From the writing-directing team Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (Saw IV, V, VI, and 3D) comes The Collection, a suspense horror film with nonstop thrills at every turn. Directed by Dunstan, the film centers on a traumatized man forced to help rescue a beautiful woman who has become the latest obsession of a crazed killer who “collects” humans in a booby trapped house of horrors.
Latino Review had an exclusive opportunity to sit and talk to the writing-directing team, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton about their latest film and sequel to The Collector, The Collection.
Latino Review: Will there be a third film?
Marcus Dunstan: If this one will be accepted and be a success then yeah.
Patrick Melton: Oh your Latino Review, I love Latino Review dude you guys are the best. You guys break all the… You guys get the scoops and you break stuff. It’s also the commentary, without being the asshole I think you guys have a nice balance between viewing art and voicing your opinions without coming across as internet troll. Also saying things that people are thinking as well.
Latino Review: The roots of this film and of The Collector came from a 1960′s film?
Marcus Dunstan: It was Wait Till Dark. There is a 60′s film called The Collector starring Terrance Stamp but that is its own entity. We do have that paperback on the wall in Elena’s room. Our film is a separate Entity from it, the character Arkin is inspired by Alan Arkin from Wait Till Dark and the character of Elena is inspired by Aubrey Hepburn from the same film. The difference being that Aubrey Hepburn was vision impaired and our Elena is hearing impaired. Both have the same pixie haircut, both are facing down a ruthless criminal but in this case and in this world what if she had to partner with the thief and try to take down this villainous bully.
Latino Review: What horror films still keep inspiring you guys and which ones keep scaring you guys?
Marcus Dunstan: There’s two, for this film in particular it’s Susperia and Inferno the two Dario Argento films because they taught me at a young age that horror could be beautiful, that it wasn’t dialogue driven, that the camera can be a character and that the score could be haunting while blending in elements of innocence. Traditionally bombastic horror score is fine for the jump scare and shock but Susperia used “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” and replaced it with a throaty born of cigarettes and bourbon voice, then you see these vibrant sets and the camera pushing in and the color matrix system. Where red means dead, blue means danger, Gold means item of safety and it’s transportive and it’s perfect. I could still watch that through my finger tips, I don’t dare want to look away because it’s so pretty.
Patrick Melton: Consciously trying to make something that looks aesthetically a little bit different then what is out right now. What’s popular now? Found footage that’s shot on his iphone that looks like shit and sounds like shit with actors I’ve never seen or heard of can also be scary. I saw Paranormal Activity long before it came out and I thought that was scary. The goal with this film was to make something that looks and feels a little bit different. This has a little bit more of a classic look with the color palate and that just goes back to what we grew up on, Dario Argento. For me it was more of the Carpenter type movies and blending the two to make something that actually feels modern and relevant and current.
Latino Review: Marcus at the premiere last night you said you where glad that it was actually shot on film, was there another direction the studio had in play?
Marcus Dunstan: Oh yes, every step of the way was a massive fight. It was four and a half months to shoot not only on 35mm film but anamorphic. Those lenses are tougher to shoot on, the focus is a little bit trickier but we had Sam McCurdy, a beautiful DP. He also offered to take those lenses as a cary on bag from the UK to our set. Then all of a sudden all arguments stopped as soon as all the dailies came in. This movie was now a film, it was bigger, it earned a place among movies by having that feel and that look. That’s crucial because when we were growing up the movies had depth to them.
Patrick Melton: If you have seen Die Hard, lately it’s one of those films that will play randomly but it was on and you forget how pretty that movie was. It’s the lens flares, it was a gorgeous looking movie. Marcus is old fashion, and Steven Spielberg has also said he will never shoot on digital and good for him because Marcus is the same way. You can see and feel the difference. Digital is good in certain things but they just don’t look the same. One of them is practical effects, we had mostly practical effects and often makeup doesn’t look good with digital because it’ so crisp that you can see how the blood was applied. While film has a grittiness that looks better.
Latino Review: You guys can be called the masters of modern day horror. What’s the key to keeping the audience in suspense?
Marcus Dunstan: Self critique and challenge. We have to catch ourselves before we hit any BS meters, we have to ask ourselves is this worthy? I want to see a good horror movie as much as we absolute need to make a good horror movie in order to tell another tail. So are we worthy enough to talk a date into the theater, can me earn that? I think the only way we can earn that is by pushing and pushing and punching above your weight and fighting, fighting, fighting to always break that next wall.
Patrick Melton: It’s also having respect for the genre. Often in this town someone will say horror films are easy to make, lets make a horror film and that’s always the wrong way to begin. We have been in similar situations before where we give them a horror film then they’re shocked and always want to water it down. Now we’re in a position where we don’t have to do stuff like that anymore. When we were approached to do the sequel on this one we thought OK but we have to do it right.
Marcus Dunstan: The nice thing is, with the sequel usually the failing is that it’s a sequel and a middle film. What was nice for us to do was to craft this film as it was a first film, then it has it’s beginning, it’s middle, and it’s end. Every character has it’s full arc and that helped and it was a completely different movie from then from the first. The first one was tiny, menacing, modestly set cool film on a farm house. This one, we’re entering the mind of a bizarre guy and it can live in the world of the Argento’s because it’s on a bigger scale and I like that it’s a complete experience ending on a note of bloody satisfaction. So should we go back for a third time, the same rules apply, it is it’s own movie the other two don’t exist.
Latino Review: When it comes to your kill/trap methods, do you ever find yourselves hitting a wall?
Marcus Dunstan: No! The first question is about the character, what are they asking for? The second question is how are they going to get it? Are they going to get it? Then it’s kind of easy to give it to them.
Patrick Melton: We definitely did more with the Saw films really trying to create a theme. Those movies were what they were but we did try to have a theme then generally by the end the theme just falls apart. Saw VI was suppose to take place in an abandon zoo and I don’t know if you can really tell that but for these films we have the motif of The Collector being an entomologist and intrigued by bugs and he sets these booby traps all over the place. We did try to have a different look as the floors changed and we just had ideas in our heads on what traps to use and what works each moment.
Latino Review: Who has the darker mind set?
Marcus Dunstan: I think we’re equally the same.
Patrick Melton: We have both seen so many horror movies that often it will be a reference to something from another movie. The one that came out of Marcus childhood is the harvester. We have this scene but the question was how can we kill off all these people quickly. Marcus grew up in rural Illinois and we both went to school in Iowa and he said remember the harvesters, what if that came down from the roof and just knocked everyone down and everyone was like yea that sounds good. It’s also thinking analytically about certain situations.
Latino Review: How do you guys find the balance between horror and action in a film?
Marcus Dunstan: From a production stand point the film can ask for the blend but the production has to live up to that and that’s where it gets tough. We have figured out how to do the six hour action scene and it’s very difficult. Action and horror, if they are done in a certain way have a wonderful alchemy of suspense built up. Weapons, time slows down, a sharp edge villain, spatial reference to where the heroes are at, point of vulnerability and so for horror I would just extend that a little longer until the suspense beat so the impact happens very quick. What we wanted to do is take characters from the action movie and put them against a horror movie victim and see who is going to win. This makes the horror movie villain even scarier if the action movie folks loose their confidence.
“The Collection” is in theaters November 30th