Marcus Dunstan And Patrick Melton On Changing Tone And Upping The Body Count For ‘The Collection’

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On November 30 LD Entertainment will open The Collection revealing all of the nasty items within. The film is directed by Marcus Dunstan and written by Dunstan and Patrick Melton (their writing credits include Piranha 3DD, Feast, Saw IV, V, VI, Saw 3D and of course The Collector and Pacific Rim).

I sat down with the pair earlier this week and we discussed just how different the new film is from The Collector (hint, a LOT), which Friday The 13th herione Emma Fitzpatrick’s character is modeled on, how they worked to create the grisly sculptures in the film and their desire to make The Collected – the potential third installment of The Collector – even more of a departure.

In the new sequel, “When Elena’s (Emma Fitzpatrick) friends take her to a secret party at an undisclosed location, she never imagined she would become the latest victim of The Collector, a psychopathic killer. The Collector kidnaps and transports her to an abandoned hotel he’s transformed into his own private maze of torture and death. Upon learning of his daughter’s disappearance, Elena’s wealthy father (Christopher McDonald) hires a group of mercenaries to retrieve her from the vicious grips of The Collector. These mercenaries coerce Arkin (Josh Stewart), the only man to have escaped the wrath of this heinous monster, to lead them through thegruesome labyrinth. Now, Arkin finds himself fighting for his own life in order to save Elena.

MILD SPOILERS for The Collection follow (a film you should definitely see on Friday if you liked The Collector). Head inside for the interview!

So I just re-watched the first film this morning and, while I think they’re both fun movies, there are some definite tonal differences between the two. I don’t want to bring up Aliens again but…

Dunstan: The idea of a sequel, in concept, is successful when it is still able to surprise. We’ve all seen a sequel that has not surprised us and it just feels like an endless middle. It feels like a support system for a roman numeral and a cash grab. They can be dulling experiences.

So when we were given an opportunity to craft a sequel, the best challenge was, “how can this feel like the first time?” Actually I will bring up Aliens because I saw it first. I didn’t know there was a movie called Alien, and I was captivated by it. Alien was the slasher in space and Aliens was the war picture. The Collector was our slasher that really took its time setting up these characters. And we didn’t want to do another pitfall of sequels where you’ve spent two hours setting this guy up, putting him in dire straits, and then you kill him in the opening scene. This is somebody we wanted to give a full arc to. And the cool thing about Patrick’s script is that he existed as a fresh character that had come from the point of view of a victim. And that was nice.

Melton: Keep in mind, with the first movie everything was unknown. You don’t know what’s going on inside that house. You don’t know there’s this killer, that was a big reveal. But going into the second movie, we already know that. We’re not going to put you through the same beats again.

We also had more toys this time. We were able to do a lot of stuff that we weren’t able to do on the first movie. On the first movie we had 2 million dollars and 19 days in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was hard to piece all together. That movie was a reflection of its budget. When we set out to do this movie the people at Mickey Lidell’s company said, “let’s do something bigger. An event.” And those were part of our marching orders.

Arkin comes out of the box an angry guy in this. You know what he’s been through. But you add a fresh perspective with Emma’s character, Elana. Can you talk about her place in the film?

Dunstan: From a filmmaking standpoint, we had a chance to make a statement about female characters in horror movies and run a verse to a bunch of tropes regarding them. Like, “they have to be perpetually sweaty and wearing a tank top and in the third act she better instantly know martial arts and how to use a gun.”

Melton: [joking] But how do we know that?

Dunstan: [joking] Because we saw her martial arts trophies in her room! And at the end she picks up a weapon and says, “collect this!”

Melton: It’s pandering. Cyncial.

Dunstan: Amy Steel was the inspiration. She was the hero [Ginny Field] in Friday The 13th Part 2. She was lovely and forthright and defended herself, but from a scared point of view. The movie Babel was also inspirational, it had that great storyline about the hearing impaired girl who went to the nightclub and it showed how she was processing the world. We wanted someone who could save herself not with an unwieldly or unrealistic skill set, but something that she was born with. Her detriments come back to save her. The world is built by underdogs.

I noticed that The Collector has bulked up a bit in this one.

Dunstan: Yes.

Is that a response to his near-demise in the first film?

Melton: He’s on P90X!

Dunstan: It’s all about making this its own movie. The story of The Collection required a villain who had that skill set physically, because this movie was absolutely dangerous to make. Scene for scene we didn’t want to fake too much or cut away, so we needed someone who was capable of stunts as well as performance. And that man was Randall Archer [Juan Fernandez played him in the first film]. The audience can tell when they’re being tricked, and with Randall I felt that it was just a joy because we didn’t have to blink. And when he has that knife fight with Lee Tergesen at the end, those are just the real actors going at it and you can tell.

The Collector’s artwork – The Collection itself – is strangely beautiful.

Dunstan: Yes! Thank you! That was the goal! And thank you Dario Argento, thank you Suspiria and thank you Inferno for teaching us that horror could be pretty. And double all that down and thank you Gary Tunnicliffe [makeup effects designer] for disappearing into the dark and making it happen. It’s such a testament to Gary’s work that the poster that the MPAA had a little problem with was simply a shot from Gary’s collection.

Melton: There’s no digital anything. It’s just this creation in a tank of water.

Coming up, you’ve also got Waterproof that you’re writing for Legendary.

Dunstan: Waterproof is so cool. It’ll be like The Goonies was imagined by Stephen King.

What stage is that in?

Dunstan: The writing.

Is this something that has a callback to some of the old Amblin films?

Dunstan: If we hit the mark it should feel like the first time you weren’t caught watching something scary. The innocence of that. This is not gonna be a hardcore-R experience, it’s something that can grab us all. If we hit the bullseye it’s about the joy and wonderment of seeing something dark.

You end The Collection on a little bit of a cliffhanger. The door is open for a sequel. If we do see The Collected or –

Melton: That’s the name of it!

Are you gonna shake it up and have him out of the mask?

Dunstan: Yes. If that film comes to pass, yes.

So that’s a totally different type of movie then.

Dunstan: That’s the answer to ‘why would you make another one?’ It has to be a different movie. The first two are their own experience, this [The Collected] is what happens now.

  • Kroork

    I am over this movie for the next 4 months! This movie is NOT playing in Canada, so all the time waiting was pointless cause now I must wait for a DVD which I will just assume will not be release in Canada at first aswell. Just like the first movie. I am pissed.

  • woodchuck

    I’m fuckin glad to be an American then, seeing this badass flick tomorrow!