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Movie review: ‘The Collection’ can’t sustain tension

Movie review: ‘The Collection’ can’t sustain tension
Emma Fitzpatrick as Elena in “The Collection.”
(Associated Press)

“The Collection” is an effective if ultimately disappointing sequel to the 2009 grunge-horror flick “The Collector,” both films directed by Marcus Dunstan and written by Dunstan and Patrick Melton. (The new film’s poster brags that the duo wrote “Saw” sequels 4-to-7. Make of that what you will.)

Here, a superhuman psychopath wreaks havoc on a city, spiriting away victims for crude experiments. When he abducts a rich man’s daughter (Emma Fitzpatrick), a team of hired guns grab Arkin, the only guy who’s ever escaped from the killer, to help rescue her.

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Josh Stewart reprises his role from the first film, but he’s also familiar from a small, standout role as a henchman in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Once the team gets deeper inside the killer’s hotel headquarters -- named in a nice nod for Italian horror maestro Dario Argento -- “The Collection” begins to suffer from the same core problem that vexed all those “Saw” sequels: The filmmakers are far too invested in the mechanism, their own tricks and traps, by which victims die.

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There are no real heroes or villains, just more potential meat for the grinder -- though the way they dispatch a nightclub full of sexy people is both horrific and hilarious.

It’s too bad. For the first half of the film, the slasher flick/men-on-a-mission mash-up holds together surprisingly well, with Dunstan sustaining tension for solid stretches.

And in a pleasant change of pace for the genre, “The Collection” has a more burnished, higher luster look than your average contemporary horror movie, perhaps because it was shot on film so it doesn’t have the same dingy digital smear as so many recent low-budget genre outings.

In the end, though, Melton and Dunstan have created little more than a hollow shell for an empty box. Deciphering a way to leave Fitzgerald bra-less through most of the movie’s running time – in a MacGyver move, she uses the underwire to unhook a latch – might be their canniest ploy.

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mark.olsen@latimes.com

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‘The Collection’

MPAA rating: R for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and brief nudity

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Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Playing: In general release

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