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Film / The Collector

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The Collector (2009) is an American horror film. Arkin O'Brien (Josh Stewart) is a ex-con that breaks into a house to steal valuables, only to discover that a second person has already broken in, captured the residents, and has set up a variety of high-concept booby traps. Arkin is forced to try to figure out a way to save those he intended to rob, and also fight to survive.

A sequel, going by the title The Collection, was released on November 30, 2012, and was marketed as the real Black Friday. The third movie in the franchise, The Collected, was announced on May 2, 2019. In May 2021, The Collected was confirmed to be cancelled.

No relation to 1963 thriller novel (and subsequent 1965 film) The Collector, about a psychopath who kidnaps women.


The Collector and The Collection provides the following tropes:

  • Actionized Sequel: The Collection is considerably more action-packed, guns blazing than the first movie.
  • Ambiguously Human: While appearance and behavior-wise, the Collector is very much human, there's something really off about him. His eyes have a weird glow to them, he makes a weird purring sound, and as of The Collection, he has survived being stabbed, beaten up, and burned alive without so much as a stray burn mark on him.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The Collector has a slightly adverse reaction to Abby's death in The Collection. Whether it was due being genuinely fond of her or simple annoyance over having lost his most successful "pet" is left unclear.
  • Antagonist Title: The first movie.
  • Arachnid Appearance and Attire: The Collector seems to have an affinity with spiders. With his mask and bizarre eyes he somewhat resembles one, his traps fulfill the same function as a spider's web, and he keeps a number of them as pets. He even has a minor Pet the Dog moment where he opens the basement window and releases a spider back into the wild.
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  • Ax-Crazy: The Collector, being a psychotic sadist that puts people through Cold-Blooded Torture For the Evulz.
  • Anti-Hero: Arkin is a Type II or III in the first film. He broke into the house so that he could help his wife pay off her loan shark, and after finding out the family was being held prisoner, he tried to help them.
    • Firmly becomes a Good Is Not Nice in The Collection. Likely becomes a Type IV with his capturing of The Collector, after he had gone through 11 entomologists, The Collector's actual job, just to find the right one.
  • Anti-Villain: Lucello is Type IV in The Collection, bordering on Hero Antagonist. He desperately wants to get Elena back and so he cons Arkin into entering The Collector's hotel. But he gradually ends up trusting him and also pulls a Heroic Sacrifice in the end.
  • Badass Normal: Arkin. He doesn't have the resources, martial arts skills, or the Diabolus ex Machina tendencies of the Collector. He's just a tough guy who learned his skills on the street and in prison.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The family's cat walks into a room booby-trapped with some sort of sticky, highly acidic substance which the Collector uses as a living alarm.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The climax of The Collection.
  • Bear Trap: The Collector sets up a spread of them in the family's dining room and knocks the guy Jill was about to have sex with into them, crushing him in several places.
  • Belated Happy Ending: The Collection. The ending of the first movie has Arkin being hauled off by the Collector to certain doom, with him seemingly having failed to pay off the loan sharks for his ex-wife. The sequel reveals that not only did she end up surviving and being Put on a Bus, but Arkin finally delivers a long-deserved beatdown on the Collector and locks him in his own trunk.
  • Berserk Button: The Collector does not take kindly to being emasculated, and will only hurt his victims worse if they keep provoking him.
  • Booby Trap: The Collector's M.O. for those he selected and captured.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Elena sports a pixie cut.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The strangely silent exterminator working for "Master Trap" who briefly interacts with Arkin is implied to be the Collector, and later outright stated to be him.
  • *Click* Hello: At the end of The Collection, Arkin gets the drop on the Collector in this manner.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: As Arkin forces the Collector into the trunk.
  • The Collector: Who else?
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Collector hangs his victims up with fishhooks, then inflicts a variety of horrific tortures on them, such as slashing their stomach and using fire to coerce some cockroaches to crawl into the wound. The Collection reveals that he takes his captives to a derelict hotel, tortures them, and drugs them into zombification.
  • Complexity Addiction: What else can you call so thoroughly booby-trapping a house after you've already captured almost everyone in it?
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Collector. He even began to reach levels close to The Chessmaster by The Collection.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Lucello doesn't last long in a fight against Collector, but he does give Arkin an opportunity to turn the tables on the killer.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Collector is aways dressed in black.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Lucello does this to one of Collector's killer dogs.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Two in The Collection
    • Arkin rebreaks his arm to allow it to slip through the bars in the cage they're trapped in and open the latch.
    • Lucello lets the Collector stab him to death, so Arkin can stab him in the leg while he's distracted.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The titular Collector is a walking, talking one, capable of rigging a whole house with extensive deathtraps within five minutes, rigging even more elaborate death traps in a club, fill an abandoned hotel with hundreds of traps that he never sets off by mistake, is combat capable enough to fight and kill trained mercenaries, more or less walks off being set on fire, and has zero motivation for all his monstrous deeds beyond 'For the Evulz'. He's less a serial killer than a malevolent force of nature, or a wizard.
