Plenty of gore and a bit more

Sure it's torture porn but with a twist. And that's enough to label "The Collector" different from the other slabs of meat hanging in the horror film locker.

The film enjoys an actual plot. A good-hearted cat burglar is forced to steal from a wealthy family he has come to like. Once in their house, however, he stumbles on an elaborate serial killing in progress -- a masked villain is horribly torturing captured family members. Even more to his chagrin, he finds they are all ensnared in a web of booby traps from the most lethal departments of Home Depot.

So rather than the usual helpless victim screaming through 90 minutes of blood-soaked pursuit, we have a smart, cool customer tiptoeing through the caltrops to save the family without being detected by the killer. It helps that Josh Stewart (of TV's "Dirt") is likable as the thief.

"The Collector" commits plenty of cinematic sins as directed by Marcus Dunstan from a script he co-wrote with Patrick Melton (the "Project Greenlight"-winning scribes of "Saws" IV-VII -- seriously, they're working on a seventh). Among the excesses are assorted cliches, endless close-ups, overripe sound design and a thickly laid-on spider motif.

But critiquing the filmic technique of this blatant horror franchise-bait is akin to quibbling with the shade of lipstick on a slaughtered pig. Either you go for this sort of extreme, senseless gore or you don't. With its plot and lead performance, "The Collector" is, at least, an unusual specimen.



'The Collector'

MPAA rating: R for pervasive sadistic bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity

Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

Playing: In general release

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