‘The Collector’ – Sawed-off thriller no franchise starter

‘The Collector’ – Sawed-off thriller no franchise starter

The “Saw” formula is wearing thin on movie fans – witness the weak box office take for last October’s “Saw VI.”

So it’s curious why the minds behind “The Collector” saw fit – no pun intended – to incorporate that franchise’s garish color palette and blood-curdling traps into an otherwise promising thriller.

Guess the film’s director, Marcus Dunstan, is simply stuck in torture mode. Dunstan helped write the last three “Saw” installments – and is attached to lucky number VII.

“The Collector,” available on DVD and Blu-ray April 9, starts with promise. It soon degenerates into a hackeyed thriller without the resourceful Tobin Bell to save his creative hide.

Josh Stewart of “Criminal Minds” fame plays Arkin, a handyman desperate for some quick cash to save his wife from a loan shark’s bite. He decides to break into the home of one of his clients, a family he knows will be out of town for the evening, to pilfer their jewels.

Except the house isn’t deserted.

A black masked figure is lurking within, and he’s set up a series of traps for anyone who enters – like Arkin.

The setup is simple and effective, and following Arkin as he slinks around the house is genuinely chilling. Credit Stewart for making Arkin uncomfortable in his own skin, a fresh element for the horror genre.

We’re hooked … for a spell.

But the more we see of The Collector, the less we care.

Once the “Saw”-style traps get triggered, the film’s mystery elements starts to ebb. It’s one thing for Jigsaw to stage elaborate morality plays with his death devices, but watching these Rube Goldberg contraptions feels far less organic to the story.

Dunstan, it would appear, is merely cribbing from his tired horror handbook.

The Collector himself, sporting a truly creepy mask, never develops the kind of presence to let him compete with the likes of Freddy, Jason or Michael.

He’s just a torturing machine, nothing more.

Gore hounds will be pleased by the splatter effects, but even they will notice the gaping plot holes and lack of interesting supporting players.

Suffice to say “The Collector” ends with a sequel-enticing twist. But it’s hard to imagine a “Collector II,” let enough IV, V and VI, is in the offing.

(Photo: Josh Stewart gets more than he bargained for when he breaks into the wrong house in the horror film “The Collector.”Vivendi Home Entertainment)

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