Review: The Victim / Cert: 15 /Director: Michael Biehn / Screenplay: Michael Biehn / Starring: Michael Biehn, Jennifer Blanc, Danielle Harris, Ryan Honey / Release Date: September 24th
Michael Biehn, forever remembered for his iconic roles in The Terminator and Aliens has turned his attention to grindhouse cinema for his first foray into writing and directing. The Victim was filmed over a period of 12 days on a budget of just under $1 million, and is a taut and highly watchable psychological thriller characterized by brutal violence and sex.
Good-time girls Mary (Harris) and Annie (Blanc, Michael Biehn’s real-life wife) are spending some… ahem… quality time with a pair of sleazy Sheriff’s Deputies deep in the woodlands. A bit of raunchy naughtiness ends in tragedy and soon Annie, now a witness to a violent crime, is running for her life. Fortunately - or perhaps not - she stumbles across Kyle (Biehn), a moody reclusive outsider who shies away from civilisation and spends much of his time in a cabin in the woods (no, not that one). Initially Kyle wants nothing to do with Annie and tries to turn her away; but she’s desperate and terrified and after a less-than-friendly visit from the two Deputies, he decides to take the law into his own hands to save Annie from her pursuers who’ll clearly stop at nothing to silence her forever.
While it’s true that The Victim revisits familiar territory Biehn’s movie belies its micro-budget and creates a real sense of unease and jeopardy; much of Annie and Mary’s back-story is told in flashback, a device which, if overused or misused, can floor the tightest of narratives. But here we’re never entirely sure if what we’re seeing, as told by Annie, is the truth or some convenient distortion being peddled to encourage Kyle to help. Misdirection is the name of the game right through to the frustratingly-ambiguous ending after eighty or so minutes of edgy violence - there’s a wince-inducing bludgeoning sequence - and sex scenes which are surprisingly graphic for a 15 certificate (in the UK).
The Victim, a passion project for Biehn, is a decent first effort in the writer/director’s chair. Despite its brief running time it could do with a little tightening up - the early sequence of Kyle driving to his cabin seems to go on as long as the journey actually would - but as an homage to a very particular style of filmmaking it’s a quiet, commendable triumph.
Extras: Behind the scenes footage