The Victim DVD Review

"I like to keep this handy, for close encounters."

This month sees the long awaited UK release of The Victim, the directorial début of legendary sci-fi icon, Michael Biehn. Perhaps best known for his immortal portrayal of Kyle Reese  in The Terminator, or as `very tough hombre’  Corporal Hicks in Aliens, Biehn has forged a treasured place in the hearts of cinema-goers worldwide with his strong yet soulful heroes; now he tests his talents as a director. His first feature, which he also wrote and stars in, will surprise many, as rather than sticking to the sci-fi fables he is known for, Biehn has treated us to a deliriously entertaining slice of grind-house sleaze.

Presenting a twisted variant on a traditional formula, The Victim is a classic damsel-in-distress story presented though a barbed, perverted lens. Jennifer Blanc, Biehn’s wife and the films producer, portrays the archetypal `hot-blonde-lost-in-the-woods’ who seeks shelter in an isolated log cabin, finding a protector in it’s lonely, reclusive occupant, Kyle (played by Biehn.) Although the plot is largely `by-the-numbers’,  the first time director elevates the material to unexpected heights through skilful and confident camera play.

Biehn gleefully plays with the audience from the beginning, warning “based on true events….not!” The confidence to drag the audience any which way provides a refreshing break from the volumes of modern horror films, seemingly content to rip off old masters. Although Biehn has worked with some of the best directors of our time, James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez to name but two,  he brings his own style to every frame of The Victim:  Jarring editing and psychedelic use of pure, naturalistic lighting gives a hyper-realistic, yet terrifying  impression of  predatory isolation.

Although some scenes are poorly paced, notably the various flashbacks, on the whole Biehn keeps a very tight structure with constant peaks and troughs of thrill and thought. In fact, the quiet calms that follow some of the more turbulant sequences render the film far more sensitive than you may expect from the marketing: Like Biehn’s much loved performances, action doesn’t replace intelligence, in this case violence is the catalyst for contemplation.

One ailment that The Victim suffers from is some persistently clunky dialogue, it is apparent that Biehn is much more confident with a camera than a typewriter. However the whole cast, most notably Blanc and Ryan Honey (as the sadistic sheriff who pursues Blanc) overcome the hammy exposition to deliver performances with passion and conviction.  The sometimes flawed writing never threatens to completely derail the film, which on reflection is a demented, hilarious and thoroughly exciting début from a husband/wife team with leagues of  future potential.  The Victim won’t win any Oscars but will delight Biehn’s many fans whilst proving a great addition to the genre.

The Victim is released on DVD and Blu-ray, 24th September 2012.

About The Author

Liam graduated from the University of Kent in 2012 with a first class degree in Film Studies. Whilst studying at Kent he discovered his passion for cinema criticism by questioning the merits of as many examples as possible'; from Hitchcock's The Lodger, to The Hangover Part II. Liam's cinematic range encompass' genres and auteurs far and wide, however, the fusion of technology with outstanding storytelling is where his key passions lie: Therefore, the work of James Cameron, David Fincher, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson forms the bulk of Liam's must see catalogue.

One Response

  1. An Interview with Michael Biehn & Jennifer Blanc | Front Row Reviews

    […] Michael Biehn is one very tough hombre! Over a thirty five year career, the fifty-six year old Alabama boy has saved the humanity countless times by smashing Terminators, slaughtering Aliens and refusing to give Ed Harris’ `god-damn orders!’ This week sees the DVD and Bluray release of Biehn’s directing debut, The Victim; a “deliriously entertaining slice of grind-house sleaze,” that we recently awarded 3.5 stars. ( You can read our full review here.) […]

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