Thursday, September 17, 2009
The crazy pills come fast and easy in Sorority Row - wouldn't it be a better prank to let the freaked-out "murderer" of Audrina Partridge call the cops than leave him alone with the body after telling him to dismember it? - but the characters' baffling life choices are of a piece with the bitchy performances (I don't know if even Leighton Meester could shrug off a rising body count as easily as the unfortunately named Leah Pipes does here), campy dialogue and silly death sequences. While I wouldn't say the film was inspired, it did deliver the prerequisites of the slasher genre with a modicum of wit and self-awareness. Also, boobs.
Aside from a regrettable moment of T&Quease, none of this can be said for The Collector, which glumly trudges through an even more absurd concept. If your M.O. was to break into houses and tie up the residents before slicing them to death, would you bother setting up elaborate booby traps in the empty rooms of the house? What's the point of nailing razorblade-lined planks of wood to the windows if those inside have little chance of reaching for them? Why tape kitchen knifes to the chandelier if you're going to blow the place up before the police can admire the handiwork? If a desperate thief-by-necessity (played by an exceptionally drab TV named Josh Stewart - watch out for this airsuck) hadn't wandered into The Collector's dastardly game, no one would have been around to play it. Without Saw's dimwitted morality plays to justify the dour tone, the film feels like a grisly, joyless homage to Home Alone (a comparison point I'm embarrassed not to have thought up myself - thanks, Leila).
While The Collector takes little pleasure in its sadism (and why make a horror film if you're not going to?), it at least delivers the prerequisites of the slasher genre with a modicum of imagination and minimal fuss. We aren't repeatedly graced with the sight of the director's wife wandering around with a white horse and shit, as we are in Halloween II (thanks for the opening dream dictionary definition, Rob Zombie, lest we assume Michael Myers just has a thing for ponies). The 44-year-old fanboy's returns have diminished to little more than a stream of facial traumas, the sound of Scout Taylor-Compton whimpering (never mind who she is, it won't come up again), a brief Deadwood reunion, less than thrilling cameos from Margot Kidder and Howard Hesseman, and interminable chatter more Diablo Cody than John Carpenter. If I have to struggle to remember anything Malcolm McDowell said or did in your movie, your last name probably shouldn't be Zombie.