  • Downer Ending: The first film. See Hope Spot.
  • The Faceless: The Collector again. Though in both movies, they do show his face, albeit either out of focus or blurred.
  • Final Girl: Arkin is a male example in the first film. He and Elena are examples from the second.
  • Fingore: We get a few sliced fingers here and there.
  • Flipping the Bird: In the first film's alternate ending, Arkin flips off the house before escaping.
  • For the Evulz: One the Collector's main reason d'etre.
  • Freudian Excuse: At the very end of the second film, Arkin says to the Collector that his father must've fucked him up pretty bad. It's strongly implied that he was the child who survived the horrible events at the museum mentioned in the news bulletin.
  • Friend to Bugs: The only living things the Collector seems to hold any affection for are bugs. He's so fascinated by them that he twists his victim's bodies into insectoid-like shapes and displays them.
  • From Bad to Worse: More so than the Saw films.
  • Gorn: It is written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the same writers for the Saw franchise and Feast, what do you expect?
  • Guile Hero/Pragmatic Hero: Arkin is extremely smart for a horror film protagonist. Virtually every move he makes is pragmatic and furthers to aid in his goals without coming off like he's just pulling ideas out of nowhere.
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • Arkin by The Collection, and also Lucello.
    • Elena is deaf in one ear and manages to outwit The Collector's traps.
  • Hope Spot: At the very end of the first film, Arkin has managed to escape the house and save the little girl, and stumbles onto police who call an ambulance for him. What's more, he's managed to keep ahold of the stone that'll allow him to pay off his wife's loanshark. But then The Collector rams a van into the ambulance, causing it to roll over on its back. He kills the paramedic, and traps Arkin in his box.
  • Humiliation Conga: Brian in The Collection. He's punched in the face after Elena sees him making out with another girl, is flipped off by her friend, loses a finger while trying to outrun the Collector's trap, and finally, Arkin uses his dying body as a cushion to jump out the window and land safely on a car.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: You didn't really think Hannah was in any danger, did you? In the alternate ending, though, Arkin abandons her to her fate, so she is almost certainly doomed...
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sure, he may be a burglar, but Arkin is only doing the robbery to pay off his ex-wife's Loan Shark problem, as well as to protect her and their daughter. He also displays a lot of altruism and concern for the Collector's victims.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: At the end of The Collection, it looks like the Collector is about to get away with his horrible crimes yet again. That is, until Arkin goes through 11 entomologists to track him down, then throws him in the same box where he had previously sealed his victims.
  • Karmic Death: Arkin locks The Collector in the box then burns him alive at the end of The Collection, similar to what The Collector had done to Arkin at the end of the previous film. It's also suggested that Arkin's about to REALLY go medieval on The Collector's ass for a long time after.
  • Knife Fight: Between Lucello and the Collector.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After Arkin fails to save three members of the family, as well as Larry whose injuries make him too weak to free from the crate, he decides to cut his losses and escape while the Collector is busy downstairs. It's only upon noticing Hannah that his conscious gets the better of him.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In The Collection, Abby, one of the Collector’s victims (his “favorite”, according to her), leads Arkin, Elena, Lucello and Paz into a trap. She is then punched by Paz, sending her right into an Iron Maiden-like device, which immediately kills her.
  • Left the Background Music On: At the end of the second film, a man walks into his house and begins to sort his mail. He hears something, and begins to wander the house armed. The music begins to get louder and more tense...until he reaches out a switches off the radio he had turned on a few minutes earlier.
  • Light-Flicker Teleportation: In the second film, Arkin is exploring a room in the hotel where the lights keep flickering. The Collector enters the room, and slowly sneaks up on him. Arkin turns around just as the Collector lunges at him. Then when the lights flicker again, we see that Arkin managed to slip out of the room before the Collector could get him.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: The Collector is very VEEERY malevolent. He likes to torture and murder people and mutilates the survivors into bug-people.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Arkin is an ex-con with ties to the criminal underworld, but from all we see of him, he's not a bad person and is usually friendly.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: The Collector has turned an abandoned hotel into one.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Happens twice in this safecracking scene. Arkin finds himself getting spooked by background noises. As soon as he hears the key sliding into the lock, the tense movie score abruptly stops, replaced by another song until the creaking floorboards on the stairs interrupts that song, spurring him into covering the safe back up. Rather fittingly for a horror film, the song in the middle is the introduction to Korn's "Dead Bodies Everywhere".
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After all the shit The Collector has caused him, Arkin gives one to him at the end of "The Collection" after Lucello gives his life, so he can give Arkin a chance to attack.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Mr. Peters is willing to do anything to get her back even that means hiring outside help and killing the man who collected his daughter.
