Sunday, October 2, 2016

Movie Appraisal: The Collective (2008) (2006?)

"Evil is not traced back to the individual...
But to the collective behavior of humanity."
- Niebuhr

The Collective is yet another odd indie horror film. I say "odd" but what I truly mean is that it is a bit obscure. I say that because I cannot find the exact year it was released. I believe it was released in 2008, but a few websites place it as being released in 2006. It could be that it was shown at some film festival before 2008. I'm not sure. If I get any more research done on this movie before I post this review, I'll update my knowledge.

That being said, it's a bit of a crawl of a movie at times. I won't say it's boring, but it moves very slow with a great deal of tension. I have to say that I enjoyed that aspect of the film. I watched with rapt attention through the front half of the movie, as the lead character Tyler (played by Kelly Overton) tries to find her sister, Jessica, through a network of contacts that Jessica had had in the weeks leading up to Tyler coming to find her and that she has subsequently dropped out of her life.

The camera work in the movie is absolutely great. I have to point that out first. The directors (Kelly Overton and Judson Pearce Morgan certainly knows how to use a camera correctly. It has a very artistic feeling without being pretentious, which I appreciate. The acting in the movie is also quite good. I love these indie ventures because sometimes the acting just feels like regular people interacting, which is what I love in these movies.

BUT! And I hate to be the harbinger of bad news, BUT while the front half of the film is tense and extremely good, once the mystery is out, the film takes a dramatic turn into the mediocre lane. It becomes a case of New York City is too small. The antagonists are around every corner even though there are only four of them searching for the two sisters once they meet up and decide to split the group that's holding Jessica.

I don't want to be a jerk here. The first half of the movie with its intrigue, questions, and ultimate mystery is extremely well done. The feeling of not being able to trust anybody and being paranoid constantly are so well put together. Tyler's first meeting with Jessica is also really well portrayed and acted, showing tension that I wasn't expecting.

But once the story is all put out there, it is much less interesting and much less horrific than it starts out being. I figured the whole cult-group had undergone some kind of "groupthink" thing, hence The Collective, but that wasn't true at all. It's just some shitty name for a group of thirty-somethings who meet up at a random man's cathedral and play-worship and take drugs. And that disappointed me. Why set up everything so nicely only to have it be the simplest and most boring explanation? There is no horror there and the tension only just exists at all.

And when I say that, I mean that because the movie makes NYC into this small place, there is more tension than there would be if NYC had been treated as how it actually is. I live very close to NYC. I'm in the city about once a month or so. It's BIG. If you've never been there, it is so much bigger than you expect it to be, what with the subway tunnels, the vertical building littered constantly all over the city, and mostly the amount of people that exist. NYC is extremely populous. If you dive into a large group of people, you are EXTREMELY LIKELY to not be found. And somebody showing up on the same subway you're taking accidentally is almost beyond the realm of reason.

This is something to focus on because it is a flaw. These four people who are going after our protagonists are not omnipotent. They shouldn't be able to find the girls as easily as they continue to in the last ten minutes of the movie or so. It breaks me right out of the movie and frustrates me completely. They had a perfectly good beginning of a plot, and they ruined it by using the most boring and laziest conclusion possible.

Eh. I don't have much else to say. I wouldn't recommend watching beyond the halfway point of the movie. The front half is really good, but the back half will just make you angry.

Oh, but I do have to admit that I think this is the only movie I've ever seen that portrays the Metro North in a positive light. I love that simply because I used to use the Metro North every once in a while when I lived in Connecticut. So, it's great to see that hope resides in some of the shittiest cities in Connecticut, if only for my own personal amusement.

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