Written by: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Directed by: Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick, Lee Tergesen
At the end of The Collector, Arkin had very nearly gotten away before the Collector's van plowed Arkin's ambulance off the road, and last we saw he was being shoved into a trunk and loaded into the back of said van to be hauled away as bait for the next big setup (the Collector keeps one victim from each of his events to be stuffed into a box and used as a mood-setting jump scare to start the next one, as well as one other victim to take back to his lair for further fun and games, but more on that later).
Then we're introduced to Elena, having a conversation with her boyfriend who makes some excuse about not being able to come with her and her friends to the rave that night. Of course, they run into him at the rave, or rather she almost literally runs into him, but he's too busy making out with another girl to notice until she calls him out and slaps his stupid, cheating face. Really, though, she should be thankful, because her storming off to the bathroom saved her from the fate of everyone else in the place. She finds the crate with Arkin in it and sets him free, and he tells her they need to get the hell out of there immediately. He jumps out a window but doesn't manage to limp very far before being apprehended by the police. She goes back to find her friends, and trips a wire that triggers a lockdown of the building and activates a massive spinning drum like the ones on soybean harvesting platforms – except the teeth on this one are razor sharp steel instead of hard rubber. Cue the thing you've always dreamed of seeing happen to a rave. The whirling blur of blades and blood herds the few people it doesn't Jackson Pollack into a corner, which locks into a cage with a descending roof. Standing on that roof is the Collector, whose eerie, reflective eyes Elena looks into just after she sees her best friend Missy's head crushed to a pulp beneath his feet. She tries to run, but too slow, chicken Marengo.
When Arkin comes to, he is questioned nearly back into unconsciousness by the police, but before long they're ushered out by a man named Lucello. He works as a bodyguard for Elena's loving and incredibly wealthy father, and he has a proposal for Arkin – one that he's not really going to be allowed to turn down. In return for enough money to live comfortably and pay off his now mysteriously affectionate wife's debt (doubtless the huge gem he managed to pocket last time was either lost to the Collector, or recovered by the police once he was taken to the hospital), he will lead Lucello and a team of mercenaries into the Collector's lair to retrieve Elena.
Once inside, the mercs start to realize Arkin wasn't kidding when he told them they would be in over their heads, but his tales of the horrors of the Hotel Argento (hahaha) didn't prepare them for a horde of brainwashed human attack dogs, and that's just in the foyer...
It must be exhausting to live in a place where every room and hallway is wired for horrible, splattery death. Can you imagine the stress of waking up in the middle of the night and having to take a leak, and trying to remember in your hazy half-sleep how to get to the can, drain the lizard, and get back to bed without having your cock chopped off by a spring-loaded windmill made of butcher knives welded to shuriken coated in salt and lemon juice followed by being shot in the face by a blunderbuss loaded with venomous Amazonian centipedes?
Another of the myriad benefits of not encumbering the Collector with a ridiculous and completely implausible back story is that you're not constantly wondering how he afforded all the equipment for his traps, and how he managed to rig them by himself, in seemingly impossible time frames. It still crosses your mind, but since you don't know anything about the killer, it gives you nothing concrete to pick apart. In fact, having him live in a place like the Hotel Argento isn't nearly so unrealistic as you might at first think. After all, Herman Webster Mudgett, a.k.a. Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, one of America's most famous and prolific serial killers, custom built an entire hotel with similar rigging in 1893. If you're a genius to begin with, and you farm out the jobs in tiny enough increments to enough separate contractors, you can create just about anything in secret.
The room where the big final showdown takes place has a bit of Human Centipede vibe about it, with huge tanks filled with preservative (presumably not formaldehyde, as Elena smashes one open to put out a fire and formaldehyde is extremely flammable) containing weird “bugs” made out of fused-together human torsos and limbs. Granted this is made sense of considering the one character trait we do learn about the Collector is that he's an entomologist, and he also likes carving people up, so I guess melding the two hobbies isn't such a leap for a psychopath, but you can't help but wonder if that choice was an intentional grab for some of Human Centipede's rather undeserved cult fame. If so, Melton and Dunstan should have more confidence in their creation than that. Beyond the wacky central premise and Dieter Laser's entertainingly batshit performance, Human Centipede was a huge disappointment. The two Collector movies are far superior.
That superiority, once again, comes from keeping the Collector's identity a secret. Under the mask this time is Randall Archer, whose performance isn't nearly as terrifying as Juan Fernández's in the previous movie. Then again, this is almost as much an action movie as it is horror, where the first one was a straight up slasher flick. There isn't as much time for lurking creepily and philosophically handling a spider while tying someone's hands together with fish hooks when you have a team of mercenaries armed with machine guns marauding around your secret murder lab. The Hotel Argento itself becomes almost as much a character as the Collector himself, although you could argue that that in itself is exploring deeper into the Collector, as being in the Hotel is like wandering around in the maze of his brilliant but unhinged mind.
That said, for all the spinning blades and flying spikes, when it becomes clear that the situation has gotten out of hand, the Collector isn't above grabbing a machine gun of his own. He's not afraid to cut his losses and just blow the opposition away if it means living to trap another day. He has a sense of priorities. I like that in a psycho.