There are a few speeds in which a film can move forward, and it's up to the viewer to recognize it (early on) and then decide if they're cool with that. As far as independent horror movies are concerned, a slow-burn tale with a vague plot and lots of chit-chat can earn a quick thumbs-down from from any viewer. The more committed horror-lovers will exhibit a little patience; those who've been burned too many times before may simply give up and move on to a flick with a more expeditious pace.
All of that is my way of saying that the micro-budget mind-bender horror film called The Collapsed may suffer from a small variety of pretty typical indie film maladies -- spotty pacing, a few "green" acting performances, and more than a touch of dialogue redundancy -- but if you're willing to pay attention, focus on the assets, and be a little kind to a homemade movie, you'll be treated to a third act that works pretty damn well, and sort of explains why the screenwriters were so damn vague in the first place. Either way, The Collapsed is what I'd call a pretty strong hour-long horror flick that's been stretched into 80-some minutes, simply because that's how long "features" are expected to be.
The story is simple enough: a family of four (mom, dad and two teenagers) are trying to escape from the city after an unspecified but wide-scale disaster has taken place. Are the Weavers trying to escape from radioactive fallout? An airborne virus? An alien invasion? Filmmakers Justin McConnell and Kevin Hutchinson do have some answers for us, but they're not in any big hurry to explain anything. Until a rock-solid third act that works as both nasty horror and a clever Twilight Zone-ish brain-twister, we're stuck with the Weavers, for better or worse. Suffice to say that not all of the clan makes it to Act III, but before the terror strikes we're asked to withstand a few scenes of a bland and/or repetitive nature. Fans of the film may say that its second act simply extends the suspense and mystery. I'd contend that this 82-minute movie would be better at 70 minutes.
All in all, kudos to a crew working from a very limited budget, but one that still has something that money can't buy: a few clever ideas. Other assets include a strong lead performance by John Fantasia as a well-meaning patriarch who just can't seem to keep his family safe, a strange but weirdly effective musical score by Rob Kleiner, and an editorial approach that may linger on the chit-chat just a bit too much, but also manages to deliver the film's final revelations with a good deal of confidence and creepiness. If McConnell and Hutchinson decide to remake this flick with more cash and something a bit more vibrant in the mid-section, I'll be first in line to see it. Either way, these guys are clearly good enough to move on to bigger flicks with heftier budgets.