Review: The Victim (2011)

A loner living deep in the woods is dragged into an attempt by two corrupt cops to kill a murder witness in The Victim

A loner living deep in the woods is dragged into an attempt by two corrupt cops to kill a murder witness.

The Grindhouse genre intrigues us. We never expect much from it and know it’s not going to be excellent quality, but then there is something about how amateur it is that adds to its appeal.

The Victim doesn’t mess around, we open with a murder and then a big boobed, short skirted young woman, running through the woods clearly hysterical and trying to get away from someone. She finds a house and knocks on the door, Kyle (Michael Biehn) opens it and we know right away he’s picked the wrong night to stay at home.

Recently we spoke to Michael Biehn and Jennifer Blanc-Biehnand (read our interview here) and they both admit The Victim was never going to be a blockbuster, it was low budget and from start to finish the whole project took just three months. In many ways pressure like that is what differentiates a Grindhouse movie from the rest, but even when the classic Grindhouse elements of shooting style and sex, drugs and violence were spot on, they couldn’t distract us from the awful bits that make up most of the movie. So much so, our mind started to wander and we realised Biehn plays another character named Kyle. We never find out his surname, but part of us hoped it was ‘Reese’ and any moment now we’d find out the blonde, Annie, was a cyborg sent back from the future… wait, we digress.

To be fair, the story isn’t bad, two strippers get mixed up with some crooked cops (Ryan Honey and Denny Kirkwood), one stripper (Danielle Harris) ends up dead and the other, Annie (Jennifer Blanc-Biehn), has to survive with only a loner in the woods (Biehn) as protection. A good premise, but it’s a short story at best and stringing it out to 1hr 23m, very short by movie standards, is still far too long. We’re left with long pauses in dialogue, long driving montages and flashbacks that do little to build any background or love for the apparent victims. There’s a suggestion of a darker story underneath that if dealt with better could have made the ending brilliant, but rather than leave us shouting “WOW” we’re left whispering “meh”.

The Victim was previewed at the sort of horror movie festivals where the audience would be perfectly pitched to like this sort of movie and a lot of the fans seem to have done so, our thoughts though are that they are just showing loyalty to Biehn. We love him too, but despite trying to make a Grindhouse tribute, inspired by the great Robert Rodriguez, all he manages to do is put together a movie that seems nothing more than a fun project with family and friends.

This review might sound harsh, but Biehn has been clever in ensuring everyone knows that he wasn’t expecting much from this movie. He himself seems genuinely surprised that it’s picked up the cult following it has. We agree with him, it’s not a great movie and so the review is based on that alone, what we do hope though is that he keeps directing. The Victim is a good start and could well lay the foundations for him to go from cult actor to cult director and a master of the Grindhouse genre.

Best scene: Crooked cop gets interrogated.
Best line: Kyle yells: “What are you yelling at me for?”

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