Sequels can really be iffy to me. They rarely end up as good as or better than the first one, and also usually do one of two things: 1.) do exactly the same as the first and end up being pretty much a carbon copy of the original or 2.) go for a completely different approach and add a new spin to the story/characters/mythos of the first. Whenever movies do the same as the first, it’s pointless and usually leaves the viewer wondering why the hell the movie was made. When sequels do the second approach and come at us with a completely new perspective, it adds a lot to the originals in my opinion, and luckily Marcus Dunstan’s THE COLLECTION does just that. It’s pretty much as different from THE COLLECTOR as possible, and though that might seem like a bad thing to fans of the first film, trust me, IT’S NOT.
The first film ended with Arkin (Josh Stewart), the anti-hero from the film, assuming he had gotten away and was being rescued by the paramedics, right before The Collector flipped the ambulance and forced Arkin into one of his suitcases. It was a great way to end the film and left the viewer saying “damn…”. Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton’s sequel, THE COLLECTION, begins with Elena, a young woman who lives with her handicapped father (his handicap is explained in the beginning with a car crash that left him in a walker and Elena with a hearing aid.). Her sleazy boyfriend stands her up and Elena’s friend drags her to a club party in a sketchy looking building. After seeing her boyfriend dancing with another girl there, Elena leaves the dance floor and walks into a room where she finds a suitcase with you guessed it: Arkin inside. We quickly find out that The Collector has booby-trapped the whole building and pretty much slaughters everyone inside, aside from Elena, who is “collected” as Arkin is able to escape.
What follows is pretty much akin to the difference between the horror tone of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN and the straight up action feeling of James Cameron’s sequel to that movie, ALIENS. Elena’s father sends his right hand man, Lucello (played by the great Lee Tergesen of WAYNE’S WORLD, and the GREAT HBO series OZ) to assemble a team of Mercenaries to find Elena and bring her home. Arkin, being the only person who has seen The Collector and lived to tell the tale, is forced by Lucello to lead them to his hideout. How Arkin knows where the warehouse hideout is, is pretty awesome, but I won’t give that away, but I will say: it’s really cool. When the team gets to the warehouse, instead of going for the straight up horror approach of the first film, what happens is pretty much an action retelling of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, this time with the mercs getting picked off one by one until there are just a few left, and how the Collector does that is through, like the first film, a series of traps that are way more inventive in this one in my opinion.
One thing that I loved about the first film is the Arkin character. A lot of people wrote THE COLLECTOR off as yet another SAW clone (maybe in part to the fact that director Marcus Dunstan and co-writer Patrick Melton had written SAW IV, V, VI and VII), but what set that movie apart is how it was more about Arkin and how he went from being a straight up thief and crook to someone who tries to save the family being killed by The Collector. Though it was filled with traps and inventive kills, THE COLLECTOR had some really good character development and THE COLLECTION only adds to that. It’s great to see Arkin return, and to see his journey this time around as someone who has been hurt and tortured by The Collector and though he’s forced to be a part of the rescue team, Arkin definitely wants to exact revenge on the masked Collector. Arkin wants to find Elena and wants to escape even more, even if it means (and by far the funniest moment of the film) shooting a homesless guy from a window to get the police to the warehouse and yelling “sorry dude!”. Arkin isn’t a hero but he does have a heart. I dig characters like that, they’re easier to like, because they’re similar to how people really are. If faced with saving yourself of saving someone else, sadly most people would choose themselves, and Arkin is a great middle ground to that. He wants to get out alive, but really goes out of his way to do his best to save Elena and lead the mercs out.
Aside from the change in tone from horror to action, another difference is the Collector himself. This time around, the masked villain is played by stuntman Randall Archer, and the difference really works for the advantage of the action. He’s bigger this time around, and is able to hold his own with the one on one fights, especially the last couple scenes. While in the first film The Collector was pretty much the one setting forth the action, this time around it’s more of him reacting to the mercs invading his home, and it’s a more aggressive Collector, and Archer does a great job putting that forward.
If you are expecting the same exact movie as the first film, you might be disappointed, but the changes in THE COLLECTION work so well, that it gives a completely fresh approach and really succeeds at being a really original sequel.