Dead Collections (2012)
Starring: Caitlyn Fletcher, Roberto Lombardi, Edward X. Young, Linnea Sage, Jerry Ross, Samuel L.M. Cole, and Suzi Lorraine
Director: John Orrichio
Rating: Five of Ten Stars
Sara (Fletcher), left with a broken heart and a mountain of debt following her husband's suicide, moves in with her senile uncle (Cole) to regain her footing. But strange events start occurring in the house, indicating the house or Sara herself might be haunted by a ghost, even as a creepy funeral director (Young) and a homicidal debt collector (Lombardi) begin stalking her. The question becomes which will Sara lose first--her sanity or her life?
"Dead Collections" is an entertaining and chilling film that features a talented cast that is supported by a script that features enough material for two or three films. And that is its downfall.
As mentioned above, there are three perceived threats that close in on the main character as the film unfolds. That's not atypical for a film like this, but generally one or more turns out to be a red herring or ends up working in the main character's favor. The film doesn't exactly go in that direction--which I appreciate, as fresh approaches are needed in the horror genre these days--but the presence of a funeral director with more dark secrets than a shelf full of gothic romance novels, and a psychotic debt collector who won't take anything but payment in full as an answer in the same movie is too much of a good thing.
Roberto Lombardi gives a consistently frightening performance as debt collector Thomas Callan, and I could easily see myself giving this film a rating of Seven if he had been the major villain and the funeral director had been reduced to a minor threat or completely removed.
Edward X. Young is equally menacing in his part, and I could likewise see myself giving a film featuring him as the major villain (perhaps titled "Wake" or "Vigil") a rating of Seven.
Heck, I could even see myself possibly giving a Seven rating to a film where Caitlyn Fletcher, as Sara, is trying to put her life back together while living in a haunted house and dealing with the harassment of either a creepy funeral director or a pushy bill collector, who ultimately turn out to have played a role in her husband's death.
But having all these elements, and two intensely evil characters receiving equal play as they zero in on the same target becomes too much of a good thing and loads this single story with way more than it can bear. It means more characters than is good for a film of this kind, and, perhaps worse, it leads to a muddling of timelines and plots. (The passage of time is a real issue in this film... some events that feel like they occur days apart--and probably should--must happen within the same afternoon from the way the film flows. Similarly, events that seem like they happen at the same time don't, as it's must be one time of day at the house where Sara is while another time of day elsewhere in the world.
For all my griping, there is a lot to like about this film--and that's WHY I'm griping. As mentioned, I like the entire cast. There's lots of nice camerawork and the effects are decent for a movie at this budget level. The film is trim and free of padding, always a welcome thing. The music soundtrack is subtle and well-deployed. The film kept me engaged all the way to the very end, which is the greatest praise I can give a movie considering the seemingly endless backlog of DVDs that are forever awaiting my attention. In fact, the film is strong enough that the "shock ending" didn't bother me half as much as it usually does... but it the end, "Dead Collections" falls victim to being too much of a collection of characters and plot-threads.
It's still better than the majority of horror films being released these days... and far FAR better than the only other movie I can think of that I felt had a similar problem of colliding stories and villians--"Scream and Scream Again". (Which I reposted just before putting this review up, so you can read my take on that film, too, if you like.)