    • Arkin himself is one, especially after seeing the "Get Well" card from The Collector. His protectiveness extends to Hannah, who he returns to the house to save.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: In The Collection, The Collector gets his ass handed to him by Arkin in a glorious No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, and he will almost certainly be killed by him.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Arkin fires some gay slurs at the Collector, although it isn't exactly clear whether he's actually homophobic or if he's just trying to anger him in order to protect Hannah.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The Collector gets upset when Arkin calls him a "faggot", implying he might be homophobic.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: The Collector's preferred weapon for when he has to kill someone hands on.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: It's implied that the Collector is mentally unstable, which results in him having a rather juvenile personality. He treats his victims like playthings, and is visibly angry whenever someone kills them, like a child does when their toys are taken away. He also has a rather childish obsession with his "collection." Furthermore, he gets off watching Jill and Chad having sex, and brutally tortures Arkin for calling him a "faggot".
  • Red Right Hand: The Collector has animal-like reflective eyes that give a glowing effect. A close up in the second film makes the pupil appear to be one solid color.
  • Retcon: In the second film, Lisa's loan shark problem has inexplicably vanished.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Just one of the Collector's many weapons.
  • Scary Black Man: Roy, who Arkin is trying to get half of his share for the jewel from. He's physically imposing, and tries to burn him with a lighter.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In the first film's alternate ending, Arkin abandons Hannah to her fate after escaping the house.
  • Serial Killer: The Collector, although it's revealed in The Collection that he doesn't actually kill his captives, but rather, tortures them and drugs them to the point where they're practically zombies. He keeps their remains in water-filled display cases when they die.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first movie featured a house filled with traps. The sequel features not only a massive Death from Above scene set inside a club, but also has lots more traps inside the hotel that The Collector resides within.
  • Slave Mooks: Using a combination of torture and drugs the Collector drives some of his victims permanently insane and then sics them on intruders en masse.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The first movie features a montage of the Collector's victims set to "Awake to You" by Patient 113.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: In The Collection, it’s heavily implied that Abby has this, seeing as how she claims to be the Collector’s “favorite”, then leads Arkin, Elena, Lucello and Paz into a trap, signals the Collector to where they are, and with an insane smile, almost joyfully yells, “YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE!.
  • Suddenly Speaking: The Collector, who has been The Voiceless until then, at the end of the second film.
    Collector: Are you here to kill me?
  • Tempting Fate: The second film opens with a flashback showing Mr. Peters and a young Elena driving home after the death of her mother. He promises her that he'll always be there for her. Not three seconds later, they're hit by another car. They both live, but it happens so quickly that it almost seems darkly comical.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: His face isn't actually fully shown, but from what we do see, the Collector is actually a pretty normal-looking man who lives in a house that doesn't exactly look like a serial killer's lair.
  • Tongue Trauma: Averted in the first movie, when the Collector takes a pair of pliers and wire cutters to Victoria's tongue, but doesn't cut it off. Played straight in the second, where he's seen removing one victim's tongue before stapling a mask to his face.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Arkin in The Collection. Granted, he was pretty badass in the first movie, but he still got tossed around by the Collector a lot, whereas in the second, he beats the everloving shit out of him before throwing him down a chute and lighting him on fire. Then he tracks him down when he found out he survived.
  • The Tooth Hurts: The Collector uses a chisel and hammer to knock out one of Arkin's teeth.
  • To the Pain: Arkin's Badass Boast to the Collector at the end of The Collection.
    Arkin: No, that'd be too nice. First I'm gonna make you feel everything that I felt. And then I'm gonna kill you. So that you can never hurt anyone ...
  • Torture Porn: Much focus is given to the victims' graphic deaths.
  • Torture Technician: The Collector enjoys torturing his victims, and is very very good at it.
  • Trap Master: The Collector, almost to Reality Warper levels.
  • The Voiceless: The Collector, in true slasher fashion. Until the very end of the second film.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • The Collector survives and without any scars after being fully engulfed in fire at the end of The Collection.
    • Arkin at the beginning of the second movie. By the end of The Collector, his hands are shredded, he's had a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown with the Collector, he's been all sliced up, and he gets hit by a car when he finally flags down some cops. In The Collection, after an unknown length of time in the Collector's hands, we find him basically unharmed if completely soaked in blood. No explanation given.
    • Arkin again late in the second movie; despite re-breaking his arm to get out of a cage, Arkin has no issue delivering a no-holds-barred beatdown to the Collector at the end of the film. True, one of the other characters 're-set' the arm, but they might have well have just healed it outright.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Paz gets killed by the Collector right before the final battle.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Arkin escapes from the house and is about to leave when he hears the little girl screaming. He tells himself to keep walking but ultimately returns to save her.
  • Would Hurt a Child: According to Larry, the Collector is perfectly fine with killing children. And the way he tries to go after Hannah just reinforces this.
  • Your Head Asplode: Happens to Basil (guy in the towel) in The Collection.

"Fuck you! Fuck you! FUCK YOU!"

Alternative Title(s): The Collection