Heres a new Saw: slash makes trash
“The Collector’’ is another helping of egregious slicing and slashing from Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, who wrote the most recent, much lesser installments of the “Saw’’ movies. Having pushed that sadistic franchise into self-parody (all that’s missing now is the installment about the Hollywood movie being made about those movies), Dunstan and Melton aim to start their own horror series. Theirs gives us a masked nut who tortures and kills, as opposed to a terminally ill one who does a version of the same.
These two (Dunstan directed; they co-wrote) work with a seriousness of purpose that makes you want a smarter, less cynical approach to dread. Instead, they copy what’s worked for “Saw’’ Inc. That’s a shame since the setup contains the type of innocence that’s begun so many good horror movies from the 1970s, in which evil punishes small acts of deviance. Here, a thief (Josh Stewart) breaks into a Louisiana family’s stately Colonial home to steal money for his baby mama, who needs to repay impatient loan sharks (he happens to have done some work on the family’s other home).
Inside, he finds he’s not alone. Dismemberments are in progress, and from there the unfortunate “Saw’’-ness of things takes over. The camera chases its way along elaborate booby traps with sharp objects (a spike hidden in a telephone receiver, strategically placed razor blades, tripwires, acid-coated floors). They hit their marks with eardrum-bruising accuracy. So do a few of the bodies. One trap leaves a woman impaled on a movie screen, producing an image that succinctly if literally sums up a genre’s cynicism.
Wesley Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.