Collar
R0 - America - Unearthed Films / MVD Visual
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (29th November 2014).
The Film

Ever since the aptly-named derelict Massive (Nick Principe) and his shopping cart (emblazoned with an electrical tape pentagram) drifted into the area, the city's homeless, winos, junkies, pushers, pimps, and hookers have known to stay away from that alley behind the pharmacy. Massive is no mere schizophrenic; he has a habit of not only killing anyone who crosses his path particularly women but also eating them. When prostitute Maria (Mihola Terzic) is raped by the cannibalistic killer, she barely escapes with her life when masturbating wino Harold (Gary Starkell) stumbles into the scene (and pays dearly for it). Investigating a report of an assault in the area, rookie cop Dana (Aidan Dee) tries to help Maria, but the prostitute wants revenge against not only Massive but also Steven (Frederic Levasseur) and Derrick (Roger Dunkley II), the pair of sleazy twenty-somethings who filmed the incident while trawling the city for profitable bum fights. Dana and her partner Jerry (Tony Cipriano) decide to check out the alley behind the pharmacy and are overtaken by Massive who kills Jerry and collars Dana. Steven and Derrick decide that they have to rescue Dana, but not before filming her torment in order to sell themselves as the heroes. Meanwhile, Maria has sought out her drug dealer boyfriend Big J (Ronald Patrick Thompson) and his hulking bodyguard Marvin (as himself) and is on her way back to teach Massive and the filmmakers a lesson. Unfortunately, Dana's heavily pregnant girlfriend Rachael (Momona Komagata) has also been lured into the scene by the amateur filmmakers.

After a short but brutal teaser and an synthesizer theme by Protector 101 that sounds like eighties John Carpenter over credits following Massive through the streets of Vancouver (like a more sentient form of Prince of Darkness' schizophrenic street people), Collar sets itself apart early on as something more uncompromising than your average indie gorefest. The onscreen brutality and the backstory are as dark as anything you might find in some of the more obscure DTV efforts of the nineties, but with slicker photography and well-crafted special make-up effects. The opening credits and the promotional image of Massive, Maria, a collared Dana, and his shopping cart of body parts suggests a mobile tour through the film's urban hell of bum fights, perverted winos, rapists, killers, and amoral onlookers, but action is confined mostly to Massive's shack once the various threads have been set up (perfectly within the scope of a low budget horror film but just a tad disappointing). Massive is a simplistic but creepy horror villain, looking and acting a bit like George Eastman's cannibal in Joe D'Amato's Antropophagus, especially when attempting to engage in that film's most notorious act (which may or may not be a homage since a poster for Lucio Fulci's Zombie can be seen in the home of one of Big J's customers [Mackenzie Murdock]). Performances are generally good for what is required, although the one actor given the most dialogue in the third act is not really up to the task. Director Ryan Nicholson who got his start as a special make-up effects artist in Canadian genre film and TV in the nineties is onscreen for a brief time as one of the bum fights while his wife Megan Nicholson contributes to the make-up effects here. His son Taylor plays the young Massive in flashbacks being abused by a priest (the film's cinematographer Wolfgang Meyer).

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Video

Unearthed Films' single-layer, progressive, anamorphic presentation of this Blackmagic Cinema Camera-photographed production adequately conveys the intentionally gritty quality of the film's photography (and the post-production augmentation of the color and brightness). It is hard to tell how much of the flatness of some shots as well as the edge enhancement is part of the encoding and how much was part of the master.

Audio

The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo gets the job done with regards to the dialogue, scoring, and some painful sound effects.

Extras

The sole extras for the film are a stills gallery and the film's trailer (1:52), but the disc also includes trailers for the "found footage" home invasion flick Hate Crime, the spectacularly gory 100 Tears, the anthology Morris County, the "torture porn-y" Visceral, Thantomorphose (which I'm guessing is a zombie film), and the bizarre animated Where the Dead Go to Die. While the number of trailers do not make up for the lack of contextual extras, they are at entertaining enough (even if I have no desire to see a couple of these).

Packaging

Standard keep case with striking promotional artwork (Unearthed Films' distributor MVD Visual has announced a "Limited Nude Edition" with uncensored artwork and a CD soundtrack for January of next year).

Overall

Not for the squeamish, Collar is certainly a worthy pick among the glut of indie horror (particularly from the various companies under Unearthed Film's currently distributor MVD Visual).

The Film: A- Video: B+ Audio: A Extras: C+ Overall: B+

 


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