- Terence Stamp as Freddie Clegg
- Samantha Eggar as Miranda Grey
A genuinely disturbing and complex psychological thriller directed with claustrophobic menace and assurance by William Wyler, The Collector is a creepy film boasting two excellent performances from the leads.
Freddie Clegg is a lonely and awkward young man who collects butterflies as a hobby. In flashback, we see how he won the pools and bought a large and isolated house in the English countryside. Freddie has become obsessed by Miranda Grey, a beautiful art student who he begins to stalk on a regular basis. Events come to a head when Freddie kidnaps Miranda and imprisons her in the cellar of his house. He has set out a bed, drawing paper and new clothes for the girl, this stemming from his obsession and spying on her. The terrified girl demands to be set free, but Freddie keeps her there in the hopes that she will come to love him in return. Although frightened in the beginning, Miranda begins to respect Freddie as she sees the extent of his loneliness and his insecurities. The two form an agreement that he will let her go in four weeks if she keeps him company for a while. Yet Freddie is capricious and as the two begin to form an unexpected bond, a misunderstanding spells dire consequences for both.
The Collector features a spine-tingling atmosphere as Miranda attempts to escape but realises the silent intelligence and ruthlessness of her captor. Moody lighting in the cellar give off a cold feeling, whilst being juxtaposed with images of sun-dappled flowers and the collections of butterflies kept by Freddie. This choice of lighting also makes up for the often stagey set. William Wyler builds the events slowly, this helps increase a sense of dread and lets us understand the complex character of Freddie and his pursuit of Miranda’s love. Instead of the traditional one-dimensional maniac and screaming victim, Wyler allows the characters to take on many faces and become more interesting as a result. A lilting score laced with an undercurrent of menace gives The Collector a strange yet romantic side as Freddie and Miranda begin to understand one another after her initial hatred of him for kidnapping her. We also see the warped romantic actions of Freddie and how he is a troubled young man who has always felt isolated and wanted someone to love him.
What gives The Collector its memorable and complex impact is the main performances from Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar. Being the main two actors throughout the whole movie, they deliver truly compelling performances. Terence Stamp exudes menace and instability yet gives the role of Freddie a sympathetic side that shows the reasons behind his crazed actions. It’s a testament to the talent of Stamp that we at many times feel revulsion for this disturbed character and then in the next breath feel sorry for him. Samantha Eggar projects a terrified innocence that is haunting to watch and gives Miranda a passionate, forceful side that emerges as she develops feelings for Freddie in these extreme circumstances. Freddie maybe the more complex role out of the two, but Eggar plays her part with a certain intelligence that makes us feel the inner feelings of turmoil in her situation.
Chilling, disturbing and complex, The Collector is a psychological thriller that delves into the heart of obsession and emerges with menace and ambiguity.