Oh hi, what are Ren and Stimpy doing here?

categories Features, Reviews, Horror