THE VICTIM (2011)
D. MICHAEL BIEHN
ANCHOR BAY ENT.
Actor Michael Biehn apparently had a blast working on Robert Rodiguiz's Grindhouse parody PLANET TERROR. So much that he was inspired to make his own Grindhouse movie with his girlfriend Jennifer Blanc. So together they wrote and produced THE VICTIM with Biehn taking the directorial reigns for the first time. The result is a movie that is endearing in the earnestness that it exudes. But suffers from a lot of the first time director blues.
The story is pure pulp novel fodder. A couple of strippers (Jennifer Blanc and genre workhorse Danielle Harris) go out for an afternoon of naughtiness with a couple of cops (Ryan Honey and Denny Kirkwood) but when Harris dies during some rough sex play, it puts her friend on the run. She runs right to the cabin of Hermit Michael Biehn who doesn't take nicely to being disturbed and a fairly violent bit of cat and mouse ensues.
On the plus side the acting is fine all the way around. The entire cast clearly is in on the sense of play and gives it all they got. When the movie gets down to tacks, it gets really violent with a head crushing that could stand up next to DRIVE or IRREVERSIBLE. The script, by no means great, at least takes a fair amount of time setting up the female characters and their friendship. Through several flashbacks we get to know them, which adds a lot to the base of the movie. The twist in the final reel, though not shocking, is a nice turn of events.
On the down side the movie has some really clunky direction like having characters talk directly into the camera when they are talking to each other. Or some severe padding. We used to tease a friend of mine who made backyard movies that his driving scenes existed just to fill enough time for him to play a song he liked. Well here that is actually true as there is a driving across the mountains scene that goes on for several minutes so we can fill time and hear the entire music cue. There is also an embarrassing opening credit scene that apes SE7EN so much that it becomes really funny. Right down to the NINE INCH NAILS rip off music. Throw in some really eye-straining day for night photography as it all adds up to hurting the final film.
THE VICTIM does do one thing I have never seen before. The ends credits, the film actually shows you the entire crew as their name appears. You see this with actors all the time, but never production staff. The movie goes through person by person and tells you what they did and shows you who they are. It certainly made me hang out through the whole credits.
THE VICTIM is not a ground-breaker, but it is diverting enough for an hour and a half and I hope Michael Biehn makes some more films.
Review © Andrew Copp