Film Review: The Collector

30/06/2010

Another year, another highly questionable entry in the torture-porn sub-genre. The Collector offers little originality, little fear, and sadly little entertainment.

So that the mother of his child is able to pay off her debt to loan sharks, Arkin breaks into his employer’s home, to steal a valuable jewel. When he gets inside however, he realises he is not alone…

There are multiple plot holes in The Collector, which generates little appreciation for the story. Even pushing these aside, the crux of the narrative appears to be geared solely on getting Arkin inside the house, and keeping him there, in order for him to see and experience gruesome incidents.

With the lack of an interesting story and very limited character development, it is hard to really care about the fate of the protagonist. Coupled with this is the lack of exposition on the killer carrying out such awful crimes. Whilst director Marcus Dunstan may have been aiming for mystery as the desired effect, the result is actually an air of laziness in the development of this film.

Gore and brutality is not necessarily a bad thing in horror movies. Nevertheless, the graphic imagery in a film should be accompanied by a worthwhile storyline, or at least some amusement. Drag Me to Hell is a good example of a film that successfully combines the abject with amusement and some moments of terror. Sadly, The Collector mixes its gore with neither humour nor any real sense of terror.

The acting in the film is passable. The cinematography offers a grainy and muted quality similar to the Saw films and Hostel. Whilst the effects in The Collector appear quite realistic, the film nonetheless offers little to its audience, other than gore and exasperation.

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Film Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

15/03/2010

When a film actually feels long, it’s never a good sign. The problem with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is that it takes far too long to build momentum. It is only in the second third of the film that pace is generated; prior to this there is exposition and little else.

The film centres around the mystery of a missing young girl, disappeared decades before from her wealthy family. What distinguishes The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo most from others in the murder mystery mould is the explicitness in not only the crimes that are discovered, but also in the violence that is depicted. At times, the graphic nature of the violence and sadism on display is difficult to watch. Unlike movies such as Saw, which seems to function on the ‘gore for entertainment’ premise, it is hard to see what is gained from such graphic scenes. Murder mystery for the Hostel generation perhaps.

The selling point of the books and this subsequent film appears to be the central character of Lisbeth. With her shadowy background and non-conformist appearance, Lisbeth is a researcher and hacker who is drawn into the case after completing research on reporter Michael Blomkvist, who is originally tasked with the case.  With her piercings and tattoos, Lisbeth may seem a world away from Miss Marple, yet there is little more to her beyond this outsider persona.

The film is the first instalment of a trilogy, so presumably more will be revealed about Lisbeth and her background. The ending of this film, however, feels protracted; it goes on at least fifteen minutes longer than what appears to be a logical conclusion.  Whilst the next two films may pick up the pace, it is questionable how many viewers will return after this mediocre start.