Review of The Victim


Movie Review: "The Victim"

-- Rating: Rated R (for strong violent and sexual content, language, and some drug use)
Length: 83 minutes
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Directed by: Michael Biehn
Genre: Thriller

"The Victim" is an American psychological thriller that stars Michael Biehn, who also directed the film and wrote its script. Jennifer Blanc co-stars, and she is also the producer. This movie was filmed in Los Angeles, California and the principal photography was taken in Topanga Canyon, near Malibu, California. This film was never shown in theatres and was released directly to DVD. It was filmed in 12 days on a budget of about $800,000, and the entire production was completed in 25 days.

Annie (Jennifer Blanc) and Mary (Danielle Harris) are on a date with sheriff's deputies Harrison (Ryan Honey) and Coogan (Denny Kirkwood). They walk into the woods, where Mary and Harrison sneak off to have sex. It turns kinky, and Harrison ends up killing Mary. Annie witnesses the murder and escapes from Harrison and Coogan. The audience also learns through flashbacks that a serial killer is on the loose at this point. The punch line of this subplot is not revealed until the final scene in the film.

Annie runs through the woods until she comes across a cabin, which is inhabited by Kyle (Michael Biehn), a handsome recluse who avoids civilization. He seems to be running from his past, although the film never makes this clear. Annie knocks on Kyle's door, throwing his isolated world into chaos. Their worlds collide, and the audience must determine who the real victim of the story is.

"The Victim" is a low-budget thriller that does not take itself too seriously. It is a grindhouse film, which is a sub-genre of thrillers characterized by low production values with plenty of sex and violence. The entire film has only five characters, including one who dies early in the film. This means the roles often must pull double-duty, such as Annie serving as both the damsel in distress and Kyle's love interest. Honey and Kirkwood also play their seedy roles with gusto, with performances that go over the top when necessary.

Biehn provides a solid performance as a loner who is thrust into a confrontation with other people against his wishes. His air of inconvenience and irritable mood provides a humorous take on a serious situation that would normally inspire fear in the protagonist. He exchanges engaging banter with Blanc, who is his wife in real life. Blanc also delivers a good performance that makes the violent scenes believable.

Biehn is also well aware that sex in film is an excellent way of compensating for a low budget. The sex scene between Biehn and Blanc shows the attraction the characters have for each other, without becoming vulgar. This aspect of the film is highly unusual for the grindhouse genre.

The limited budget of the film ensures that it has no computer graphics or stunt doubles. Biehn, Blanc, Kirkwood, and Honey all perform their own stunts in the film's numerous fight scenes. Biehn was nearly choked unconscious during filming when he instructed another actor to use a real choke hold that has been banned in law enforcement for years.

The direct camera work also serves to focus the audience's attention on the action. The budget restrictions limit the film setting to two locations, which Biehn uses effectively to maintain the narrative. Biehn intentionally keeps the script very simple while providing an entertaining film. He also uses creative staging to film night scenes during the day without resorting to complex lighting. Examples of these techniques include the scenes that take place within Kyle's cabin and in a car. The attractive female leads also allow Biehn to dispense with elaborate costumes and makeup.

This film is best viewed by a sophisticated audience who will create infectious laughter at the lighter scenes without being overwhelmed by the darker material. Biehn revealed at the film's screening that his role as a terse loner is closer to his own personality than many other roles he has played in the past. Biehn has played action heroes and villains before, but Kyle is an everyman who must deal with an extraordinary situation in an ordinary manner.

"The Victim" is a B movie that makes no bones about its classification. Biehn uses the raw material available to him to create a solid exploitation film. Grindhouse fans should be entertained by this film and will feel their time has been well-spent, despite its simple production methods.

Rating 3 out of 5

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