Annie’s (Jennifer Blanc) life is in jeopardy after she’s witnessed the horrific rape and murder of her closest friend. Fleeing from two attackers (Ryan Honey, Denny Kirkwood) she stumbles across kyle (Michael Biehn), a recluse living in the middle of the woods. Kyle finds the stillness of the woods comforting. The ruggedly handsome loner stays far from civilization – that is – until a single knock on his door throws his solitary life into chaos. Two worlds collide in this psychological thriller that will make you question your trust in mankind.
The Victim is given the name “classic grindhouse” on more than one occasion, but it is far from accurate. The Victim is both too tame and too self-indulgent to be considered a grindhouse movie. Although The Victim has some moments to be certain, it usually comes up short in direction and gore to truly be considered in the same breath as some of the grindhouse greats. Director Michael Biehn has some pretty decent ideas it seems in the movie, but he fails to pull the trigger.
In short, the movie is far too laid back and tame to be so poorly acted. If a movie is going to have this low budget feel, it simply has to provide us with some seriously funny, gory and entertaining dialogue. The Victim does not do this very often and when it does, it does not seem to be for the reasons they intended.
Biehn plays an ex-criminal named Kyle that is holed up in a remote cabin trying to escape life and forget the bad things of his past. Eventually he is visited by a woman (stripper) named Annie (real life wife Jennifer Blanc) and begging for him to save her. It appears her friend (stripper) Mary (Danielle Harris) was strangled while having rough sex with the Sheriff. (Also a stripper…not really) Ryan Honey plays the sheriff and Deputy Cooger is played by Denny Kirkwood. Biehn allows Annie to hide and it is not long before Sheriff and Deputy come a calling.
At this point, the story goes a bit loco. On the bright side, the scenes are shot in a pretty spooky area. Unfortunately the rest of the movie does not keep up with those shots as it is shoddy at best. The camera work and camera quality just is not there, and the movie is not done well enough to take on a Blair Witch type of camera quality.
The cops chase Annie and Kyle while they run around and try to find Mary’s body and figure out what is really going on. There are some attempts at double crosses and things of that nature, but the silliness of the plot and acting tend to take your attention away. Despite the inclusion of scream queen Harris, the movie simply feels like it was done over a weekend with your Dad’s camcorder or something.
This is Biehn’s first solo film directing and it feels pretty rough. What is interesting is that the movie would have been much better as a horror short. That would have allowed them to eliminate all the unnecessary drivel that makes the film feel like it is an hour too long. As a horror short, the movie could probably have been pretty solid.
Instead, we are left with stilted dialogue that feels like Biehn is afraid to pull the trigger in real grindhouse style. There are some sexual moments in the film but they are rather silly as well. In fact, the scene where he and Annie suddenly make love is so out of left field, it actually feels like an opportunity to show off his ability to age well. Even Annie’s dialogue goes in that direction.
The Victim is not the best movie out there by any means and it is not the worst. When you take a plot and try to stretch it, it becomes very difficult to keep the viewer interested. Nobody wants to hear unnecessary grindhouse conversation unless it is delivered by an incredibly gorgeous naked woman, or is leading to a brutal killing in grindhouse style. If you are going to wear the label, you have to deliver the goods. The Victim misses the mark by a country mile.