Massive (Nick Principe) skulks around the streets of Vancouver with his shopping trolley, an appropriately named hulk adorned in scruffy attire and boasting long dreadlocks that give him a look of Rob Zombie. He later shaves off his locks with a shard of broken glass; the resultant look is like a hybrid of Sid Haig and Blag Dahlia.

We follow him through the streets and into an alleyway. He shelters in a graffiti-strewn derelict building; a place secluded enough for him to live there largely unbothered, which is handy when you happen to be a psychopathic transient Satanist.

In the meantime, we meet several other characters who, by the end of a very long night, are all going to come into contact with this devilish brute.

We get rookie cop Dana (Aidan Lee), whose heavily pregnant girlfriend Rachel (Momona Komagata) wishes her well as leaves for work on the evening. Then there's Steven (Fred Levasseur) who, along with his pal, films bumfights that they've arranged on their mobile 'phones. We're also introduced to hooker Maria (Mihola Terzic) and the hustler, Big J (Ronald Patrick Thompson), who looks after her.

The shit hits the fan when Maria is abused by a punter and escapes by fleeing down the alleyway known to house Massive. No-one will pursue her down there, she knows, because everyone locally fears him. Alas, she didn't stop to think that he may just attack her.

Indeed he does. His subsequent rape of her is captured in mobile 'phone by Steven and friend, who decide Massive is so entertaining that clips of him maiming and killing are more likely to get them noticed online than any old tired bumfighting shtick. So they pledge to follow his exploits from thereon in.

Meanwhile, Maria manages to escape from Massive's grotty lair. having spied Steven filming her ordeal in the process. She bumps into concerned Dana shortly afterwards, before finding her way to Big J - who vows to kill both Massive and the smirking Steven. Dana, in the meantime, takes it upon herself to also make her way to the scene of the rape for closer investigations.

As this disparate bunch collide at various points of the ensuing night, we get to learn why the film is called COLLAR: both in terms of the collar and leash Massive straps to his victims before doling out his sadistic "punishments", and the dog-collar worn by the priest who abused him in the flashbacks to his troubled youth...

COLLAR starts off well with slick photography, urgent handheld camerawork and a welcome synth score that ably evokes the 80s. Principe makes for an imposing onscreen figure, especially for those who are familiar with the monstrous Chromeskull he portrays in the LAID TO REST films.

Following that stylish introduction, the film does falter somewhat as it flits confusingly between unrelated characters. It's only about 20 minutes later that it starts to form some sense of cohesion. Still, from then onwards events improve a lot and the violence hits the screen with stunning regularity.

The tone is an odd one, admittedly. Writer-director Ryan Nicholson creates a world where crass, expletive-filled humour and sadism run hand-in-hand, and almost every character (bar the lesbian couple) is despicable. A dialogue-free Massive offers little explanation for his Occult-inspired rapes; the bumfight enthusiasts are shit personified; the hustler and the hooker are just looking for a fight; when Maria asks an infatuated punter for assistance, he agrees to help only after she's succumbed to his request for anal sex ... Nicholson paints a dark picture of humanity.

Still, if you know his name - he's the guy behind GUTTERBALLS, LIVE FEED, HANGER etc - then you should already know what to expect. You get all the trademark gore, full-frontal female nudity, copious F-bombs, neon lighting and sexual violence that you've grown to expect from the man...

It all somehow feels smaller scale than the other films I've mentioned. There's a smaller cast and fewer locations used, of course, and the fact that the action all happens over the course of one night probably helps dictate this. It doesn't harm the film any; I just thought it was worth mentioning.

FX work isn't bad (though not on a par with GUTTERBALLS); performances are solid; tension is elicited towards the end when a particularly vulnerable character is brought into threat...

This DVD from MVD Visual/Unearthed Films purports to be a region 1 disc on its back cover. In actual fact, it's region free.

The picture quality is very good, offering clean, sharp imagery and a pleasing lack of digital noise. Dark scenes remain clear while detail is always strongly conveyed. Presented in its original 1.85:1 ratio, the transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

English 2.0 audio plays without issue throughout, proffering a clear and evenly balanced soundtrack from beginning to end.

An animated main menu page opens the disc. From there, an animated scene selection menu tenders access to the film via 12 chapters.

Other than a trailer for COLLAR, we get bonus previews for a handful of other Unearthed titles: VISCERAL, THANATAMORPHOSE, WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE, MORRIS COUNTY, HATE CRIME and 100 TEARS.

We're also treated to a 6-minute stills gallery giving the viewer a peek behind the scenes of the film's making. It looks to have been a fairly jovial shoot from the stills contained herein.

Fans of Ryan Nicholson's work will know what to expect and he doesn't let you down with COLLAR. It's stylish, slick, gory and sadistic in equal measures. The film looks very good on this DVD from MVD Visual.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Unearthed Films
Region All NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review